“For a very long time, girls and women have had to go through a series of untold hardships, yet the society through the use of an oppressive culture and manipulation of divine scriptures blessed and endorsed that. It was sugar-coated to look like suffering for women is divinely planned and the only access to the pleasure of God is to willingly accept humiliation from men and gladly talk-not about them”.
This long oppressive system endured because women have from generation to generation been taught and oriented to accept it as a natural rule and the yardstick used in identifying a good wife material from a bad and rebellious one was formed using this apparatus. If she obeys without questioning and swallows humiliation without complaining, she is the righteous one. The one who questions the rationale of subjecting women to physical and psychological harm is tagged as ‘stubborn’ and ‘useless’ that no one should marry.
In these times, religion is still being twisted to bless and sanction oppression against the weak and vulnerable, hence suffering in silence became the life-story of many women including the one writing this piece. Many fathers gave no attention to the female child, the mothers too believing her being worthless forever chanted that to her. Decisions on her life were always taken on her behalf without recourse to what she wants or do not want. The youngest son in the house could slap the eldest woman in that household, and no one would bat an eyelid. Every male child has been given the license to command, control and behave rudely to the women around him, his mother Inclusive.
And in marriage, she is prepared to only listen and obey at all times. Her opinion on matters is never considered important, and not sought. And it does not matter how long she is married, she is oftentimes treated the same as the young women in the house her daughters Inclusive. The man (husband) screams at her and the children and can even attribute their mistake to be her fault because it is only bad and weak things that come from the mother; she is stupid after all. Some mothers are beaten, humiliated, and thrown out of the house right in front of their children. Yet when the neighbors come to her rescue, they will often ask the wife what wrong she committed instead of telling the husband he is wrong to abuse and humiliate her so.
“And as she sobs, the men will take the husband aside and say to him: ” Please pardon her for whatever mistake she did. All women are devils and you have to just learn to tolerate them otherwise, the temptation to beat them to death is always there”.
After the drama of rebuking the beaten wife and placating the abusive husband, the humiliated wife is advised to beg for pardon and told to go back and try to please him. The embolden and proudful man will beat his chest and boasts “next time it will be worse than this”
The husband is forever right even if he elopes with the neighbor’s daughter and the wife forever at fault even if she cooks her flesh for him to eat every day. He kills her, the society will plead with her family to forgive him, and the next day he gets married to another woman within his neighborhood. She kills him, the whole world will curse her and call for her head even if it was done in defense of self. They always say, Men, the landlords of our world, – it is a man’s world.
Tired of being violated, she asks for a divorce, and the whole world would turn against her. How can she ask for a divorce when her mother lived under worse situation and all her married sisters are never better. She is reminded of her friends who endured violence, of those who lost their sanity and the others who died in the process. And she is given the assurances and the consolation that God will reward them for their patience with paradise. They will preach to the woman, that Jannah is created to admit only women who pleasantly endured marital abuse and humiliation, thereby subtly endorsing marital abuse in exchange for Jannah – lies against Allah. But how can women ever know this?
The check on these excesses was supposed to come from within. Those of us who read Islam had and still have the duty to speak against it and frown. We were supposed to endlessly preach against SGBV on our Manabir(podiums) and organize reorientation for boys and men against such pre-Islamic maltreatment of girls and women. We were supposed to sanction whoever abuses his wife. We were supposed to deny him leadership in our gatherings until he repents and changes his style.
We were not supposed to tell the women to bear the burden that such abuse and humiliations come with a reward. Our Sharia Courts can do better on Family Law by ensuring that justice is done for women seeking divorce or child custody and welfare.
Alas! all there is, is SILENCE. Silence from all quarters while these Ills silently continued until they became normal and looked upon as acceptable even though the Quran and the Prophet admonished against maltreatment of women, strongly calling for respect of their rights and persons, many disregarded that and stuck to the ‘use and dump’ attitude.
Yet, here we are. Today, more women are becoming empowered in every way possible, and are becoming exposed to other cultures and the global struggle for self-emancipation. Today, girls and women are doing self-appraisals and many are not willing to be subdued by the ‘culture of silence’ over pain and sorrow.
“Women now are speaking up. They are saying, no to all the long and protracted violence of Sexual and physical assault against them”.
Unfortunately, instead of the knowledgeable ones among the men to validate the concerns of women, genuinely acknowledge that ‘yes things have really been bad and you have been treated unfairly, and it is time to sit together find a workable solution so that Peace will reign in our world again’ and stand with them in solidarity, NO. They rather took to confrontation and name-calling, some saying, this is ‘kufr’ while others are saying it is sheer frustration especially those who can’t find a husband.
I say, yes, it is frustration. Yes, it is the frustration of decades of mental, emotional, physical, and psychological suffering of girls and women in the hands of those designated to be their custodians and protectors. Yes, women are frustrated by the sheer Irresponsibility of those who Allah charged with the responsibility of maintaining them through the provision of welfare. Yes, women are frustrated with having to now be the ‘submissive wife’ at the same time the provider for the husband and his children. Yes, women are frustrated by the incessant manipulation of the Religion of Allah to justify those rot. Come clean and preach Islam. Yes, call to Allah and not to your tyrant selves.
“Engage women constructively, by speaking truth and advocating for justice and fairness to them, otherwise just keep quiet, for there is anger in the land and the tide is strong and only TRUTH can tame it!”
Khadijah Gambo Hawaha is the Commissioner of the Kaduna State Peace Commission.