Muslim women around the world are facing a “growing crisis” as Islamic governments fail to honor commitments to end inequality and violence against them, a senior UN official said.
Yakin Erturk, the UN’s rapporteur on violence against women, said at a weekend conference that women must demand their governments carry out pledges to grant equal rights and ensure their safety.
“There is no time left to lose any more as this is a growing crisis,” she said after a speech which dealt with the issue at an international conference on “Equality and Justice in the Muslim Family.”
“Women must demand that their governments implement agreements on women’s equality, rights and an end to violence against women, which have been signed but have yet to be carried out,” she said.
“In these countries, those who speak on behalf of Islam still justify things like stoning or killing a woman for this or that reason as being part of their religion. I have heard this at the most official of levels,” Erturk said without specifying which countries were to blame.
“Of course violence against women is not limited to Islamic countries, but Islamic countries have become stigmatized as being mysogynist societies, which are inherently anti-women,” she said.
Erturk said that very often, laws protecting women are not enforced or are weakened because of pressure from religious groups.
Her view was endorsed by more than 200 international delegates attending the four-day conference organized by Musawah, a new Malaysia-based global movement demanding equality and justice in Muslim families.
“Women are not being bad Muslims when they demand equality, demand justice, demand their husbands stop beating them,” Musawah project director Zainah Anwar said.
“We want to say you can be a Muslim, you can be a feminist, you can demand human rights and women’s rights, equality and justice and still be a good Muslim. We don’t see any contradictions in those demands,” Anwar said.
Several Malaysian religious groups have opposed the forum, however.
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