The OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting in Vienna wrapped up with yesterday’s sessions in Vienna. As I mentioned earlier, the meeting’s theme was “Gender equality, with a special focus on combating violence against women”.
Before the day was over, those four organizations had been accused of “hate speech” by certain of the other delegates for their presentations and recommendations.
But first things first. Here’s the official intervention and recommendation by Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff of Pax Europa:
The presentations by various members of the Counterjihad groups were referred to as “hate speech” by some of the other participants. One of the Austrian representatives made this response (translated from the German):
Inappropriate Use of ‘Hate Speech’ Allegations at the OSCE Gender Equality Meeting in Vienna
Reply by the Austrian Representative regarding the accusation of “hate speech” against NGOs
I object to a certain debate culture which is employed more and more often by a certain group of participants. Disagreement with someone else’s opinion is immediately denounced as hate speech. The accusation of hate speech is a serious one. We have been dealing intensively with this phenomenon in these human dimension meetings for many years. We take part in these human dimension meetings precisely because we need to find solutions to the current grave problems. The localization and identification of the problems and their implications are an important prerequisite to finding a solution.
Now if a certain negative social behavior — and here I am alluding to this meeting’s topic — like FGM and forced marriages, is manifested only in very specific religious and ethnic migrant groups, this group must be able to be identified. This is not stereotyping, but a fact, and definitely not hate speech.
To conclude, educating female milk farmers in (the Austrian state of) Styria on the dangers of FGM will not be helpful.
(The Ambassador was alluding to the frequent call for education in order to combat violence against women.)
Below are some of the official recommendations presented to the OSCE by representatives of the various Counterjihad NGOs that took part in the sessions on Thursday and Friday:
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Intervention and Recommendation by Pax Europa, Session 3
“Gender Equality and The Threat From Religious Law”
One issue that has been left out until now, it seems to me, is violence against women that is backed by principles of the Muslim faith. I do not have to tell you about the honor killings in Germany, Denmark, and the United Kingdom, among other countries; as well as forced marriages, in addition to the Koranic verse 4:34, which says — and I quote -:
You have rights over your wives and they have rights over you. You have the right that they should not defile your bed and that they should not behave with open unseemliness. If they do, God allows you to put them in separate rooms and to beat them but not with severity. If they refrain from these things, they have the right to their food and clothing with kindness. Lay injunctions on women kindly, for they are prisoners with you having no control of their own persons. (Guillaume’s translation, p. 651) (Ibn Ishaq)
Why are we not discussing this issue here and at other occasions in a depth that does justice to this problem?
I therefore recommend that ODIHR urgently start a working group on violence against women in Islam in order to find out how to best approach this in the context of the OSCE human dimension.
Recommendations by Wiener Akademikerbund:
Regarding the basic questions of Western civilization and constitutionality with special focus on the view of gender in religious communities, we recommend that participating States look into the practices of religious communities and determine whether their views of human rights and gender equality are constitutional.
a) What views of women’s rights is Female Genital Mutilation based on? b) What does the religious ruling on headscarves tell us about men and their views? c) What is the definition of female gender if it is not considered a legal person or its testimony in court counts only as half of that of a man?
These fundamental questions need to be asked. In order to successfully integrate religious communities into western civilization a very basic discussion on gender matters needs to take place.
In addition, religious communities should be required to state what extent their image of women fits in with western civilization.
Below are the recommendations proposed jointly by ICLA, Mission Europa, Pax Europa, and Wiener Akademikerbund at yesterday’s Human Dimension meeting:
“Gender Equality and The Threat From Religious Law”
“The peace and welfare of the world require maximum participation of women on equal terms with men in all fields.” — United Nations General Assembly resolution 34/180 of 18 December 1979
The OSCE has recognized that comprehensive security in its participating states depends on “The full and equal exercise by women of their human rights [as being] essential to achiev[ing] a more peaceful, prosperous and democratic OSCE area.” In many participating states gender equality is indeed a fact, even if only by law. However, much more needs to be done.
For many women, violence is a part of their daily lives. Violence can manifest itself in many forms, but it is domestic violence against women that calls for elimination. The OSCE and its Action Plan for the Promotion of Gender Equality (2004) can actively contribute to the elimination of domestic violence. Since gender quality contributes to comprehensive security, the participating states are called upon to ensure that women and men are granted equal status before the law. Unfortunately, there are more and more cases in the OSCE in which religious law is taken into consideration by both the state and the religious groups and accepted as equal to secular law. This is especially harmful for women as they are particularly discriminated against by these religious laws, practices, and courts. Permitting sharia courts to operate, as we see happening in the United Kingdom, are by definition a violation of the principle of gender equality, due to the literalist interpretation of scripture employed by these religious courts.
A case in point concerns the religious sharia courts in the United Kingdom, which have been sanctioned by the government. Eighty-four courts are currently operating, with more being planned. And it is in these courts that women are not treated as being equal before the law. The cases are tried according to the sharia, and not secular law, with the rulings endorsed by the British government.
The following are selected cases from the OSCE area:
From the Times Online:
“Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi said that in a recent inheritance dispute handled by the court in Nuneaton, the estate of a Midlands man was divided between three daughters and two sons.
The judges on the panel gave the sons twice as much as the daughters, in accordance with sharia. Had the family gone to a normal British court, the daughters would have got equal amounts.
In the six cases of domestic violence, Siddiqi said the judges ordered the husbands to take anger management classes and mentoring from community elders. There was no further punishment.
In each case, the women subsequently withdrew the complaints they had lodged with the police and the police stopped their investigations.
Siddiqi said that in the domestic violence cases, the advantage was that marriages were saved and couples given a second chance.”
From The Global Post:
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.
A woman in a 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.
Third of Turkish women report abuse: A total of 34 percent of married women participating in a survey said they were victims of domestic violence while 88.6 percent of married male respondents said they had never engaged in physical violence with their spouse.
The European Court of Human Rights, or ECHR, ruled Turkey had denied a citizen her “right to life” by failing to prevent her murder by her son-in-law and ordered it to pay damages. It was the first time the court ruled against a state for failing to protect a citizen against domestic violence, Turkish broadcasters reported. Turkey was also found to have violated the convention on human rights which prohibits torture, inhumane treatment and discrimination in Opuz vs. Turkey. It was ordered to pay 36,500 euros ($50,670) to the applicant, whose ex-husband killed her mother, according to a ruling on the ECHR’s website. “The general and discriminatory judicial passivity in Turkey created a climate that was conducive to domestic violence,” the court said in the statement. As many as half of Turkish women face violence in the home, Amnesty International has said, and dozens of women are killed in so-called “honor killings” each year.
In light of these and so many other cases of violence against women, and in acknowledging that it is the responsibility of the participating states to promote equality between women and men, Pax Europa and its allied organizations International Civil Liberties Alliance (ICLA), Mission Europa and Wiener Akademikerbund submit the following recommendations:
- Participating States must point out to all religious groups that men and women enjoy quality before the law. In addition, participating states should punish violations according to the law.
- Participating states should particularly focus on the following:
1. Inheritance laws must be enforced equally for men and women. 2. Testimony from a woman must be considered equal to that of a man. 3. Corporal punishments inflicted from men on women must be strictly prohibited and, if prohibited by law, the law must be enforced and perpetrator be brought to justice.
- The practice of polygamy must be punished under the law.
- In order to make gender equality a reality, it is necessary that participating states establish the basic conditions for a minimum of economic security.
Previous posts about the OSCE and the Counterjihad: