Saturday, 12 March 2016

Abuse in Marriage and Islam

Abuse in relationships, how much do we really know? What is our understanding of it? For a long time, I used to think that women or men who are subject to abuse in relationships are at fault, as they are the ones staying in a relationship where they are being abused. How naive and ignorant I feel now. Those who experience rape or assault aren't at fault are they? They are victims and no one would blame them would they?

In the same way someone being abused in a relationship is not at fault. I think this is a common misconception in society as my friend was explaining to me how she used to think this too. In society I feel there are so many misconceptions and ignorance around many topics such abuse in relationships. 

It's hard to imagine what it's like if you have never been through abuse yourself, so therefore I can understand (I use these very loosely) why people might think this, but it is important to understand the mindset and thought process of someone being abused before making any assumptions. 

Abuse in relationships is something that is not unknown in Islam. In fact I might say the factors such as religion, culture and society all play a part in abuse. The reason why I say this is because often stereotypes which are socialised from a young age, unknowingly can play a part in the way others interact with eachother. For example in Indian, Bengali etc. culture the man is seen as the provider and is treated like a king, he is served on hand and foot whereas the woman is the housewife attending to his needs and carrying out household duties. From a young age (even me) we are raised as girls to clean and cook, whereas boys are free to go out late and do what they like, girls are told to help and attend to the men's needs. This is reinforced by Religion, however I am not blaming religion for abuse, what I am saying is these roles in religion are misunderstood. 

The reason why I say this is because, although religion does say men are breadwinners and women can stay at home. Women are also able to help out at home if they wish, what is misunderstood is that it is a choice and not an ultimate obligation. This reinforces negative stereotypes which can lead to distorted views of male and female interaction and our understanding of male and female responsibilities. Religion and culture can also affect our understand of the way we should behave such as a man being aggressive equating to masculinity and a women being meek and shy as innocence and femininity.

A woman being shy and meek is valued in religion as virtuous and pious however this does not mean a woman who is loud and confident is immodest and shameful. These things should be understand clearly as well as the fact that women who are shy should not be encouraged to be shy and quiet in the face of abuse.  In religion as these qualities are valued often women may feel that they are practising patience by putting up with abuse but this is not the case as being patient does not mean you need to put up with everything, you deserve to be treated with respect and kindness not abuse! And I know of people who believe that it is 'patience' to put up with abuse( although they've never experienced abuse) but I would not say that is true in my opinion. Let's discuss what is patience? Patience is being understanding and trusting in God when things look bleak. So let's apply that to abuse, when someone is being hurt by another human being are they to trust in God that one day they will stop? Are they to put up with in the hopes that one day they will change? Wouldn't you say that, that is placing the person in a lower position and placing that person as the centre of their lives? Shouldn't their life be about them?? Shouldn't they have confidence and respect for themselves? 

Men are not better than women and women are not better than men. We are told this in religion but then, why do men or even in some cases women distort this for their own desires? We must not conclude that this is a religious view and be clear to separate people using religion to their advantage and what religion is really saying.

 I spoke to someone who has experienced abuse in a relationship in the past. I asked them a few questions please read below.

  What does an abusive relationship mean to you? I think that an abusive relationship is to do with fear. The inability to communicate for fear of the person loving you less or even hurting you. There is a general feeling of fear of this person, they make you feel scared and intimidated, there is a lack of respect from the abuser to the victim of their feelings and thoughts. In my opinion the abuser is more concerned with power and control in the relationship rather than loving you. 

What is your understanding of Islams view of Abuse? 
I think it is largely misunderstood. Although the Quran and Sunnah encourage patience, the actuality of how it is understood amongst the Muslim community is flawed. As well as the fact that Islam discourages divorce, and encourage you to work on your marriage this is misunderstood to mean put up with anything. What I think we forget is that Islam does not say we should treat ourselves badly. It is important to value yourself and have confidence in yourself. 
The mentality instilled in men and the Islamic principles are changed to fit men's desires. I think some scholars are also to blame in this as they can often encourage women to stay in abusive relationships and say it is patience, what I think we should remember is that although we should be patient and try to make a marriage work we should not allow someone to treat us badly, that is not patience that is being treated like a doormat. Abuse in marriage is not okay and won't ever be. 

What are the forms of abuse in your eyes?Mental- where a person can change your mindset and your self perception. Emotional- where someone manipulates your emotions and can make you feel so happy but so depressed so easily. Physical- where should physically abuses you, this includes rape. *there is controversy in the Muslim community about rape in marriage but I believe rape does exist in marriage and it is not okay to force someone in sexual intimacy. I am aware there are hadiths about being cursed if you do not engage in sexual activity with your husband when he wishes, however this does not mean he can force you, if you feel uncomfortable he should be understanding and therefore be okay with it. 

What do you think is the cause of abuse in relationships?
I think it is to do with how we have been socialised. Men (or women)haven't been taught to communicate successfully especially in Asian culture, I think a misunderstanding of religion and the stereotypes reinforced by culture play a part in abuse. I also think it is to do with the abusers childhood and insecurities they have, which makes them want to have power and control over another person to help them feel better or fill those insecurities. 

Do you think certain women are more likely to experience abuse?
Not certain women, any woman can fall into an abusive relationship. There is no specific personality, I am a confident and strong woman yet I have experienced abuse and at the time I found it difficult to leave. But I do think that certain factors can make women to stay in abusive relationships, such as cultural stereotypes. Thinking women should be a certain way and believing it is okay to be abused as it is your fault. A weak bond with God, I think if you don't have a lot of reliance on God it is hard to have the strength to leave a relationship especially if you have children, leaving stability and comfort when you may not have a career or home, or even the thought of so much change can scare you and if you don't have faith that God is with you and will help you, it may mean you don't leave. (In some cases women or men may think they are wrong to leave anyway, and God wouldn't help them). Another thing I think can make someone stay in abusive relationship is, if someone is insecure in themselves, when someone is insecure and they are receiving 'love' from the abuser even if it's once, the person may think that there is hope and they will latch on to that hope even if they are being abused. Seeing the good in someone I suppose. 

I have kept the person anonymous as they have asked me to do so. I am aware this is a very sensitive topic and I know everyone has different views on it, but I do not think abuse is acceptable ever. And no one should put up with it. I don't know if I have done a good enough job on the concerns about abuse in marriage regarding Islam, but I hope I have. If anyone is being abused it is important to remember that you deserve kindness and respect. You do not deserve abuse and you are not at fault. You are a good person, and you should feel confident in yourself, because you are beautiful. There some helplines for domestic abuse which I have posted below: 

0808 2000 247 - national domestic violence helpline

This is for UK but I am sure there are sites and helplines for whichever country you are living in. If you do not want it to appear in your history there is private browsing available. For the national helpline I have posted, the number does not show up on phone bills for most networks but you may have to check with your provider as far as I know calls made on BT, o2, Virgin and 3 will not show up. 

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Lying awake at night


Today I was talking to my friend, she's a student nurse, and I often ask for her help and advice on nursing as she is a first year student. Just the other day she was at her placement where she had to shroud a patient and comfort them in their last moments. 

Just thinking about it, made me slightly paralysed. Being in the presence of death must have been so overwhelming, not only that but comforting someone in that position. I admire her a lot for being able to do that, and I hope one day I can do it for someone. It's definitely a life changing experience, but so amazing. How amazing is it to be the last words a person hears before they leave this world? It's hard, undoubtedly. But helping someone like that is so truly amazing. 

I've asked her to write a post about it and she has agreed so something very insightful to watch out for! 


Tuesday, 8 March 2016

I believe in you

This image is from Rocky Balbao's speech. It's so inspirational and motivates you to pick yourself up from life's struggles. I think it makes you realise that your struggle may be different to others, but nonetheless everyone has struggled and in that sense we are the same, in a society where we have so much that makes us different it is important to realise we all have to struggle to get far. Often we think struggle means weakness, and that once you get hit that's it. But it's not about the struggle it's about how you react, how you deal with it, and no one is going to be there to tell you did well. You need to tell yourself you did well, you did well for getting into college. You did well for facing your fears. It's about self acceptance not society's acceptance, that's when you'll realise your own success. Self assertion is key in your own success and feeling confident in yourself. I always advocate being strong and making yourself proud. Meeting expectations for yourself and no one else. 

 I didn't realise this for a long time. For a long time I wanted others to think I am successful. And I never felt happy with myself. I always felt inadequate. Raising expectations for others might help you sometimes but it is not sustainable because ultimately you're not trying to make yourself happy, after all who's opinion matters more, your own, or society's? 

(This is not to be taken to an extremity , self appreciation is so important but not above God) 

Friday, 4 March 2016

My Kdrama Addiction

Well I just watched another Kdrama and it gave me some perspective on life. When I was in my second year of college I was introduced to Kdramas- my first one was Boys Over Flowers, for all you Kdrama addicts you'd know what I'm talking about. Unbelievably cheesy and over the top yet I loved it, I was totally addicted staying up till the depths of the night watching it. And I know from my friends I'm not the only one who did this. So as the story goes, I got used to Romantic comedy Kdrama clichés but I loved it all the same. I'll outline the reasons why I liked Kdramas so much:

1) It was so cheesy and unrealistic it was almost an alternate universe to my own 
2) it was a different culture one which I knew nothing about but began to as I watched more
3) it was a bonding activity (I could talk about it with my friends)
4) it is so dramatic and over the top piling on cliché(love triangle, heir falling for poor know the drill) on cliché, as well as melodrama in everything. As you know I love emotions I believe them to be like Art so naturally I was interested in this. And I'm a hopeless romantic.

I'd say the same reasons apply even now but added to it is the fact that I'm not very busy right now. Idleness is never good is it? 

Well up until I got dissatisfied with the dramas, there nothing 'new' I suppose it's like the new feeling of clothes. It wore off, so I stopped for a while. But then I found some dramas that had interesting story lines : revenge, betrayal and so on. And so my addiction began again. But what I found is although these dramas were exciting and fast paced I found them to be kind of 'eh' at the end. Maybe because it ended? And also the endings weren't always great. But whether it was a sad or happy ending even if it had a great ending, once it's ended you realise it's just a drama. Nothing more to it. So I realised its pretty pointless, and I hate addictions, I hate anything that has control over me. So I decided to stop with dramas, because I believe Kdramas to be harmful not only for the addiction but other reasons which I will state below:

1) although it was nice learning about a new culture, Korean Culture isn't as progressed as our 'societies' what I mean by that is they still hold (not all!) racist views, in the sense that they look down on other races, and I can vouch for this as I have watched a drama that was blatantly racist (I didn't watch that drama anymore out of principle, it wasn't even good anyway!) and I have watched videos of teachers (not native ) teaching English in Korea who have said they (students )still hold very discriminatory views. I understand not everyone is going to hold the same views that's fair enough, but atleast refrain from displaying it in the dramas??

Obviously not every Korean is racist, it's just the Korean Culture values fair skin among other things which not every culture or society has (like money). Don't get me wrong even my culture is racist, (Bengali culture) the older generation still have backwards views which I totally don't agree with, but because they've been raised like that I suppose they don't see anything wrong with it. Anyway the reason I think its bad for sisters is because, for those sisters (who are like me)who are easily impressionable and influenced. May easily be influenced by Koreans standards of beauty. Now I'm not really fair, I'm a standard yellow (ha!) Asian, similar to a warm beige.. (Make up enthusiasts out there?)

So I'm not super fair, but I've always liked my skin tone. But when I started watching Korean Dramas, learning about their food, their culture, learning bits and bobs of their language, I felt like I wasn't good enough. That might be strange I mean it's not like I was marrying a Korean guy right? But I was thinking what if I did want to? What then? Then I thought what if I wanted to visit Korea, would people treat me differently?   I couldn't help but think I'm probably considered to be ugly in Korean culture. Probably not good enough.

But as time went on, I decided I don't want to be insecure, I don't want to worry about others views! I should be happy and comfortable in myself no matter how I look or what others think. 

2) it wastes time, it's addictive. How many hours I've spent watching dramas when I could've been with my mum. How many hours I've spent glued to my phone when my little sister wanted to hang out. 

I regret that, but not everyone watches dramas religiously. Some may watch it here and there, I wouldn't worry about that. I'd say this applies only if you're spending hours and hours.

3) at the end of the day it's a drama. Not reality, don't make the mistake I made. Trying to live my life through dramas (although my situation is different I went through periods of depression so I didn't know what else to do) it's only sad when you wake up to reality and you become more dissatisfied with life. I would definitely encourage something that you can do in your actual life. Whether it's religiously learning about a topic or learning a language, it's good to have a hobby! However use time wisely and be smart. Do not keep yourself cooped up. Spend time with family and relax. I used to my obsessed with witches in my second year of college. I used to read books about witches, watch movies etc. but it didn't take over my life. Id just dress like a witch and that was it, it was something quirky and fun. Try something like that out. If you feel life is a bit boring or uninteresting. 

I've now decided I'm going to spend my time reading all the books I got from the library. That is better for me. Not only to educate myself but to help me be who I used to be before all these dramas. (And the Kdramas!) 

I feel sorry for all the time I've wasted.
And I feel like I've come to an understanding of  Kdramas. I don't feel any need to watch them and I don't feel they are important in my life (yes pathetically I did feel the need before). But I'm not resentful to Kdramas (if that's possible) I can nod my head when I see them around and even smile. I know what we had was special at the time and I acknowledge they helped me, but I've come to a better place now, where they don't fit in. 

(This was all thanks to Bad Guy, which was very disappointing and weird towards the end, which made me rethink my love for dramas! I think I realised, dramas create emotion through scenes and actors, they are not real ((which was the reason I watched it, I loved the melo drama the way it made me feel (((hopeless romantic here))) about love and betrayal) it seems obvious but I really believed in it, but I realised when skipping scenes (waiting for the ending) I was cutting off emotion and the effect it had on me, which left the drama powerless in my eyes. Also I'd like to add that even before this particular epiphany, the illusion and naivety I had of Kdramas when I first started had long worn off, I saw many flaws and clichés looking back at previous dramas, I realised it wasn't that great long before ((maybe I was trying to hold onto it)), which my friends agreed with after looking back at Heirs, thus my perception of Kdramas had already been destroyed little by little, this was probably the last little chip that needed to be hacked off!)