Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Something we should all hear....

Today, at my office, we had an hour 1/2 lecture that was given by Dr. Banna Bu Zaboon who is President of the Bahrain Society to Resisit Family Violence. The talk was in Arabic, the slide show was in Arabic, but I had a trusted friend and colleague to translate a lot of it to me. :)

I am so proud of Dr. Bu Zaboon for coming and giving this lecture. I'm really proud of the dept. w/in our office that arranged this lecture... but what surprised me is the lack of involvement by people in the office. We had about 40 people show up out of hundreds and hundreds of employees. This was somewhat surprising but not really. So many people don't want to hear this stuff and close their eyes to abuse... it's a shame really. Especially seeing that it happens a lot here but because of the stigma attached to sharing, opening up, complaining, reporting it... the shame associated w/ it that comes to your family or your spouse's family... many cases go unreported or nothing is ever done to stop it.

Even tho the lecture was in Arabic, I got the pamphlets that were handed out which were in English and Arabic, and was able to get commentary on a lot of the gory details by my trusted friend. There WAS one guy who got into an argument w/ the Dr. saying that he didn't believe what she was saying and that he's worked in the mosques and what she said just wasn't happening because he had never seen it.

This is some of what she was saying to the audience:

The Dr. talked about abuse in families. How women who are being abused go to their mosques for help but the Imams/Sheikhs refuse to help them. She talked about how the women **know** when they walk in to speak w/ the Imam if they're going to get help based on whether or not he has a smile on his face or a frown. These women have been told to go back to their husbands even when they're being abused - severely. The Sheikhs want to see their arms or the places where they've been hit or they want to see a drs. letter stating that they were abused... and even still, they refuse to help these women. Many times the woman is made to go home, build a wall, and stay w/ the husband because, more often than not, the husband refuses to give a divorce. She told story after story about women being beaten by their husbands and how the Sheikhs refuse to sign the divorce papers.

The Sheikhs usually side w/ the male and refuse compensation to the woman if they do get a divorce, many times drs. refuse to write anything about the abuse because the woman is from a well-known family and they don't want to get involved, the police refuse to help because they want the woman to prove that she's been beaten. Even when children come forward and side w/ the woman, they refuse to believe it and send them home to stay w/ the husband.

She talked about how families refuse to get involved and make it almost impossible for the woman to leave. They feel as though it is her place to stay in the marriage.

She talked about women who abuse their husbands, and how there's a woman who is using her daughter against her husband because he wants a divorce. She refused to allow him to see the daughter for three years because he divorced her. She told stories that he was abusing the daughter and that the daughter was afraid of the father, but when they brought the father in w/ the child, the little girl ran to the father, held him and it was obvious that no abuse was happening. This same woman even wanted the Dr. to write a letter stating that the daughter was being abused... all in an attempt to get the husband to come back to her.

She also told a story about a drug user who is severly beating his wife. He refuses to leave and give her a divorce. They went to the mosque, asking for help, and were told to build a wall in the house - the woman on one side, the man on the other - and to live like this. So, she did it. Now, the husband climbs over the wall and abuses her. He put poison on top of the wall and on her side trying to kill her.... but still the Sheikhs/Imams refuse to give them a divorce.

The Dr. told a story about this man who makes BD.2,000.000 a month. His wife wanted money monthly from her husband. Since the man was friends w/ this particular Imam, the Imam refused to give the woman what she was asking for in cash and gave her a drastically reduced amount. When the woman took the bank papers to the Imam and showed him that the man had BD.70,000.000 in his acct., the Imam dismissed it and said that it wasn't real, it was only paper.

Time and time again the Sheikhs aren't helping. They refuse to help these women and they wind up going back to the relationship where they continue to be abused.

It is a sad and vicious cycle. Abuse is something we can not hide from any longer. I'm so glad that the Dr. came today and spoke about this. I only wish it was mandatory for all to listen and go to this lecture, and mandatory to get involved - one way or another. It's only when people start talking about it, admitting that there is a problem, will the problem start to get better.

So... there are many different types of abuse, as we all should know. There's emotional, physical, sexual and even verbal abuse. It's not always a man that's doing it... women are also guilty of it.
Stand up everyone... stand up and be heard. Stop the violence. It's everyone's right to be free and to feel secure.


Alfanan said...

From what I heard, she said that we should go back to the Islamic Sharieea and implement it exactly as it is in today’s society. But, that’s what’s happening already, isn’t it? And it’s obvious that it’s not working. She also said that in order for things to get better, we need to have fresh blood in our judiciary system. The “dinosaurs” that we have in positions now need to be replaced, plain and simple.

tooners said...

And... these Imams/Sheikhs DO NOT need to be the ones making the decisions. First and foremost, their authority and powers should be stripped. Who are these ppl? These matters should be handled in court by judges not religious ppl!!!

Ms Bees Knees said...

hey girl! amazing blog... i found you through your comments you left me on flickr! how very cool that you live in bahrain. are you originally from california???

turbatus.animus said...

Marital abuse is also fairly common in South Asia. In many cases, if a woman complains to her parents/family about the abuse, they tell her to shut up and take it. They are more concerned about their reputation in society. Until we accept that personal freedoms and happiness are more important than "what will people say", the women will have to keep going back for more abuse.
Some years ago there were so many dowry deaths in India that they made a law that if a woman dies of unnatural causes or complains of abuse within the first 7 years of marriage, her husband, father in law and mother in law will be arrested, no questions asked. Ofcourse, in some cases women also took advantage of that and would report false abuse.

TL said...

Hello Tooners - I linked to you via Tabloid Whore because I liked your views regarding the ridiculous show "The View." I saw you had a blog and decided to check it out.

I appreciate your candor in sharing your work story. I belive lectures as such are the first step in shedding light on domestic violence and spousal abuse. Something, anything, that brings these issues to the forefront is extremely valuable. I hope in time many more will listen.


tooners said...

ms bees knees - I LOVE YOUR BLOG!! i'm so addicted to it and found your flickr thru your blog. i love the way you write! yeah, i live in bahrain. my mom and sister live in cali but i came here from texas. thanks for coming by!

turbatus.animus - you know, ppl tell the woman the same here... sometimes it's unspoken and the woman knows w/out a word being said. no support at all. ppl are very concerned w/ their reputations here, that's why many refuse to get involved. divorce is frowned upon. i've heard about india and i think that's a really good thing!

hi tl! thanks for coming by. i love Tabloid Whore! i'm so glad you found me thru that. :) i agree w/ you... i think that lectures should be mandatory in every workplace and that all should get involved w/ stopping the violence. especially here where many a man feels as though he is king and no one can say anything or expect anything out of him. i hope to see you again!