Women find Pakistani men attractive

The tip of the eisberg

Women in Pakistan fall victim to tradition and religion: Betsy Udink is sounding the alarm

By Rolf Löchel

Discussed books / references

Wearing the Muslim headscarf as a sign of emancipation, as some Muslims in the West or in Turkey claim to do, is as absurd as if slaves were chained as a sign of their freedom. And it is also a mockery of all those who are forced under the headscarf. Like the women in Iran, Saudi Arabia or other countries where Islam is the state religion. Pakistan is one of them. To live in this - as it likes to call itself - "land of the pure" is downright hell for women and often enough deadly. The fact that this is by no means an exaggerated claim, but actually practiced there as a gynocide, is testified not only by the countless 'honor' killings, the abortions of female fetuses carried out millions of times for misogynist reasons or the mass killing of newborn girls through neglect. A look at the population statistics shows that eight million fewer women than men live in the country.

Of course, it has long been known in this country that women's rights in Pakistan are not going well. But the everyday monstrosities of the murderous manhood madness, fed by tradition and religion, and the associated misogyny are unimaginable in the truest sense of the word. And the increasing shortage of women due to the gynocide leads to men monitoring and suppressing 'their' women more and more. Male adolescents and children are now also suffering from the population development, and more and more of them are being abused, not once but regularly. According to SAHIL, a non-governmental organization in Pakistan that fights against the sexual abuse of children, this particularly affects the students in the Koran schools.

But all of this is only the "tip of the iceberg," says Betsy Udink. At least this is what the Dutch author, who herself lived in Pakistan from 2002 to 2005, has now made visible to German readers. In addition to her own experience, her startling book "Allah and Eve" is not only based on numerous interviews with journalists, scientists and representatives of non-profit organizations, but also on an extensive archive in which they contain numerous newspaper and magazine articles on violations of women's rights and - has collected murders in the country. The daily murders of women are usually no more than small notes in the newspapers. In Pakistan you are being noticed "how we accept the little reports of traffic accidents and do not get upset about them".

The reasons and occasions for murdering a woman are as varied as they are futile. However, they can almost always be traced back to the fact that the woman wanted to determine her life (or even just a small moment of her life) herself in some way. It can be enough for their male relatives - their fathers, brothers, husbands or even their sons - to refuse to obey a little something or for them to forget for a moment that they are submissive enough. As a rule, a woman's murderers are her male relatives. Since every murdered woman should also serve as a warning for the survivors, they are not simply killed, but brutally tortured to death. Their hair and eyebrows are shaved off, their faces beaten to a pulp, their eyes gouged out, their noses and ears cut off, their hands or even their toes chopped off, they get salt and chili powder rubbed into their wounds. They are raped, often by a group of villagers. They are burned alive. A martyrdom that can drag on for a few weeks. And since the women should not only be killed, but completely exterminated, it is forbidden for the female relatives to mourn the murdered woman.

The author rejects the assumption that poverty and lack of education are to blame for the oppression and murder of women, pointing out that the terror against women is equally great in all strata of Pakistan. Even so 'enlightened' university professors easily commit an 'honor' murder. And the number of female fetal abortions is particularly high among the rich and educated in the country. Because they have the money to be able to afford sex determination for the unborn child.

Even more absurd than the poverty thesis is an assumption based on it that Udink received from a Pakistani scientist: In a book, he explained to her, he had proven that the IMF and the World Bank were ultimately responsible for sexism and the murders of women deceive his country.

No, says Udink, "the submission of women is an essential part of Islam". And she adds that "no feminist Islamic theology can change anything".

Under pressure from international human rights organizations and western states from which Pakistan receives development aid, a "mass of workshops and conferences" are held there every year on forced marriages, 'honor killings' and other 'domestic violence'. Udink has attended a number of these events and has come to the conclusion that they are only intended to "trick the world into thinking" that the Pakistani state is trying "with all its might" to prevent crimes of honor and other crimes against women.

But Udink also attended conferences organized by Islamists. She lets the readers take part in a conference that was organized by the International Muslim Women Union in a Pakistani city under the motto "The family: the cornerstone of society". Deputy Secretary General of the organization is Dr. Kausa Ferdoz, who voted against a government bill in the Pakistani Senate to increase the penalty for 'honor' killings. This change, the Muslim women justify their rejection, would "undermine the Sharia". At the conference, it goes without saying that the oppression of women in Islam is not complained about, but rather that the "Western countries" criticize the "rights that Islam has given women".

Udink writes with amusing irony about such twisting arts, which can be found again and again, which occasionally gently touches the border to sarcasm. For example, she also breaks down the praises that Professor Falzur Rahman makes for Islamic inheritance law into their partly mendacious, partly stupid, but always misogynous individual parts. Maulany Wahiduddin Khan, who in his book "Women Between Islam and Western Society", fantasizes that women have worse memories than men, which is why it is "entirely in accordance with the laws of nature" that a woman's testimony is doing, is no better off is only worth half as much as a man's.

The title and subtitle of the book - "Allah and Eve. Islam and Women" - name its central theme, but they by no means cover everything that Udink has packed between the two book covers. In twenty-four chapters that are loosely connected, it informs the reader about much more. For example about the persecution of Christian and Muslim minorities by the Muslim majority. She reports about a village in which 300 men and women with only one kidney live, as well as about the "Inferno of Baluchistan". And she talks about her hair-raising experiences with the health system of a country that is proud of its nuclear weapons, or about the Benedicts family, their chauffeur. Another, not too extensive section is devoted to Hijrasthat of the Gender and queerStudies occasionally be transfigured as the 'third gender'. Another is the Sufis. With them, writes Udink, Islam is "the happiest".

Regardless of the wide range of contents: The actual topic of the book is the oppression of Pakistani women and political Islam. Udink optimistically predicts that this will, however, "not survive in the long run". Because he offered "for the needs of mankind, for the economic and social problems no practically implementable solutions". That is why it will "lose its attractiveness in the medium term". That will probably be the case, but it cannot mean laying your hands on your lap until then. Too many people, women and men, fall victim to him every day. In many countries and especially in Pakistan, the 'Land of the Pure', which is "the deadliest country in the world for women". Udink wrote about this above all. It's a book that shocks you - a necessary book.

Betsy Udink: Allah & Eve. Islam and women.
Translated from Dutch by Anna Berger.
Publishing house C. H. Beck, Munich 2007.
234 pages, EUR 18.90.
ISBN-13: 9783406563225

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