By Dr Aslam Abdullah
Some 50 million sex workers known as prostitutes exist in our world today. Eighty percent of them are female and range in age between 13-25. Ninety percent of all prostitutes are dependent on a male pimp. Additionally, an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 men, women, and children are trafficked across international borders each year. Seventy percent of them are female, and 50 percent are children.
According to the UN, 37,000 girls under the age of 18 get married each day. If present trends continue, more than 140 million girls will get married before 18 in the next decade.
India burns a bride every 90 minutes on dowry issues. Furthermore, Indian families have aborted more than 10 million female fetuses since the 1990s.
Approximately 35% of women worldwide have experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime. Yet, less than 10% seek assistance from law enforcement.
Estimates published by WHO indicate that about 1 in 3 (30%) women worldwide are subject to physical and sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
After the Taliban take over, the world and its intellectuals suddenly have become concerned about 14 million women in Afghanistan. But, unfortunately, the world has failed to protect women in general as it has continued to use them in the image almost all religions promote in their religious literature—the secular world is no different.
“Women exist to provide sexual pleasure to men.”
“They are the daughters of Satan.”
“They are dirty and not worthy of visiting places of worship during their menstruation.
“They are good to advertise products showing their semi-naked body or even faces.”
“They are subservient to men.”
“Men are their owners.”
Don’t a great majority of the world’s culture and religions have these beliefs mentioned above?
Only a small group of men and women believe that God is not unjust to condemn half of humanity into an abyss of humiliation and subjugation to prove his sovereignty.
The Taliban’s basic understanding of the role of women in society comes from the interpretation of religious text and jurisprudence written by male scholars who practiced slavery, concubinage in the medieval ages. Slavery and the concubinage were in defiance of the basic Quranic concept of the dignity of human beings, an essential principle in Islam. Moreover, the jurisprudence promoted patriarchy with little regard to women’s services in the preservation of human society.
It was the responsibility of Muslim scholars to question the medieval ideas and practices and define a universal charter to restore the dignity of women and not just women. Their focus was not to secure the equality and freedom of women, but to impose arbitrary restrictions securing the interests of men.
The Taliban are a product of a worldwide culture. It’s a culture that promotes patriarchy and promotes women as an object or commodity. If the world and religious leadership were serious about the status of women, they have worked to eliminate prostitution, dowry deaths, female infanticide, rape, violence, and subjugation. Instead, it does not care about the dignity of women because its power elites are the product of a patriarchal system that only secures male interests.
The world would listen to them only when women assert their independence and challenge their religious texts that restrict their freedoms. It is not feminism. It is the restoration of human dignity as bestowed by the creator.