A new report has come out showing that, as in most places, domestic violence is a serious problem in Turkey. But not only are rates of intimate partner violence in Turkey significantly higher than in the U.S., where statistics are already terrifyingly high, women in Turkey are also seemingly significantly less likely to seek help:
A woman in the studio audience stands up and, with the spotlight highlighting her covered head, announces to the crowd that her husband abuses her but that she doesn’t know how to react and still be a good Muslim.
The host of this popular Turkish TV show, “Islam in Our Life,” Professor Faruk Beser, is — from his trimmed mustache to his tailored suit — the image of a modern, successful Turkish man. But as he approaches the woman, his answer is far from progressive.
Looking her in the eye, Beser urges the woman to “carry this pain within you and keep living with your husband,” prescribing constant prayer over divorce, and reminding the woman of the rewards she will receive in heaven for her suffering.
What is shocking about this scene is not so much the reaction of the host, a man known for his conservative interpretation of Islam in a country that is 99 percent Muslim, but rather that the woman had the courage to speak up at all.
Four out of 10 women in Turkey are beaten by their husbands, according to the recent study entitled “Domestic Violence against Women in Turkey,” which has collected the first official statistics on this topic in Turkey. Even more disturbing, the study reveals that a significant number of abused women, almost 90 percent, do not seek help from any organization.
It’s worth noting, of course, that Islam is hardly the only religion used to promote misogynistic ideas about how women should stay with abusive husbands in order to be eligible for a happy afterlife. But it should also go without saying that the religious component of the problem can’t just go ignored in creating solutions. If the women being abused are Muslim, and believe that their religion bars them from speaking out and seeking help, setting up more shelters isn’t going to make more than 10% of those abused women attempt to get assistance.
That’s a big part of the reason why I think that those Muslim women who are directly using Islam as a way to make arguments in favor of women’s rights, as I wrote about just the other day, have exactly the right idea. Again, you have to work within the conditions you’re facing, and the same problems can require radically different approaches for different communities. If the community is particularly religious, chances are that effective solutions are going to involve religion in some way, too.
Thanks to Will for the link.