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Domestic Violence

Making Domestic Violence a Crime in Muslim Countries

Since the 1970s, over (50) countries have enacted legislation making domestic violence a crime. Violence within marriage is now considered a public policy issue and state intervention within the private sphere is legitmised by changing social attitudes, new legislation and new police powers that recognize domestic violence as a crime.

Malaysia, in 1996 became the first Muslim country among the 57 members of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) countries to enact a domestic violence law which makes domestic violence a crime. In 1998, the Turkish Parliament enacted Law no 4320 on the Protection of Family, which enables a woman to obtain a protection order to remove the offender from the home or workplace. It does not however provide for prosecution of offenders.

Just this September 2004, the Indonesian Parliament passed the Elimination of Domestic Violence Law during its last sitting of its just ended parliamentary term. This is a progressive law which makes physical, psychological, and sexual violence and economic abandonment offences under the Act. Sexual violence against a wife is also an offence. The Act also covers violence against domestic workers. This is a major success for the women's movement in Indonesia which drafted the law and lobbied effectively for the passage of the bill, against opposition from certain Islamic parties and the executive branch of government, especially against the section on sexual violence against a wife.

Women's groups in several other Muslim countries are also campaigning for domestic violence legislation. In Punjab, Pakistan, the Punjab Prevention of Domestic Violence Bill, 2003, introduced by the state government is being finalised by a standing committee of the National Assembly. In Lebanon, women's groups are lobbying the government for the enactment of a Domestic Violence Act. The campaign to enact legislation against domestic violence in Muslim countries faces particular challenges, foremost the traditional argument used that such a law is against Islam which permits a husband to discipline his wife. This argument is based on a traditionalist interpretation of Verse 4:34 in the Qur'an.

The articles and links provided below give a range of materials which we hope will be useful for groups planning to campaign for domestic violence legislation and the need to build public support for such a law in Muslim societies.

The materials listed include:

Differing and alternative interpretations of Verse 4:34

Kecia Ali: Muslim Sexual Ethics: Understanding a Difficult Verse, Qur’an 4:34
Sisters in Islam: Are Muslim
Men Allowed to Beat Their Wives?
Sa’diyya Shaikh: Exegetical Violence: Nushuz in Qur’anic Gender Ideology (permission given)
Edip Yuksel: Beating Women, or Beating Around the Bush, Or…
Fatimah Khaldoon: Qur'anic Perspective on Wife Beating and Abuse

Campaigning for a Domestic Violence Act

Women's Aid Organisation (WAO): Malaysian Women's Campaign for the Domestic Violence Act
Sisters in Islam letter to the editor: Domestic Violence is a Criminal Act
WAO: Monitoring the Domestic Violence Act
Women for Women’s Human Rights New Ways, Turkey: Justification on for a Domestic Violence law on the Protection of the Family
BAOBAB: National Human Rights Tribunal on Violence Against Women in Nigeria
Domestic Violence Against Women and Girls; written by Radika Coomaraswamy in Innocenti Digest 6< (Links)

Domestic Violence in Muslim societies/communities

Muslims Against Domestic Violence
Lisa Hajjar: Domestic Violence and Shar’ia: A Comparative Study of Muslim Societies in the Middle East, Africa and Asia
Sharifa Alkhateeb: Ending Domestic Violence in Muslim Families
An Imam’s Guide to dealing with domestic violence in the West

Domestic Violence Legislation in Muslim Countries

The Domestic Violence Act, 1994, Malaysia
Law No.4320 on the Protection of the Family, 1998,Turkey.
Other domestic violence laws <(Links)
The Violence Against Women Monitor< (Links)

Documents in Arabic

Al-Arabiya - Domestic Violence
Al-Jazeera - Domestic Violence
Aman Jordan - Violence Against Women Study
Free Muslim - Domestic Violence
Rezgar - Violence Against Women
Tharwa Project - Violence Against Women Syria
VAW in the Arab World

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Their views do not necessarily reflect those of the Rights at Home project/ISIM

Interpretations of Verse 4:34


Domestic Violence in Muslim societies

Documents in Arabic