1 in 5 Muslim women in Malaysia believe husbands have a right to beat their wives

The survey of 675 women also found that 70 per cent of Muslim women believe polygamay is a man’s right. However, only 32 per cent said they would accept it in their own marriage.
Reuters

A new survey by non-profit group Sisters in Islam has found that as many as 21 per cent (or around one in five) Muslim women in Malaysia believe their husbands have a right to beat them.

“Muslim women have been so thoroughly indoctrinated to obey that it takes a mufti to issue a declaration that women who have been assaulted or violated by their husbands are allowed to leave their homes,” the group wrote on Twitter.

The survey of 675 women also found that 70 per cent of Muslim women believe polygamay is a man’s right. However, only 32 per cent said they would accept it in their own marriage.

In a series of Tweets, Sisters in Islam revealed that 97 per cent of Muslim women in Malaysia identified their primary Islamic responsibility as obedience to God. Almost all (96 per cent) said that obeying their husbands was their responsibility, and 88 per cent said that “marriage means they are under the care of their husbands”.

Many of Malaysia’s Muslim women also feel the pressures of moral policing and public shaming, with 59 per cent saying they are subject to these. Up to 84 per cent also feel they are judged on how they raise their children.

Worryingly, more than half (57 per cent) feel they do not have adequate social support, and 54 per cent feel they have no legal support.

Funded by the European Union, the study titled “Perceptions and Realities: The Public and Personal Rights of Muslim Women in Malaysia” showed that the nation still has a ways to go for Malaysia’s Muslim women to achieve parity at home and in society.

According to South China Morning Post (SCMP), the same survey found that 32 per cent of women also feel they have no right to decide on sexual relations in their marriage.

The majority – 62 per cent – of respondents also said it was not acceptable for wives or mothers to be the home’s breadwinner, SCMP reported.

On Twitter, Sisters in Islam said that the study found that Muslim women think inequality is “part and parcel of their roles as wives”.

“Muslim women feel that they are expected to bear the injustices imposed on them (as they are ‘worldly trials’) and not complain or ask for a change in the status quo,” the group said.

Urging for equality in the family to be recognised under Islamic family law, the group said in a tweet: “Equality for women brings positive effects to all members of society…Recent developments have proven that legal reforms do change not just the situation of women for the better, but also shifts the mindset of Malaysian society about women’s rights.”

Activist and Sister of Islam member Marina Mahathir was quoted by SCMP as saying that there was a “disconnect between what Muslim women expect and what actually happens in real life to them.

Marina, who is also the daughter of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, added that “people have come to think that this is the way things should be”.

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