This week’s assignment was to interview a member of the opposite sex for our blogs. At first, I found this assignment a little disconcerting–what could a male possibly have to say about feminism? And how could I make this interesting to my readers? I chose to interview Halil Ablesenov, a Muslim student at AUBG from Turkmenistan. Islam is considered by some to be an atrocious violation of the rights of women, so I thought it would be interesting to have a response from a Muslim man on how he views women’s position in Islam. Halil made some interesting and insightful observations on his views of feminism and Islam (some that I personally disagree with), which you can hear in the interview below. In this blog post, I will respond to his observations from a feminist perspective.
I asked Halil about the Muslim tradition of women wearing the hijab, a protective covering over the entire body excluding the face. He said:
“What are the benefits of [the hijab]? Well, I would say one of the first things is that the hair is attractive. It prevents rape because women are attractive and their hair is attractive and it can cause problems like rape. So, this is one of the benefits… that it can prevent it. So, if two women are coming… one is dressed, let’s say, in a Western style. So, beautiful. And let’s say a woman is coming who is dressed in a Muslim way. She has hijab and she has all this dress and a gang is sitting there… who do you think they’re gonna rape? Are they gonna rape the woman who is covered or the woman who is so beautiful and sexy?”
With full respect towards Halil’s viewpoint, I (respectfully) think this manner of thinking could use some work. Going off of this quote, Islamic culture seems to be based around the idea that men are such pathetic horndogs that the mere sight of a woman’s skin will send them into a sexual frenzy and they will have no option but to rape a woman. Perhaps this culture is truly derogatory to men, for implying that all men are potential rapists. Instead of covering women up from head to toe so that they won’t get raped, how about educating males from an early age on how to NOT rape women? Makes more sense to me. It also stands to follow that if women are covered up so that men won’t rape, that rape would be practically nonexistent in Muslim countries. I asked Halil if this was the case. He responded:
“Less people get raped, and there are very harsh penalties for people who rape. So it’s very harsh according to Sharia laws, so I’m absolutely sure there is less rape in Muslim countries.”
Rape statistics would seem to support Halil’s assertion. However, these statistics are based on cases of reported rapes, not the actual number of rapes that occur in a country. In reality, cases of rape in Islamic countries are likely underrepresented because of a disparity in how rape is viewed in the Muslim world as opposed to in the Western world. In Islamic countries, if a woman is raped she can bring shame to her family for this or even be punished because the of the victim-blaming viewpoint Muslims take towards rape. There have even been cases of women being killed as a punishment for being raped, as in this case of a 13-year old stoning victim. This is perhaps the most atrocious example of the cruelties the Muslim world inflicts on its woman. Oh, you were gang-raped? Let’s add insult to injury and FUCKING STONE YOU TO DEATH FOR IT! I apologize for the obscenity, but the fact that these sorts of horrors continue to happen in the world really gets under my skin. I am open-minded enough to accept Halil’s viewpoints on Islam, but I am not (and no one should be) open-minded enough to accept women being punished for being raped.