Religion and the Status of Women
44 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2012 Last revised: 26 Mar 2013
Date Written: October 2, 2012
This paper explores practices designed to humiliate, denigrate, and subjugate female members in religious extremist paradigms; we focus on Islamic extremism and ultra-Orthodox Judaism. Initially, we highlight religious-based practices including honor killings, female genital mutilation, extreme modesty regulations, disparity in education, and strict segregation that place women in direct harm — some resulting in death. People of extreme faith justify harmful practices through a narrow and absolute interpretation of scripture that leaves little room for critical reflection or evolving modern views. When state agents fail to proactively prevent, much less punish religious extremist actors who deliberately harm women — in the name of faith — the state’s tacit support emboldens extremists. While we examine recent court cases where nation states grapple with the tension created by women’s inferior status in religion we note the paucity of consistent efforts to protect women in the face of religious extremism. We argue that under no circumstances does religion justify harming women; therefore nation states must proactively limit religious extremists who incite harm directed at women, and punish those responsible for mutilating, injuring, and humiliating women.
Keywords: gender discrimination, honor killings, female genital mutilation, religious extremism
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