“Why pick on Islam only?” This wonderful piece was written exclusively for Shariawatch.org.uk and Examine-Islam.org. by a British ex-Muslim woman explains that it is important to ALL women – both Muslim and non-Muslim – to Examine Islam for what it really is – a hateful, misogynistic sect which literally kills women to uphold its backwards idea of ‘honour’. Only in the Islamic version of ‘honour’ could forced marriage and murder of female family members constitute an appropriate response. The testimony from a woman brought up a Muslim and forced into marriage, in Britain, should make only the most determinedly in denial to wake up to the horror of Islam. The truth of how Muslims treat their own family members is horrific. The truth of how they treat non-Muslims is obvious in all the mass rapes and sexual exploitation we have witnessed. It is time to wake up.
Voluble thanks go to the author of this piece for speaking out. This is her story. Please share it to open the eyes of everyone you know.
Islam kills women? By Shazia Hobbs, author of The Gori’s Daughter.
When I was asked to write a piece on the campaign ‘Islam kills women’ I instantly thought of all the women and girls, who had been murdered in the UK or around the world, and whose tragic stories I had read. I thought of the women who are oppressed in countries ruled by Sharia law, countries in which women are killed by Muslim men, in the name of Islam.
We know it happens. And we know the difficulties women face in Islamic countries if they challenge the laws.
I have lost track of how many petitions I have signed in the hope that prisoners will be released. Prisoned for questioning the hypocrisy and barbarity that is evident in all Islamic countries.
We know it happens here, in the UK, where figures show 12 honour killings a year are reported. When I was asked to write this piece I did not for a minute think or ask, “Why pick on Islam only?” I did not for a minute think it was racist or bigoted to focus on Islam and only Islam, and the women killed by Muslim men who believe Allah will be pleased by their murderous actions. How easy it is for some people, though, to look the other way when faced with blatant injustice, through fear of being called names, or simply through sheer ignorance and denial.
Whenever I read the desperate stories, I cannot help but think back to my own upbringing, in a Muslim home. It was an upbringing in which I did not dare question the different treatment of men and women in the family, an upbringing in which it was normal for the men to have more freedom than the women.
I may not have been allowed freedom at home but at school it was a different matter. There, even though I was discouraged from mixing with boys by my father, I did still talk to boys and I even dated boys, with only the fear of getting into trouble rather than the fear of being killed, for defying my father’s orders.
My punishment for bringing ‘shame’ onto the family name was to be married off to an unsuitable distant relative, a stranger who I met for the first time on the night of the forced marriage. I was 18 years old, when I was forced into this marriage, and I think of myself as one of the lucky ones rather than a victim because I escaped with my life for the crime of becoming too westernised. My father did not take the law into his own hands and kill me, nor did he consult the community leaders and wider community for an opinion on what to do with his wayward daughter, and then allow some other family member to carry out an honour killing, on his behalf.
I am lucky to be alive but nonetheless, I was forced into a life of never ending misery. Days after the forced marriage took place I knew there would be no happy ever after for me. How could there be when I had been married off against my will to become someone else’s responsibility, because my father was no longer able to control me, and my ‘husband’ had married me with his eyes more firmly placed on a British passport than any interest in me. My husband cared not one bit about my feelings, my dreams or my plans for the future.
From the start he made it clear that our marriage would not be equal and that he was the boss. I was there to cook, clean, wash and bear him a child year after year. Six months into the marriage I ripped up the marriage certificate and threw the papers at him, demanding a divorce. I screamed three times at him, ‘I divorce you! I divorce you! I divorce you!’ He laughed at me and that was how I found out that only Muslim men could divorce their wives this way, because women don’t have this unilateral right of divorce.
I begged him to divorce me but the British passport was more important to him than my unhappiness. Forced to stay in the misery of a marriage, unable to escape, I became depressed and thought of suicide. It’s the only time in my life when I have suffered from such low thoughts. I was living a life with a man I did not even like, never mind love, a man who I knew felt the same about me. He spoke down to me, as though I was an idiot, he criticised every aspect of my life down to the way I spoke and if I dared speak back or defend myself, which I did often on those days he used his fists. I was more than able to defend myself in a vocal argument with him but when it came to fists, I was terrified. He was a man and he was stronger than me. I hated him.
In the very early days, though, when I became pregnant with his child, just weeks into the marriage, this pleased him. He was even quite charming and I thought maybe it could work out. I would soon learn, though, that having his baby would change nothing, and any thoughts of happiness soon disappeared.
Being pregnant releases hormones and women often feel happy. They are said to be “glowing.” That wasn’t my experience. I was depressed. I had nobody to turn to and no way out of the life I was being forced to live. Forced into a marriage, and then forced into a pregnancy and then forced into becoming a mother, suicidal thoughts were often in my mind. I never thought of how I would kill myself, I just wanted to die and for the pain and misery to be over.
Despite my emotional frailty, the birth of my first son was a happy moment. I remember being proud of the perfect little boy I had created – even though the nurses and mums in the beds beside me all thought my ‘husband’ was my father coming to visit his grandson. Nothing and no one could have spoilt the joy I felt, at least initially, at having given birth to my son.
The feelings of joy didn’t last long and I soon slipped back into depression, this time even worse than before as I now had a baby to care for. Families either do not realise or just do not care when they force their young children to marry and then to become parents, which makes them take on responsibilities they are mentally unprepared for. I was not ready to be a wife and I was even less ready to be a mother. Thankfully my mother took over the caring and well-being of my son, visiting every day, making sure the baby had been bathed, taking over feeds and generally taking care of him.
I spent a lot of time at my parent’s home, during my forced marriage. Anything to escape having to share a bed with my husband. After my son was born, I began to spend even more time at my parents’ home, as I hated being alone, cooped up in a flat with just me and the baby. My parent’s house was busy and there was always someone wanting to hold the baby. I could pretend I was still living at home, pretend I had no husband and pretend that the baby belonged to someone else.
However, I knew I could only pretend for so long and that I would eventually have to face reality and go back to my husband. Until one day, that is, when having had enough of pretending I found the strength to walk out and take control of my own life and to be responsible for my own decisions and choices. I knew it would mean losing my son, who would be sent to live with his grandparents in Pakistan and that it would also mean losing the Pakistani side of my identity.
I escaped from my forced marriage and once again my father chose not to kill me. Luckily for me, the Islam he followed told him there was no honour in killing. His punishment was limited to merely disowning me from the family and in turn from the entire Pakistani community thus forcing me to live amongst white people (oh, the shame). As he saw it, he was forcing me to live amongst people who neither knew me nor cared about me, people who were strangers and whose cultures and traditions were just as strange.
I quickly learned to stifle my Pakistani traits. Having been raised in a Pakistani home I knew of no other way to be, but to integrate and fit in with my new friends I had to change. Such is the powers of family tradition that, even where it causes misery, as in my case, I still saw giving up my Pakistani traits as a punishment. In my darkest moments I saw this as worse than death.
Loneliness was a new experience, and I found it difficult to deal with. In the Pakistani community, especially for women, there is little time to be alone. With extended families living together in large numbers – a popular practice for the Mirpuri community where they think nothing of forced first cousin marriages – the only time you are alone is in the bathroom or your bedroom. Otherwise there is always someone around, young and old. So as you can imagine, being alone for the first time was both terrifying and exhilarating.
I was in my early 20s and for the first time in my life I had freedom. Freedom is a strange thing to have when your entire life has been controlled for you, and discovering freedom for the first time I behaved recklessly and believed I was invincible with this newfound freedom. At first I often kept to Pakistani friends – it was the only community I had ever known, after all – because I still had the need to be part of something familiar. I would see my Pakistani friends go home to their own families and be welcomed, even though many were doing what I was doing – ‘haram things’– but I knew I would never again be accepted by my family.
It would always be my flat that everyone chilled out in without fear of being caught. This was because I had been disowned and there was never a risk of anybody from my family turning up announced, as Mirpuri families are famous for.
I am now in my 40s and I have been dead to my father for longer than I spent living at home being his obedient daughter. In that time I have seen an increase in the honour killings and crimes towards Muslim girls and women. The first time I heard of an honour killing was when I was a teenager. I remember there was a story on the front page of the newspaper about a Muslim family from somewhere in England, who had murdered their daughter for becoming too westernised. This was to protect their honour in the Pakistani community, a community, like every other community in the world that loves nothing better than to have a good gossip. We all do it, we all pick up the phone or meet friends for coffee and a chat, and somewhere in that chat, a little bit of gossip is shared. For some in the Pakistani community they thrive on the gossip and never for a minute stop to think of the consequences their gossiping may have on someone’s life.
The community leaders and preachers in the UK and around the world could put a stop to the killing of Muslim girls and women just by changing what they preach to their faithful followers. There was a time in the UK when Pakistani women wore vibrant and colourful shalwar kameez – traditional outfits consisting of long dress and trousers – with a dupatta – a scarf draped over their neck or over the back of their head. Then the community leaders started preaching their nonsense and the sheep in the community started listening and whereas before a father didn’t mind his daughter going out uncovered he now demanded she wear the hijab. Now, in some towns and cities, there seems to be more Pakistani girls and women covered head to toe in black than wearing the colourful and vibrant colours of the past.
Fathers who had previously understood that their daughters would need to speak to the opposite sex at school, college, university and work, and who had understood that this was part of living in a secular society, all of a sudden kept their daughters at home until they could be married off or quietly killed, depending on how much the fathers idolised and listened to the hate and sheer nonsense spouted by their local community leaders.
Muslim men are killing their daughters, or forcing them to live in misery, with no sense of remorse or guilt, purely because of Islam. These men think only of pleasing their own retarded notions of pride and the egos of hate filled preachers, whose sermons they have listened to day after day, whether at the mosque in an audience of other local Muslim men from their communities or in the comfort of their own homes, watching the latest guest on the Islamic TV channels.
Anyone who has allowed Muslim women’s voices to be silenced, by allowing Muslim community leaders, always men, to speak on behalf of women and the issues that affect Muslim women, which are issues that need the expertise and experience of (funnily enough) Muslim women, is complicit in perpetuating the killing and subjugation of Muslim women in the name of Islam. They are guilty of putting the neuroses and insecurities of Muslim men over the rights of Muslim women regardless of how loud the Muslim women were shouting to be heard, and they are guilty also of prioritising their own fear of being labelled a racist above all else, resulting in the shameful appeasement of the demands of Muslim men at the expense of real, brutal suffering of Muslim women.
Examine Islam and Sharia Watch’s campaign, Islam Kills Women will culminate in a demonstration in Central London on August 20th. Please sign up to the newsletter for updates.
Praise for The Gori’s Daughter:
“I congratulate Shazia for sharing Aisha with us. Aisha has helped me and she will help so many others. Not just children of mixed race, but children of mixed culture who decided to make their own choices and fight against the oppressive and repressive expectations set by their families and communities in the name of religion and in order to protect honour, tradition and culture.”