Monthly Archives: January 2017

Death by Stoning

By: Alexandra Kinias –

b7ff0f307bc8337Stoning is an ancient practice that was used as punishment for crimes that varied from adultery to murder, in cultures and religions that predated Islam. Greeks used stoning to punish prostitutes, adulterers and murderers. It is also documented in the Jewish Tradition via the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, and the Talmud, or Jewish Oral Law. In the Old Testament of the Bible, stoning is prescribed a method of execution for crimes such as murder, blasphemy or apostasy. [1] Although there is no mention of stoning in the Quran, the practice has since grown to be associated with Islam and Muslim culture. Muslim clerics argue over the legality of stoning in Islam and there is “no consensus within the global Muslim community over the validity of the practice as “Islamic Law.” Stoning as a punishment for adultery reappeared and instated as governing laws of some countries in the 20th century with the rise and spread of political Islam.

In Pakistan, President Muhammad Zia –ul-Haq who ruled from (1977-1988) enforced Nizam-e-Mustafa (“Rule of the prophet” or Islamic System, i.e. establishing an Islamic state and sharia law [2]. He replaced many clause of the Pakistani Penal Code with sharia law, and the stoning to death as a punishment for adultery was instated.

On April 30, 2014, Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan of Brunei, announced in a press conference the implementation of tough Islamic criminal punishments in his sultanate that includes flogging, severing of limbs and death by stoning for adultery and sodomy. [3] [4]

Unlike beheading, where the victim’s life ends by a stroke of a sword, stoning is a slow and painful death. It violates international human rights standards [5] and is prohibited by international laws and condemned by human and women rights groups as a form of cruel, inhuman, degrading and torturous punishments [6]. Stoning is also another example of discrimination against women, who represent the vast majority of its victims, even though both genders should be punished equally for the same crime.

Stoning, rajm in Arabic, is carried out by a group of people (multiple executioners’ vs one executioner for beheading) by hurling stones at the victim, so not one individual is identified as the killer or blamed for it. , Today, no believers of any faith, but Islam practice stoning, and it is only carried out in lands where Sharia rules, as a punishment for adultery by married people (zina), thus it became a stigma attached to Islam and Muslim culture and another layer of abuse and control over women in several Islamic societies.

Stoning is not legal in all Muslim countries though. In some countries like Mauritania and Qatar, stoning has never been used although it remains legal. In the UAE, several people were convicted of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning, but the punishment was never carried out [7] [8] [9] mostly because of human rights pressures backed by UN resolutions for a moratorium on the use of death punishment [10] [11], in general, and because stoning in particular is a politically sensitive issues.

Stoning is also the law and legal punishment for adultery in Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and the 12 Muslim majority states of Northern Nigeria. In 2012, Mali witnessed its first case of stoning after the Islamist militants affiliated to Al Qaeda took control of the northern part of the country and implemented the sharia law. The couple accused of adultery were forced into holes about four feet deep, with their heads protruding, and then stoned to death [12].

On the other hand, in war torn countries and in conflict areas, like Afghanistan and Iraq where stoning was outlawed, tribal leaders, militants and warlords still enforce their own laws. They extra-judicially try, convict and sentence women within their control to death by stoning.

Disgracefully, the most prominent reason for the stoning women today is the influence of the stagnant societies they are living in, which harbor mentalities that have stopped evolving over the centuries. In this time and age, there is no excuse for women to suffer under the name of any religion or culture, but the gruesome reality is they still do. Women in these societies live in fear and despair. They are treated with violence. Their safety is at risk, with the threat of conviction looming over their heads for simply being born females. They are stripped from their basic human rights and their fates are still determined and controlled by men.

Stoning to death in these cultures is a punishment believed to salvage, protect and restore the honor of a man, and suppression of women a proof of manhood.  How can we expect women to stand fair trials in these communities, when the governing laws, inherited from medieval practices, already discriminate against them?

Women activists have launched an international campaign to ban stoning and are putting pressure on the UN to adopt a resolution to eradicate this barbaric practice. Their efforts have not been successful yet, but they are not giving up. Unfortunately, adopting a resolution to ban the practice is not going to eradicate it because the cultures that implement it are following their own laws. It has to first be eradicated from the mentalities of those who practice it since religious laws and tribal laws they follow are more powerful than the UN resolutions.

Unfortunately, no tangible results will be achieved in the near future in societies where women’s lives are dispensable and where they are treated as commodities; sold, used as bargaining chips to settle disputes and pay debts. In these societies, men should not be expected to change their behaviors and beliefs because of a UN resolution.

References:
[1] Frequently Asked Questions about Stoning, Violence is Not Our Culture, http://www.violenceisnotourculture.org/faq_stoning

[2] Kepel, Gilles (2002). Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam (2006 ed.). I.B.Tauris. pp. 100–101. https://books.google.com/books?id=OLvTNk75hUoC&pg=PA100&dq=Nizam-e-Mustafa+sharia&hl=en&sa=X&ei=VMqBVLDYCsSoyAS8yYKYBw&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=Nizam-e-Mustafa%20sharia&f=false

[3] Sultan of Brunei announces Syariah law to start Thursday http://www.thestar.com.my/news/regional/2014/04/30/brunei-syariah-start-thursday/

[4] Sultan of Brunei unveils strict sharia penal code
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/30/sultan-brunei-sharia-penal-code-flogging-death-stoning

[5] Human Rights Watch: Sudan: Ban Death by Stoning, May 31, 2012
https://www.hrw.org/news/2012/05/31/sudan-ban-death-stoning

[6] Amnesty International: Afghanistan: Reject stoning, flogging, amputation and other Taliban-era punishments, 26 November 2013
https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2013/11/afghanistan-reject-stoning-flogging-amputation-and-other-taliban-era-punishments/

[7] Expat faces death by stoning after admitting in court to cheating on husband, May 6, 2014,  https://7days.ae/expat-faces-death-stoning-admitting-court-cheating-husband

[8] Amnesty International- UAE: Death by stoning/ flogging, 12 June 2006, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/MDE25/005/2006/en/

[9] Two women sentenced to death for adultery, September 25, 2013
http://www.khaleejtimes.com/article/20130925/ARTICLE/309259957/1011

[10] General Assembly Adopts Landmark Text Calling for Moratorium on Death Penalty, 18 December 2007, http://www.un.org/press/en/2007/ga10678.doc.htm

[11]  General Assembly Adopts 50 Third Committee Resolutions, as Diverging Views on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity Animate Voting, 19 December 2016 https://www.un.org/press/en/2016/ga11879.doc.htm

[12] Islamists in North Mali Stone Couple to Death, By Adam Nossiter, July 30, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/31/world/africa/couple-stoned-to-death-by-islamists-in-mali.html

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Women in Morocco Fight Domestic Violence with Makeup

Tuesday January 3, 2017
By Alexandra Kinias

583c53551a00002500cca0a9On November 23, 2016, two days prior to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the national Moroccan television channel 2M aired a tutorial on the morning women show Sabaheyat on how to conceal domestic violence bruises with makeup.  “Today we will be approaching a painful and shameful topic, but on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, we’ll show you how to use makeup to conceal the bruises. It’s not a subject we want to talk about, but unfortunately that what goes on,” said makeup artist Lilia Mouline.

violence-cover-up-large_trans_nvbqzqnjv4bqqvzuuqpflyliwib6ntmjwfsvwez_ven7c6bhu2jjnt8After charming the viewers with her smile, Mouline introduced a model with bruised face, and assured the audience that her bruises are cinematic makeup. To camouflage the model’s fake bruises, she first suggested applying a green corrector to cover the redness, advising not to press too hard as the skin should still be sensitive from the trauma. She then applied an orange corrector to cover the purple bruises, and went on to conceal the face with yellow foundation. “If you use the white one [foundation], your red punch marks will always show.” She said.

While applying more layers of liquid foundation, she recommended the cosmetic brand names she used and where to find them, and hoped that she had given women “the solution they need to proceed with their daily lives, under the circumstances.”

The video went viral and ignited extreme controversy. The national television station 2M went under-fire. With the soaring rates of domestic violence in Morocco and the incompetence of the government to battle it, the featured segment raised angry roars from women activists fighting for the cause.  The show was denounced on social media for sending out a message to accept and to cope with domestic violence rather than condemning it. Women activists accused the channel of encouraging the perpetrators to proceed with their abuse, since their actions can be concealed, instead of demanding to punish them.

According to Human’s Rights Watch, a national  survey [1] of women aged 18 to 65 by the Moroccan High Commission for Planning found that in 2009 nearly two-thirds – 62.8 percent – had experienced physical, psychological, sexual, or economic violence. Of the sample interviewed, 55 percent reported “conjugal” violence and 13.5 percent reported “familial” violence. Only 3 percent of those who had experienced conjugal violence had reported it to the authorities.

domestic-violence-morocco-tvAfter the harsh criticism, and the circulation of an online petition [2] calling for severe actions against the morning show, the television channel issued an apology statement on its Facebook page [3] denouncing the segment and their “error in judgement in view of the sensitivity and the gravity of the subject of violence against women.”  The statement admitted that it was “completely inappropriate” and the video [4] was removed off its website.

morroco-759Mouline denied the accusation that the program encourages domestic violence.  “We are here to provide solutions to these women who, for a period of two to three weeks, are putting their social life aside while their wounds heal,” she explained in an interview [5] with the Moroccan news website and radio, yabiladi.com. “These women have already been subjected to moral humiliation and do not need to also have others looking at them. Makeup allows women to continue to live normally while waiting for justice.”

In Morocco, however, domestic violence is not a crime, and with no laws to criminalize the act and punish the perpetrators, there is no justice brought for these women. Not only that, but abused women are sent back by their families to continue living with their abusers.

The Moroccan government started discussions over combating violence against women in 2006, and a bill was finally drafted in 2013, but it has not been effective yet. The bill was a disappointment to women activists and was criticized by Human Rights Watch (HRW) as “it defines violence against women in a broad category, but lacks a strong definition to specifically address domestic violence. It also does not criminalize marital rape.” [6]

In a letter [7] sent to the government on February 2016, HRW expressed their concern with the bill and urged the Moroccan government to ‘strengthen’ the law to protect the victims by defining “domestic violence” to include physical, sexual, psychological, and economic violence and to state that marital rape is a crime.

According to testimonials of domestic violence survivors to HRW, law enforcement in Morocco – when dealing with violence against women – is inadequate, almost non-existent. According to HRW report, women said that “police officers refused to record their statements, failed to investigate, and refused to arrest domestic abuse suspects even after prosecutors ordered them to. In some cases, police did nothing more than tell victims to return to their abusers.”  [8] Many domestic violence victims are unable to leave their abusive husbands for lack of women shelters and finical needs.

Women in Morocco live in a culture where domestic violence dominates the lives of many. Bruised faces are a fact of their life, as the makeup artist bluntly explained it. Airing the segment on how conceal domestic violence on the occasion of the International Day to Eliminate Violence was certainly a miscalculated act that demonstrated poor judgment from the producers. However, with the incompetence of the government to take action, what other choices women are left with to “proceed with their lives” other than follow the advice of makeup artists and conceal their bruises with makeup.

References:

1- National survey on domestic violence by the Moroccan High Commission for Planning: http://www.hcp.ma/downloads/Violence-a-l-egard-des-femmes_t13077.html

2- Petition against the Moroccan channel:
https://www.change.org/p/haca-don-t-cover-domestic-violence-with-makeup?recruiter=21569190&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=fb_send_dialog

3- M2 Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/2m.officiel/?ref=nf

4- Video aired by Moroccan TV to show how to hide domestic abuse by using make up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPMJ8msKb5o

5- Lilia Mouline interview with yabaladi.com news: http://www.yabiladi.com/articles/details/48752/combattre-violence-faite-femmes-avec.html

6- HRW letter to Moroccan government:
https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/02/15/letter-human-rights-watch-government-morocco-domestic-violence-law-reforms

7-Ibid

8- Morocco: Tepid Response on Domestic Violence:
https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/02/15/morocco-tepid-response-domestic-violence

 

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