Local NGO Hope For Women has released a book on women’s rights in Islam in an effort to counter what it has described as a growth in “conservative Islamic teachings or religious justifications, that use Islam as a tool to intimidate and repress women”.
The book, titled “Women’s Rights Through an Islamic Lens”, has been compiled by Hope For Women with support from renowned local Islamic scholar Dr Ibrahim Zakariyya Moosa.
Minivan News was told during the launch that the publication attempts to challenge a perceived emergence of more religious conservative viewpoints in Maldivian society regarding the role of women and gender equality.
Issues addressed by the book include polygamy, a husband’s right to beat his wife, inheritance and the right to divorce.
Hope For Women’s co-founder, former Gender Minister Aneesa Ahmed, expressed particular concern over the growth of conservative views that she argued were limiting the role of women in society to domestic spheres and portraying them as being inferior to men.
She recalled hearing an Islamic scholar preaching on television that women become a “property” of their husbands following marriage, and said such preaching has to be stopped.
“This kind of conservative views that belittle a person is a major obstacle to building harmonious relationships on which a strong family and society is built on,” Aneesa noted.
“Many of the problems existing in our society roots back to inferior roles women and girls have within their households,” she observed. “I hope these publications will clarify the rights and status of women in Islam and create more awareness within our society.”
The NGO has also translated three publications from the international organisation ‘Sisters of Islam’ – including “Are Muslim men allowed to beat their wives?”, “Are women and men equal before Allah?” and “Musawah Framework for Action”.
Musawah is described as a holistic framework created by a group of 12 Muslim activists and scholars from 11 countries on “promoting concepts of justice and equality in Islam, and the Muslim family in particular,” according to its website.
Hope for Women said it had “become incumbent upon all civil society actors to speak out and stand up against the widespread prejudices that encourage women to be relegated to a marginalised existence and sometimes subjected to extraordinary acts of violence.”
Speaking at the launching ceremony of the project yesterday (July 30), newly appointed Gender Minister Dr Aamaal Ali observed that “outdated ways of thinking are being preached today as the Islamic way, and this has resulted in a backlash against women’s role in society”
“My students tell me they hear a certain sermon when they get into a taxi. They face discrimination at some gatherings from other women and outside forces are influencing their family life. Some girls also tell me their husbands are pressuring them for a second marriage,” explained Dr Amaal, who has served as a teacher and principal at the all-girls Ameeniya School in Male’.
“Sometimes when I think, I wonder if women are seen as disposable, to throw away once they become old. Because women are today often being treated as disposable beings,” she added.
The minister noted that if young women in the country informed themselves about religion with education, as well as providing themselves with empowerment and economic emancipation, it would help reduce many of the problems they faced such as domestic violence.