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Women Who Get Raped Go Straight To Hell

I’ve been thinking a lot about the issue of Islam and Women’s Clothing since my post on the topic last week. The idea that so many women have so little control over their lives is one that I find very difficult and completely helpless to do anything about except try and make some of the issues more widely known. For example, I’ve written about cases that have come to light via various human rights groups where women have been punished by Sharia courts in Saudi Arabia after they have been raped because they were out without a man when the attack occurred. The rapist, on the other hand, was often not punished.

Then this morning a very disturbing video appeared in my Facebook feed via friend William Hounslow. Another friend posted it soon after:

(Disclaimer: The group who put out this clip, Freedom’s Final Stand – Standing Against the March of Liberalism, appears to be one of those that uses the reality of these situations in Islam to create a climate of fear and hatred towards Muslims, so I just want to make it clear that I don’t endorse the group in any way. Also, although it’s not up to me to speak for others, I feel sure my friends would find the values of this group equally repugnant.)

The clip being shown on Facebook is part of a larger video called Bangladeshi Gang Rape produced by Vice News in  November 2014, and it is worth watching the whole report.

The views expressed by imam Mohammed Shahidul Isham in the clip are typical of conservative religion. As well as what he says in the Facebook clip, the extended video shows he also says that women should stay at home. Just leaving the house is enough to tempt men to rape apparently, and if it happens, it’s the woman’s fault. It’s not just the imam that’s the problem though. The reporter, Tania Rashid, showed that the attitudes he displays and presumably teaches in his mosque are pervasive throughout society. The police show the same appalling attitudes as the imam, and in many ways that’s worse. Women who are attacked have no one to go to and no hope that they can ever feel safe.

The words Imam Mohammed Shahidul Isham is quoting (inaccurately) in his interview with Rashid about women staying indoors are based on these:

via MuslimMatters.org
In Surah Al-Ahzab, Allah addresses the wives of Prophet Muhammad [صَلى اللهُ عَليهِ وَ سَلم] with specific commands to guard their chastity:

“And abide quietly in your homes, and do not flaunt your charms as they used to flaunt them in the old days of pagan ignorance; and be constant in prayer, and render the purifying dues, and pay heed unto Allah and His Messenger: for Allah only wants to remove from you all that might be loathsome, O you members of the [Prophet’s] household, and to purify you to utmost purity.” [33:33]

The imam it seems has taken a leaf out of St Jerome’s book (see here) and is using his authority to spread an interpretation of the rules that is even harder on women and more favourable to men’s authority than the Qur’an already is.

As Rashid pointed out, all the men “rationalized why rape happened” and “shifted the blame onto the women themselves.” The situation was being “trivialized” while the men “maintained the image of a pure, God-fearing society.”

Rape causesThe graph on the right is one you’ve probably all seen before, but it’s a message that many still have not grasped. The idea that somehow a rape victim (male or female) is at fault needs to be stamped out. Blaming the victim creates an excuse for the perpetrator and the ability to fail to take responsibility for one’s own actions.

Conservative religion portrays an ideal where men have been granted not only the right, but the strength to take control. However, when it comes to sexual abuse they are apparently so weak that the slightest temptation can cause them to lose control.

In my post about Islam and Women’s Clothing I referred to the discussion at Islam.org around the need for rules of modesty for both men and women. What I didn’t go into was the extent to which those rules focus on sex. Here are some examples from their website:

Rules for Men
99 – Rule: It is haram [forbidden] to take off one’s clothes in the presence of other men or one’s Maharim [women with whom it would be considered incestuous to have a sexual relationship] with the intention of sexually arousing others. One’s spouse is an exception.

102 – Rule: According to Ihtiyat Mustahab [recommended precaution], men must cover other parts of the body that are normally covered by men, while in the presence of non-Mahram women, especially if the man knows that the non-Mahram women may look at them with the intention of lust.

107 – Rule: Men must cover their private parts from a child who is Mumayyiz [a child old enough to know right from wrong and able to tell the difference between men and women], whether it is a boy or a girl, Mahram or a non-Mahram.

Therefore: Men must cover their private parts in front of their Mumayyiz children in the showers and other places.

According to Ihtiyat Wajib [obligatory precaution], a man must cover his body from girls who have not yet completed 9 years of age, but who understand good and bad, even if there is no intention of sexual pleasure.

Responsible gazeRules for Women
108 – Rule: It is wajib [obligatory] for women to cover their entire body from non-Mahram Men; with the exception of their face and hands, as long as the following conditions are met:

Their face and hands must not have any kind of beautification (zinat) on them.

One will not look at their face or hands with the intention of lust.

113 – Question: Is it allowed to wear a mantou and pants in which the shape of the body is visible, in the presence of non-Mahram men?

Answer: From the point of hijab and covering, it is sufficient, but in the event that showing the shape of the body would lead to lust or corruption, then it must be covered.

121 – Question: What is the ruling for wearing flashy, repelling-coloured clothing, and clothing that draws the attention of others, in places where non-Mahram men are present, such as universities, stores, etc.

Answer: With the assumption that the clothing is arousing, it is haram.

And it looks like foot-fetishism was a thing in Mohammed’s time too:

Why Hojab118 – Question: Is it allowed to wear thick socks in which the shape of the foot is visible in front of non-Mahram men, or not?

Answer: In the event that there is no corruption related to it, and the skin of the feet does not show, then it is not a problem.

Answer: If it leads to corruption and sin, then it is not permitted.

Answer: In addition to this, the socks must not be of the type that would be considered as a zinat [beautification].

119 – Rule: Wearing of thin, see-thru socks in which the skin of the feet is visible is not considered as covering, and therefore, women must refrain from wearing these kinds of socks in the presence of non-Mahram men.

120 – Question: There are some women who wear pants, and then pull their socks over top of the pants in such a way that the shape of the bottom of their legs show – what is the ruling for wearing socks in this manner?

Answer: In the event that it leads others to excitement or pleasure, then it is not allowed.

These are many more rules than those above, and the idea that women are responsible if they receive unwelcome sexual attention is pervasive. Check out this as another example:

… according to the fatawa of the late Ayatullah Khomeini, if keeping the face and hands open leads the young man to look at her with the intention of lust, then she must cover her face and hands and if speaking to him leads him to falling into corruption, then she must also keep away from this.

So anyone who thinks wearing a chador is a minor inconvenience, think again. There are even rules about reaching for things on high shelves – you have to made sure your sleeve doesn’t fall down and expose your arm!

Lower your gazeThis, and all the other rules, put almost all the responsibility for non-consensual sexual interaction on women. They are required to dress in such a way as to not attract a man’s attention. If they do and things go badly for them, that’s their fault. And it’s not just their clothing – they are also required to guard their gaze. They must keep their eyes lowered. Just looking a man in the eye is enough to give him the excuse to force himself on her.

All this goes back, of course, to the idea that women are the possessions of men. The reason we are required to cover ourselves is because our bodies do not belong to us but to a father, husband, brother, or son. Our bodies are a tool for the enjoyment of men, to look after them, and to bear their children.

Conservative Islam teaches that women will be safe from abuse if they follow the rules relating to dress. The problem is, it’s not true. If children are brought up to treat one another with dignity and respect, taught values like compassion and kindness, and are given a sense of self-esteem, it is highly unlikely they will turn into rapists. On the other hand, a child who is taught that girls and women are possessions, are of lesser value than men, and that if they fail to dress in a certain way deserve some form of punishment, then a different result can be expected.

Further because of the attitude towards women in many conservative religious countries, it is impossible to even know the extent of the problem. Even in countries like New Zealand and Norway which are considered amongst the best in the world for women, many still don’t report sexual assaults because of the stigma attached. In countries like Bangladesh, they’re rarely reported at all. From Wikipedia:

Bangladesh
Bangladesh has received criticism for its employment of the “two-finger test” in rape investigations. This test consists in a physical examination of women who report rape during which a doctor inserts two fingers in the woman’s vagina to determine whether the woman is “habituated to sex”. … This deters many women from reporting rape. More than 100 experts, including doctors, lawyers, police, and women’s rights activists had signed a joint statement in 2013 asking for the test … to be abolished, as it “does not provide any evidence that is relevant to proving the offence.”

The United Nations Multi-country Study on Men and Violence asked men in rural and urban Bangladesh if they had forced a woman to have sex at any point in their lives. 14.1% of men in rural Bangladesh and 9.5% of men in urban Bangladesh said yes (10% averaged). 2.7% of men in rural Bangladesh and 0.5% (6/1252) in urban Bangladesh had raped in the past year. In rural Bangladesh 47.4% of rapists perpetrated more than once, 3.7% had four or more victims, and 40% first raped as a teenager. 82% of rural Bangladeshi and 79% of urban Bangladeshi men cited entitlement as their reason for rape. 61.2% of urban Bangladeshi men who had raped did not feel guilty or worried afterwards, and 95.1% experienced no legal consequences. 3.7% of men in rural Bangladesh had raped another man. 89.2% of urban Bangladeshi men answered ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ to the statement ‘if a woman doesn’t physically fight back, it’s not rape.’

 

A word Rashid used in her report for Vice News was “vulnerable.” It’s so true. They are completely powerless and have no ability to control their own lives, to make the simplest of choices. This is the life of most of the women of Bangladesh and millions elsewhere in conservative religious countries. This is not a situation that can be banned of Western colonialism. In fact, a bit of that might even help.

As Rashid said to end her report, “Until there is a cultural change, shifting a responsibility on the perpetrator, there will be no justice for rape victims.”


Update 21 May 2016: Jerry Coyne on his website Why Evolution Is True has also written a post about this video. It’s called: Imam: Women must cover themselves to stifle men’s uncontrollable lust and I thoroughly recommend it.

24 Responses to “Women Who Get Raped Go Straight To Hell”

  1. Yakaru says:

    Excellent and extremely unpleasant post, Heather.

    Western colonialism managed to stop Hindus burning widows. At least that was one thing it got right.

    Averroes, the great Muslim philosopher who influenced Aquinas (to incorporate reason into theology), held women for equal to men and decried the waste of the talents and productivity of half the population. That was in Andalusia in the 1200s. If he could see back then, there is no excuse for this kind of ignorance today. (It was Morrocco, if I remember correctly, where he served his exile.)

    In 1650, Descartes theorized that perception takes place within the brain, rather than being triggered by qualities inherent in matter itself. This was of course borne out by subsequent science. Yet religious people (as well as people whose stupidity is not directly religious in origin) still think that perception of women is still determined by inherent qualities rather than in the visual cortex of the beholder. I think those of us who have freed ourselves from this pre-1650 dogma are justified in opposing, ridiculing and attacking in any (non-violent) way possible such infantilism.

    It should be seen like toilet training. If you’ve failed to master it you need to take steps to protect others from yourself before you should be allowed out in public.

    • Perhaps a male version of the chastity belt? Or one of those screwed up cilice things conservative Catholics wear around the thigh, but around another part of their anatomy might do the trick?

      I remember many years ago (at least 40) a policy suggestion was made in the parliament of India that a curfew be established for women because of the problem of rape. A female MP suggested that as it was men carrying out the rapes, they should be the ones under curfew. As a result, the policy never went anywhere.

      • Graham Martin-Royle says:

        It’s the men that do the raping, the men that cannot control theirselves, it’s the men that have the problems. So why is it that it’s the women who have to take the actions (covering themselves up, never going out etc)? If the men have a problem, it’s up to them to deal with it, not women.

  2. Randall Schenck says:

    Excellent report and a very brave reporter, Tania Rashid. If anyone wonders why a country like Bangladeshi never progresses out of the dark ages, just watch some of this. Listening to the cop attempt to answer the reporters questions is just like listening to the Imam.

    • I found that cop worse than the imam in a lot of ways. It may just have been the way he expressed himself, or the different way people speak in Bengali, but he seemed to be talking in the first person a lot, giving me the impression he was a rapist. He was also in complete denial there was even a problem.

      • nicky says:

        Yes, I got the same impression. And even if not, he’s at least clearly a post factum accomplice.

        However, I do think the imam was worse; he’s an *imam*, people look up to him, get ‘moral guidance’ from him. If not a rapist like we suspect the cop- we don’t know- , he is definitely promoting rape.

  3. nicky says:

    Something struck me in the video -only very obliquely related to rape-, as despicable Islam is, there is something else playing a role too: the suffocating control of village life.
    I wonder how much of ‘women’s liberation’ is due to the move to the cities, throughout history and world-wide. Rural women might fear the City, but it definitely has it’s attractions: a modicum of control over one’s own life and choices (yes, I know I’m generalising, but still)

    • I agree – there often is more freedom in cities. In villages, everyone knows what’s going on in everyone else’s live. In many ways the closer way of living is required to make the village work. If you need to escape, there’s usually somewhere to go in the city but that’s rare in a rural area.

  4. paxton marshall says:

    This is a powerful and well-done video. The segment with the raped woman was heart-breaking. But there is no evidence provided in this film that rape is more prevalent in Bangladesh, or any Islamic society than elsewhere. The police commander was a creep, but you could find such oafs in any American big city police department. Certainly we have policemen who have used their position to rape women. The rape occurred in a very poor region with only 50 police serving a million people spread out over a large area. It is not surprising that few are caught. Still one of the three men who raped the woman interviewed had been arrested. Everyone, including the rapists acknowledged that rape was wrong, and they were clearly afraid of being apprehended for their crime.

    Although the film juxtaposed an interview with an Imam with the interviews of the rapists and rape victim, there was nothing in the testimony of either that the rapes were in any way related to religion. There are plenty of people in the US who say women invite rape by wearing scanty clothes or walking alone or going places they shouldn’t. It’s worth note that none of the women in the film were wearing a veil or full body covering and the head scarves of most women did not completely cover their hair.

    As usual some perspective is in order. Heather, you included a quote from Wikipedia on rape in Bangladesh from the United Nations Multi-country Study on Men and Violence. The full report shows, that of all the countries studied, Bangladesh had the lowest incidence of men confessing to rape of any country studied. The figures were Bangladesh 10%, Sri Lanka 15%, Cambodia 20%, China 22%, Indonesia 23%, Indonesia-Papua 49%, Papua New Guinea 62% (numbers rounded). Of these only Bangladesh and Indonesia are predominately Muslim. Sri Lanka and Cambodia are predominately Buddhist, and Papua New Guinea and the Indonesian province of Papua are largely Christian.

    Also, although statistics on rape are widely underreported, and their validity may vary widely from country, the Wikipedia entry cited in the post did provide some. Examples in rapes per 100,000 population: South Africa 140, New Zealand 25, USA 30, Sweden 60, Bangladesh 8.

    Of all the Islamic regulations you have quoted, including from the Quran, associating them with a culture of rape, not one has justified rape. On the other hand there are a number of ¬¬¬passages in the Bible that condone rape: “Now kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man. Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves.”¬

    So Heather, while I applaud your putting a spotlight on the horrible and world-wide tragedy of rape, the data suggest that you are mistaken in linking the incidence of rape to religion or to Islam in particular.

    One of the biggest pitfalls of this “medium is the message” age is that often images trump data. A heart-rending story or especially video¬¬, no matter how isolated the incident, conveys an impression that is often not justified by the facts. Take a compelling rape story, combine it with an interview with an Imam, and some Islamic quotes about dress and sexual desire, and you have vivid illustration of the evils of Islam. Never mind that there is no evidence linking either the particular rape or rape in general with Islam. I accept your assurance that you don’t intend “to create a climate of fear and hatred towards Muslims,” but you can be sure that that is exactly the intention of freedomsfinalstand.com, which posted the clip of the Imam. Freedom’s final stand! Reminiscent of Sam Harris’ “Sleepwalking toward Armageddon”, isn’t it?

    • Official rape statistics cannot be taken as anything but a measure of the confidence women have in officials. NZ has a big problem with family violence and there have been campaigns to tackle it for years. The fact that the reporting of it is increasing is one of the signs of the success of the campaign.

      There is lots I agree with in what you say, but I have a major problem with you directing the comments at me in particular rather than as a general comment. Once again because I don’t mention every particular issue, every country, every religion, throughout history, I have failed in your opinion. This post was about a clip that a right-wing has posted on Facebook and has hundreds of thousands of views. I exposed there was a lot more to that clip than they showed. They were clearly focusing on Islam (they only showed the imam) – I wrote about some of the broader issues and showed the full report the clip came from. I’ve been blogging for less than two years, so there’s not a lot of my public record to go on, but I have criticized other countries and other religions in the past and I will do in the future. Once again, it’s not up to you to tell me what to write about. You know how to contact me by e-mail, and you know I’m open to guest posts, so if you want to write one, make the suggestion.

      Oftentimes in this and other posts I refer to “conservative religion” rather than the particular religion I happen to be writing about. However, whether you like it or not, there is a problem with the way Islam treats women and I’m not going to ignore it because of the way others might use my work. The truth is important. The extraordinary claims of groups like freedomsfinalstand.com, like all the other bigotry in the US, will fall by the wayside and women will still be being abused by Islam. I’m not prepared to say to them that I didn’t think they were important enough to speak about in the meantime.

      • Plingar says:

        Why does Paxton Marshell go after you personally? This seems to happen with monotonous regularity.

        • It’s up to Paxton to answer that, but I think he really does think he’s doing the right thing. He’s concerned, as we all should be, about the rise of Muslimophobia. He believes that any criticism of Islam gives material for anti-Muslim bigots to use.

          I don’t accept that I should censor myself because of what another person might or might not think, and I think all ideas should be up for criticism. In this post, for example, I’m criticizing Islam, not Muslims. However, Paxton has a right to his opinion and to express it, just as any of us have the right to disagree with him. As long as he (or anyone) doesn’t become abusive or nasty towards anyone else, they’re free to comment here.

          • paxton marshall says:

            Thank you, Heather. I did not mean to attack you personally. I meant to question the thesis of your post, that tied Islam to rape, by providing some contrary evidence. I know there is no good answer to the problem of rape. The urge to have sexual intercourse is our deepest ingrained instinct, next to that for survival. There seems to be a certain portion of men who will take advantage of women for sex if the opportunity is available. Laws and social norms (or religious rules) will only constrain a certain number of them in certain situations. It’s a problem everywhere and I just don’t see it so driven by religion as your title implies. I refer to you personally in my comments, because I am replying to your post, and because I regard you as a friend and a worthy adversary. Perhaps your post, combined with my reply, (minus any personal references) would give the best summary of the situation? Yin and yang?

          • It often seems like you are attacking myself and others here because of the way you express yourself. I’ve come to learn that you don’t mean it personally, but it certainly sounds personal and unless I call you out on it, it’s not going to change.

            My title doesn’t imply that the rape is religiously driven – that title would be something like “Islam Causes Rape” or something equally outrageous. The title is a direct quote from the imam in the film and the title the right-wing group used when they spread the clip.

            The main thing I say about the relation between Islam and bad behaviour (including rape and terrorism etc) is not so much that Islam causes it, but that Islam gives them an excuse for it. That is exactly what the imam in the clip does, and exactly what the rules for women’s dress do. The rules for women’s dress make a point of saying that she is keeping herself safe from attack by covering herself. Therefore, if she is attacked, it’s her fault. This imam and many others reinforce that idea. Further, I’m sure you understand the idea that a man who grows up not respecting women as equals treats them less well than one who has. You’re old enough to remember how women were routinely treated in the West fifty years ago and to have noticed the improvements in that time.

            Your comment could provide a sort of addendum to what I wrote if you’d expressed it differently but it read more like an attack on me, which is what gets people’s backs up.

          • Yakaru says:

            I must correct you on a minor point, Heather — as far as I’ve seen, Paxton uses the term “Islamophobia” rather than the more sensible “Muslimophobia”, as you too generously attribute to him!

            Personally, I have never understood why he has such a chip on his shoulders about this. He is quick to attribute supposed misbehavior of people like Hitchens or Harris to their supposed neo-con ideology — a relatively shallow ideology compared to religion; but then refuses to accept that deeply held beliefs imbibed from birth, reinforced daily through youth and adulthood, and entrenched in cultures for thousands of years can have any effect on people’s behavior at all….unless it’s a “positive” behavior, then it’s immediately ascribed to their religion.

            I can only call it willful ignorance and double, or rather triple standards.

          • I knew Paxton would notice that I’d used Muslimophobia instead of Islamophobia – it was a bit of a dig, and I was making a point by doing that.

            As we’ve both said elsewhere, bad ideas need to be criticized wherever they come from, and religion is no exception. Specifically, Islam is no exception.

  5. paxton marshall says:

    Yakaru, I do use the term Islamophobia, because most of the people I read in this context claim they are criticizing the religion, not the people. I think there are times however, when their rhetoric slips into Muslimophobia, as when they use survey data to show that a large percentage of Muslims agree with some of the more unsavory aspects of Islamic doctrine. I have found the use of the terms to be inconsistent, especially by some who claim there is no such thing as Islamophobia. I refer to people as Islamophobes who consistently attribute bad behavior by Muslims to their religion.

    I “have a chip on my shoulders” about US military interference in the affairs of other countries because of 70 years of experience with US foreign policy. When I was young the US assumed France’s role in a colonial war to suppress an independence struggle in Vietnam. The government fanned fear and loathing of Communism, together with some implicit racism to induce the people to support the war. They fabricated an event (Gulf of Tonkin) to make it appear the other side was the aggressor. The result was over 2 million killed, including 58,000 Americans. And we achieved nothing except to create chaos in the whole region, giving rise to, among other things, the murderous regime of Pol Pot in Cambodia (which we bombed extensively in spite of government lies that we weren’t).

    Did we learn from this fiasco? With the collapse of the Soviet Union we no longer had to project force around the world to resist the inexorable spread of international communism (as we had been told). But the neocons proposed this idea that we are the “indispensable nation”, and that only we could preserve world order by intervening wherever we felt necessary. (I don’t believe Hitchens and Harris were part of the original neocon group, and I don’t think I have ever called them that, though I have claimed that their anti-Islam rhetoric forwarded the neocon agenda.)

    I have still not heard a convincing explanation of why we invaded Iraq, but Bush2 et al thought it was necessary. They capitalized on the fear invoked in the populace by the 9/11 attacks, insinuated that Iraq was involved in that attack, although they knew differently, and fabricated evidence to make Saddam Hussein appear much more dangerous than he was. Although Bush and other leaders claimed that we were not attacking Islam, anti-Islamic rhetoric became more and more fashionable. You know the results: a couple hundred thousand killed in the initial Iraq war, but also a chain of destabling events that still has the region in chaos 13 years after the invasion.

    Anyone who thinks that the same influential sector of American society, war-profiteers, bullies, neocons, that dragged us into Vietnam and Iraq, are not still actively looking for opportunities to deploy the American military, is in deep denial.

    I think you have mischarcterized my thinking at the end of your comment. I am keenly aware of the damage religion has done throughout history, including the role of Christians in the US supporting the military adventures I mentioned above. I accept that religion has an influence, both bad and good on people’s behavior, but I reject simplistic explanations that claim that religion “caused” the Charlie Hebdo attacks, for example. To say that jihadism is due to Islam is as if I bullied someone repeatedly and when they struck back I attributed it to their poor upbringing. And I can’t recall ever in these discussions, attributing positive behavior to religion.

    It’s rather frustrating that when I provide substantial data and arguments to a discussion, as I believe I did in my original comment here, the responses don’t address the evidence but instead my motives. Does Islam promote a rape culture? Heather’s post implied yes. I claimed that the evidence does not support that assertion. I was not attacking Heather, but her argument, or thesis. Now you accuse me of willful ignorance and triple standards without ever addressing the question at hand. Well, I’ve been called a lot of things, including some by you I believe. But I have also found you to be a sincere and thoughtful participant in our conversations, so I try to not let personal pique stand in the way of reasoned discussion.

    • The facts that you relate about the wars the US has been involved don’t mean that I can’t criticize Islam or anything else. Besides, I’m just as entitled to my opinion as yours, and I think that when young men are brought up to see women as lesser creatures, there to serve them, and immoral if not covered, that has an effect on their behaviour towards them. To say otherwise is, imo, deliberately obtuse.

      • paxton marshall says:

        I agree completely that ” when young men are brought up to see women as lesser creatures, there to serve them, and immoral if not covered, that has an effect on their behaviour towards them.” and I don’t think I’ve ever implied otherwise. I’m just saying that such an attitude is by no means unique to Islam. It was nearly universal among human cultures in the past and is still very widespread.

        Once again the United Nations Multi-Country Study
        on Men and Violence in Asia and the Pacific, cited in the OP is informative. The single greatest motivation cited by men who had raped in all countries studied was a sense of sexual entitlement. This was true of Islamic, Buddhist, and Christian countries but highest in atheist/Maoist China.

        When looking deeper into the experiences of men who raped (non-partner), the study identified additional factors (in order of importance): Childhood emotional abuse or neglect, Childhood sexual abuse and sexual victimization, alcohol and drug use, fights, gang involvement, depression, current food insecurity.

        Religion can be a factor in any of these things, but to generalize about the influence of one religion versus another is fraught with difficulties. There is more variation of behavior and social circumstances within any religion than there is between the means of these measures of different religions. To say a perpetrator is a Muslim (or Christian or Buddhist, or atheist) tells us little. Was he brought up rich or poor, abusive parents, first born or not, sexually abused as a child, urban or rural, dominant subgroup or subordinate subgroup? To simply seize on religion as a cause of anything, be it rape, violence, charity, generosity, in-group loyalty, out-group hostility, etc is simplistic in the extreme. In the case of rape, both the UN study and the data cited in the Wikipedia article suggest that to claim that Islam is any more associated with rape than other religions and cultures is simple false. I suggest that the burden is on those who claim Islam is uniquely dangerous, to present evidence for that argument, rather than simply stating it as a premise. Not to do so is to enable those who have ulterior motives for vilifying Islam. But that is the reading of the evidence by someone labelled as deliberately obtuse. I encourage readers to look at the UN report themselves and draw their own conclusions. http://www.partners4prevention.org/sites/default/files/resources/p4p-report-summary.pdf

        • Yakaru says:

          To simply seize on religion as a cause of anything, be it rape, violence, charity, generosity, in-group loyalty, out-group hostility, etc is simplistic in the extreme.”

          It would indeed be simplistic, and I would disagree with anyone who suggested it. I don’t see anyone here saying that though.

          I see no problem, however, in criticizing overt religious doctrine and to assume that those who act both hold the doctrine to be true, and whose behavior clearly reflects this doctrine, then I think it is reasonable to
          a) surmise the doctrine had an influence, and
          b) to open up public debate about the doctrine itself, among other measures.

          I disagree with your assertion that people’s religious beliefs doesn’t affect their behavior.

          • paxton marshall says:

            Yakaru, just as you don’t see anyone saying that religion causes behavior, I don’t see anyone saying that religious beliefs doesn’t affect their behavior. People’s behavior almost always derives from a complex mix of motives and causes (see UN report). But people often choose from religion what justifies their desires and ignore what doesn’t. And within any one religion, people have such a wide variety of environments, experiences and backgrounds, that it clarifies little to identify if they are Islamic, Christian, or Buddhist. (again, see the report).

  6. D.M. Dickson says:

    Religion and Culture: The compound subject of my lifetime of study. Post Christian non-scholars in the West have convinced themselves that these are separate categories, when a hyphenated use of them is more apposite. The fatuous assertion that generalizations about one religion versus another are invalid betrays an unfamiliarity with empirical scholarship. To say the same about cultures is even more glaring nonsense. To invoke psycho-sociological speculation about what are immense differences between cultures deriving from immense differences among their religions’ founders fails to get at the truth. Simply asserting that Islam is no more culturally connected with rape than any other religion proves little beyond the well known fact that Wikipedia is where propagandists go to post and where naive inquiring minds go to be duped. Politeness is very nice up to the point where it requires willful distortion and contra-factual rhetoric yet far short of the stage where its continuance brings on the premature collapse of that tough minded Reality we once designated with such justifiable pride as “Civilization.”

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