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Siti Zailah Yusoff, the Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development in Malaysia who belongs to the most advanced Islamic country, in addition to Turkey, made controversial statements, a few days ago, as if she was deciding to implement the popular saying: ‘Women are the enemy of themselves’. She angered the citizens of her country with her statements in which she suggested husbands had a right to use a ‘gentle but firm physical touch on their undisciplined and stubborn wives’, claiming that this was in order to discipline them for unruly behavior and deter them from the husband’s provocative behavior.
She did not offer an explanation of what she means by the word “gently’, so will she issue a table showing degrees of gentleness, according to the husband’s weight, the size of his palm, and the strength of his muscles, compared to the wife’s size and age, for example?
Siti Zailah said that a husband has the right to hit his wife if she engaged in untoward behavior even after being told not to do so, and after the husband showed his displeasure by sleeping on a different couch.
If the wife remains undisciplined, then he can engage in physical touch that is gentle to show firmness,” said Siti Zailah.
The deputy minister, who belongs to the Malaysian Islamic Party, also urged women to talk to their husbands only when they give them permission, in order to win them over.
She said: “Speak to your husbands when they calm down and finish eating, pray and become comfortable, and when you want to talk to them, you must ask permission first.”
I am not against the statements of this Malaysian official, which will find good echo to a considerable segment of our backward society, and this does not mean that I agree with her, but I give her an excuse, as she is the daughter of her environment and what she learned in her country’s schools, day after day.
Instead of fierce criticism and demanding her resignation or dismissal, we have to search for the source from which the minister got the “culture of wife-beating,” and strive hard, not slack to modify the curricula and the language of religious discourse.
If this is the opinion of the enlightened Malaysian woman about her female sister, what is left for the Kuwaiti, Egyptian, Pakistani or Afghan women?
In a television interview attended by a group of young people, preacher Muhammad Al-Arifi said that a man’s structure is stronger than a woman’s, so a man may discipline a woman, i.e. his wife, by beating, and she disciplines him with tears, so he gets what he wants from her and she gets what she wants with tears and emotion.
And if we hit a beast, we mean to hurt it so that it obeys us, for the animal does not understand good words, and can only understand by beating, and the donkey does not understand except by beating.
By Ahmad alsarraf