November 1, 2002
I am not Muslim, but I do read the questions and answers at the website. I have a question. How come you don't tell women who get beaten by their husbands to call 911 (police emergency line)? The laws are so much better than they ever were before. A woman doesn't even have to be the one to press charges. Which they don't do in a lot of cases because they are scared. With our new laws, the police take right over and arrest the man.
Also, why do you keep telling abused women to go to a Muslim community for help? There are domestic violence shelters all over the country. They will let the women and children live there without the husband ever knowing where they are. On the other hand, if it is handled by the Muslim community, since everyone knows everyone in a Muslim community, things will get back to the husband. I think you should change your advice before one of these women gets killed. Call 911, get a restraining order so the husband isn't allowed to return to the home, then call Domestic Violence.
I appreciate your response to this column. I do however, answer questions from an Islamic perspective and feel that our co-religionists should be the first we turn to in a time of need. Islam is a total way of life and has standards by which Muslims lead their lives. The religious standards are very much against husbands physically abusing their wives and in many instances the Muslim community, perhaps contrary to popular opinion, provides protection for these women. There are also shelters established by the Muslim community for such women. I have advised women if no other options are available to them to contact the local authorities and any shelters if need be.
Nothing is a guaranteed solution! Much depends on the individual circumstances and I encourage women to use caution in whatever means they choose for escaping such terrible conditions. A "restraining order" is not necessarily a solution. Some men who have such issues have no problem in disregarding a piece of paper. I'm sure you're aware of cases where women have been harmed, sometime fatally, despite a restraining order. In some instances the situation involves individuals of foreign cultures who may not be inclined to call police into personal affairs. It would be like adding shame to shame and giving a bad impression to someone who may not understand the religion. But going to the Muslim community would be a more realistic solution for them. The most important realization is for women to know that domestic violence is not acceptable and for no reason should they put up with it . Once a woman realizes this, she will probably find the best way for her to leave.
Many in the Muslim community recognize the seriousness of this problem, and are making great efforts to find solutions (for example, see the article Twelve Tips for Imams in the West for Dealing with Domestic Violence). Dear reader, we may disagree on the means, but I think we can agree on the intended result, namely an end to domestic violence.