Sexual Rights, Human Rights

As part of the “One Day, One Struggle” 2010 campaign to promote sexual and bodily rights in Muslim societies, Lebanon-based groups Nasawiya, Helem and Meem developed this video campaign, focusing on bodily autonomy and sexual rights of individuals.

On November 9, 2010, the 2nd international “One Day One Struggle” Campaign called for public attention to issues like Right to Information, Sexuality Education, Sexual Health, Bodily Autonomy and Sexual Rights of Individuals, LGBTTQ Rights, Sexual Diversity and Islam, Sexuality and Shari’a as well as the struggle to stop sexual rights violations ranging from Polygamy to killings of women, gay people and transsexuals. The campaign took place in 12 countries across the Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia. Almost 50 participating human rights organizations, universities and municipalities will participated.

Launched by the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR), “One Day One Struggle” is a unique effort to underscore the joint struggle against the violation of sexual and bodily rights in Muslim societies. Nasawiya, Meem and Helem are part of CSBR.

Some Muslims take offense at campaigns like this because they feel that a person’s sexuality, while a private matter, should be regulated by Islamic rules and regulation and the morés of Muslim society. However, sexuality is often used as a tool for political oppression and human rights violations. This is especially true among militaristic, conservative Muslims who politicize Islam as justification for their attempts to control society, chiefly through their control of women.

I’m not arguing that Muslims should be free to do whatever they want with their bodies. But their obedience in these matters should be to Allah and not to civil or religious authorities.  Judgment and punishment is Allah’s to dispense. We have no business punishing individuals, especially all out of proportion to the act itself,  like execution for adultery.

A society that punishes its women for wanting to come and go as they please or to socialize with whom they please is a society that doesn’t trust Allah’s ability to guide those who believe in Him. Sure, people will make mistakes, but the only time that sexual actions should be punished by man is when they are perpetrated willfully against the innocent (such as rape or child abuse).

And I especially do not agree with judging women more strictly than men for the same actions. For example, women are told that they have to be modest so they won’t tempt men. Why isn’t as much emphasis put on men to control their thoughts and actions (as well as to be modest also)?

One reason I’m a feminist and a Muslim is because I believe that men and women are equal before God. They should share the same burden to be chaste and to fulfill the obligations that are put upon them by Allah. I don’t buy the idea that women are the source of all evil and therefore have to be controlled by men “for their own good.” Men and women are to help each other to be virtuous.

Education and example are the keys, not punishment and control.

Read more about the “One Day One Struggle” campaign here.

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Ellen

Editor and chief writer at I, Muslimah and Femagination. Ellen also contributes regularly to Elevate Difference. She is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with two cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.