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The men’s right over women

By Judit Neurink 18/1/2016
The news of the sexual abuse in Cologne, Germany during New Year’s Eve reverberated across the West. Over 350 women have filed complaints with the police.

As someone living partly in the Kurdistan Region and partly in the West, I am touched by the way the incident is creating waves that have results for asylum seekers who recently came to Europe: borders are closing and single men are less welcome.

But it also affects those who already are living in Europe; in Germany some swimming pools will no longer accept single men.

Voice from the extreme right claiming that allowing Middle Eastern men in will lead to a rise in sexual violence, have become even louder. Now this can no longer be brushed aside as racist.

I am reminded of incidents we hear of in the region where some of the perpetrators originate: about taxi drivers who abuse women after they step in their cars in their own, and men who grope women in shopping centres and bars.

Violence against women is a problem in Iraq, and in Kurdistan a special department has been set up to battle it. But still women are killed in honour related incidents, or they are forced to set themselves on fire to make it look like a suicide.

Recently, a woman was found dead in an area not far from where I live in the Kurdistan capital of Erbil. The initial reports were that she was murdered. But a couple of days later, the police published a report claiming she had committed suicide – that hardly anyone believed.

In a region where women are mainly valued for their honour, girls are taught how to behave so they won’t attract the (unwanted) attention of men. At the same time, boys are often brought up as princes who can have all they ask for. While girls are taught to protect themselves, boys do not learn to keep their hands off.

And even worse, if boys misbehave, they often get away with it. But girls pay the price, by being criticized or even punished for losing their honour – even if they are not to blame, they do get the blame. What does this tell men? That they are superior and have more rights. And women? That they are second after the men.

While in Western countries women are considered equal to men, in Islamic countries they are not. Their testimony is worth half compared to that of a man, they only get half of the share of the heritage compared to their brothers.

Religion, culture and tradition put men above women. Men have to look after the women, not because as mothers they need protection for themselves and their offspring, but because they are considered to be their property – or at least so it is felt. That’s why many husbands keep their women at home and/or order her to wear a scarf. Because other men may take the liberty to put their eye on them, or even more.

This clash between the sexes now has spilt over to Europe. Boys who were brought up in a world where women are kept away from their eager fingers, find themselves in a sweetshop with all these western women who walk around without a visible owner.

It’s not that sexual abuse does not happen in the West. It happens, and incidents like the one in Cologne have also been reported during pop concerts.

But what is new, is that the hunt is on. And that the perpetrators are men who consider it their right to abuse women, as they are not protected by anyone.

It’s a bit like the religious zealot who took and destroyed a bottle of arak that was in my car, when I sent it in for servicing. He was not wrong for taking my property and imposing his religious rules on me, I was to blame for not protecting it.

Years of development of freedom, of feminism and fighting for equal rights have been lost on these men. The fact that in a free society people abide by all kinds of (unwritten) rules not because they are forced to, but because they choose to in order to be able to live in freedom, is lost on them too.

What should the West do, to guarantee the continuation of this beloved freedom, and yet welcome newcomers?

First of all: do not get scared. Fear is a bad advisor. Second: add lessons about the position of woman and the liberties of the western society to the packet of information given to asylum seekers. And teach them this society that attracted them in the first place, is based on a balancing act that involves trust, respect and stability.

Third: punish the perpetrators. Because before everything else, they need to understand how valuable this way of life is, and that westerners will not allow them to destroy it.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rudaw.


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dutchnational | 18/1/2016
I fully agree with this article. Refugees should respect our values, laws or get out. I have a very simple addition to your third point. Anyone convicted of rape, using force, should be chemically castrated. Both as punishment and as example.
KurdistanYanNeman | 18/1/2016
This barbaric act is purely Islamic, authors are Muslims in 99%. Yet Muslims are very good at denial by saying "no, this is not Islamic" without knowing anything about their own savage religion. Quran clearly justifies the killing: Quran- 4:15 “If any of your women are guilty of lewdness, take the evidence of four (reliable) witness from amongst you against them; if they testify, confine them to houses until death do claim them. Or God ordain for them some (other) way. Quran-24:2 “The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication—flog each of them with hundred stripes: Let no compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by God, if ye believe in God and the last day. Quran-17:32 “ Nor come nigh to adultery: for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road (to other evils). Quran-33:33 “stay quietly in your houses, and make not a dazzling display.”
MB | 18/1/2016
•You forgot to add to your list of legalised abuse of women's rights under Shariah Laws: -A girl who is raped in Islamic country under Shariah Laws, will have to produce four males who have witnessed the act of rape. if she fails to produce the witnesses, she will be stoned to death for adultery!! even if she produces the witnesses, the rapist is spared punishment if he agrees to marry the victim to protect her family's honor. Does this not tell Muslim male rapist that Islam will reward him if he rapes, then marries his victim and will punish the already traumatised girl with lifelong rape punishment. This might seem unbelievably cruel, but it is clearly shows that Islam sees women as in-animate objects with no feelings, created to serve Muslim man's animalistic sexual appetite. He is not taught to civilise or control his sexual urges or to respect women. -lifelong rape of little girls ia allowed when 9 year old girls are given to old men in marriage- following 53 year old Prophet Mohammad's marriage to nine year old Aisha and the subsequent paedophile crimes committed by Muslim men through the last 1400 years by following his example. Muslim males demonstrated in Yaman against banning child marriage after many girls bled to death when their owner husbands mutilated their vaginas, they shouted" banning it is "UN-ISLAMIC as their beloved prophet,the morally perfect one, had set an example" -A Quranic verse (surat al-nisa ayat 34) orders husbands to beat up their wives if he suspects disobedience- Islam encouraged domestic violence, so no cosmetic efforts by Kurdish government can end such violence against women when every Muslim man has learned he can abuse women, beat them, rape girls ( Knowing he'll be rewarded with a child bride by Islam's Laws), even can take unlimited infidel sex-slaves, called Sabaya in Quran, as instructed by a Quranic verse and demonstrated by their perfect prophet when he took Safia, the wife of the chief of Jewish tribe (Abu Qarida) after ordering the beheading of all 600 male members of her tribe before raping her on the same night. Muslim men read and know Islamic scriptures that tell them they can do what they like to women who are worthless, can be treated as objects with no feelings.That's why he can beat her, rape her, marry up to 4 wives over her. Mohammad showed he had no regard for wife's feelings when he allowed polygemy, her feelings of low self esteem, worthlessness, jealousy as she thinks about her husband having sex with up to 4 other women which to her feels like betrayal, unfaithfulness. Mohammad spoiled Muslim men sexually. These men are the product of the backward, primitive 7 century Islamic culture which is unbelievably abusive towards women.
Meme | 18/1/2016
I agree with some points in this article but first being treated different as a woman compared to a man does not mean that men become harassors as a result of that. This al has to due with how you are being raised and what values your parents teach you. Secondly, if you are a woman and being harassed in Kurdistan whether it is in the shopping mall or somewhere else if you scream than suddenly out of the blue people and the asayis (secret police) will come out and beat the hell out of the harassor. If he is a foreigner he will be put out of Kurdistan and registrered on the blacklist. As a woman I feel much safer in Kurdistan than in Europe. Finally, in the west they have gone mad, if you fight ISIS they prosecute you which is a clear signal to harassors that they can do what they want. In kurdistan you are a hero if you kill those basterds.
Deborah | 19/1/2016
It starts with leadership. People follow strong leadership, the right kind and the wrong kind. Our Western countries need leaders who are well informed and take heed of intelligence services and say NO, Merkel got it wrong..,the altruistic throwing open of arms to 800,000 migrants not properly screened and processed, as an emotional response to the Syrian refugee crisis, has cost her dearly and threatened her society. Emotional sympathy is as much a bad informant for decision making as is fear. The naivety of her decision beggars belief and show total lack of understanding of Middle Eastern culture. Am proud my UK nation and leadership has taken the stance of camp to camp transfer only, harsh but wise. These men were uneducated, probably desperate, opportunistic, ignorant of civilised behaviour and probably brought up with exactly the view of women you mention and is characteristic of Islamic culture as we all know so let's not pretend or try to be politically correct and tepid, which begs the question does it have a place in the developed world? Contentious point yes, real issue yes.

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