Introduction of Violence Against Women
SIS’s first booklet, Are Muslim Men Allowed to Beat Their Wives?, was written in the early 1990s, when women’s groups were lobbying for the enactment for a Domestic Violence Act. During the negotiations for the Act, there were several attempts to exclude Muslims from the Act’s jurisdiction because it was believed the Islam allowed Muslim men to beat their wives. Even after the Act was finally passed in 1994, it took another two years to get it implemented because of the continuing belief that the Act should not apply to Muslims.
It was within this climate that SIS decided to return to the Qur’an and study Allah’s actual words in an effort to understand their true meaning. We found not divinely-sanctioned violence against women, but rather a profound spirit of equality and justice between men and women. We could only conclude that it is not Islam that promotes violence against women, but flawed and misguided human (largely male) interpretations of Allah’s words.
Since then, SIS has grown to understand domestic violence and violence against women as only part of a larger system of gender-based violence. Much of our work remains focused on domestic violence, however, in concert with our campaigns for Muslim family law reform.