Monday, February 16, 2015

Jais, rape, and the tudung

Early this month, Jais delivered a highly controversial sermon titled: "Aurat: Antara Kebebasan dan Maruah Diri” (Aurat: Between freedom and self dignity).

The gist of the sermon is this:

Muslim women should cover up their "aurat" to prevent “being harassed physically or mentally... so as to prevent false accusations (fitnah),  evil gazes (pandangan yang jahat) and bad incidents from taking place (perkara yang buruk berlaku)... Negative incidents such as rape, illicit sex, and incest (rogol, zina, sumbang mahram) can be avoided.

[ Excerpt from Malaysiakini ]

More of the sermon at this link:

The sermon was deemed insensitive by many, and the tide of anger only worsened when DAP's Penang Exco member Chong Eng was questioned by police over her statement which was deemed critical of the sermon.

Chong however pointed out that she was not stirring the religious cauldron by questioning the practice of "tutup aurat", but merely pointing out the obvious - rape and incest do not correlate to the way a woman, child, toddler, baby is attired. I am including children, because many victims of sexual abuse are children. Way too many for comfort!

An interesting article in the Malaysian Insider reinforces this point. I shall take the liberty of quoting the pertinent excerpts here.

" Prominent rape cases in the past have shown that the victims were not dressed scantily.
One high-profile case in 2000 involved 24-year-old engineer Noor Suzaily Mukhtar. She was raped and killed by the driver of the bus she was on. She was wearing a long skirt and a tudung (headscarf), which the rapist used to strangle her.
Nurul Huda Ghani, 10, was kidnapped, gang raped, sodomised and strangled to death in 2004. Her naked body was found in the guardhouse of a Tenaga Nasional Berhad substation in Kampung Pekajang, in Johor Baru.
 Nurin Jazlin Jazimin, 8, was kidnapped, sodomised and killed in 2007. She was stuffed in a sports bag and left outside a shoplot in Petaling Jaya."
As Malaysians rally to Chong's defence, there's a deafening silence, is she the only prominent politician to speak up? We have more of them don't we......?? Prominent women politicians I mean. Where are the vocal voices of activism? Where are our feminists?

Now I am not writing this post to vent against Jais. After all, negativity breeds more of that wasteful energy which we have little need for in what is already a very highly charged environment, what with everybody's favourite freedom fighter aka "Bapa Reformasi" Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim being hauled back to Sungai Buloh prison and all.

I did some thinking, and I believe there's always room for improvement, whether one is a mere human or part of the patriarchal religious order like Jais. 
For future sermons, for indeed there shall be more, perhaps Jais could turn the spotlight on the perpetrators instead.
Those in the earlier sermon which they referred to as "lelaki yang tidah bermaruah dan bermoral".
Perhaps Jais could educate them on:

1. Controlling their sexual urges.

2. To have respect for women - singles, lesbians, married women, the sisters, mothers and daughters of others. For would they like it if other men viewed women close to them with lust?? Say their mothers for instance?
3. Not to view babies, toddlers and children with lust, starting with their own! For I believe no religious doctrine says you can enjoy the fruit of your creation - your daughters and your sons.
4. Not to view women as their inferiors, some of the greatest scholars of Islam were women, would you call them inferior?? Unfortunately not much has been written of their great scholarly feats. A conspiracy of the patriarchy I believe.
5.To put the fear of God, heaven and the terrors of hell into them. 
6. This  type of "lelaki" are not members of a select club, you can't go looking for them to preach, it is akin to looking for a needle in a haystack, they are evenly spread out and assimilated into society, much to our woe, so it is time for Jais and Jakim to embark on public sermons to educate men not to be sexual demons.
Now this brings us to the question of why no one thought of sermons attacking the conduct of sex maniacs. The problem lies in the fact that despite this being the 21st century, religion, be it Islam or the other major world religions, are still dominated by the patriarchy. 
Just like we need women in politics and the corporate world to shatter the glass ceiling for the rest of us, this quest for equality is sorely lacking in the religious domain.
So despite this modern progressive century that we live in, we are still being told to cover up, behave, accede to male authority - from father to husband, breed to perpetuate the cycle of human creation, to be moral to the extent of suppressing individuality, and because the patriarchy serve as the authors of religious materials, the voices of the brave women of religion are obliterated with only a scarce mention. Not enough is known to inspire future generations of women religious leaders.
More on Jais, rape and the tudung in the following publications.