Written by Layla Elabed.
“Speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil” that must be the motto when society thinks about the marginalization of women and girls.
Gender-based violence is a worldwide epidemic that women and girls suffer at disproportionate rates because of patriarchal, misogynic, sexist, and oppressive societal and cultural norms that are rarely or unsuccessfully contested.
Just like all other abuse and violence against women, abuse by in-laws is another crime that is silenced. This type of abuse is unfortunately, extremely prevalent in South Asian, Arab, Indian, and many other cultures. Cultures where girls are viewed merely as daughters to be married, never permanent in their family’s home and daughter-in-laws as outsiders, squatters among their son’s or decorated maids and baby-machines. Abuse by in laws can come from mother-in-laws, father-in-laws, sister-in-laws, brother-in-laws, extended family, and many times the spouse is a perpetrator as well.
It can be physical, but most of the time, it is verbal and mental abuse, and the abuse is worse if the girl is living with her in-laws.
It is not like the lighthearted, comical scenario often times depicted in movies and sitcoms, where the mother-in-law doesn’t like the girl her son brought home and then Jane Fonda’s character does everything she can to sabotage the relationship and upcoming matrimony.
Abuse by in-laws can be extreme. It can be physical, but most of the time, it is verbal and mental abuse, and the abuse is worse if the girl is living with her in-laws. Sometimes a daughter-in-law faces daily scrutiny and intimidation. Imagine being told every day that you’re not good enough, called derogatory names, bullied, and criticized for your every move.
Abused because you can’t have any children.
Abused because your child is a girl.
Abused because you did not bear any sons — even though science tells us it is the man who determines the sex of the baby.
Abused because of your education.
Abused because you want an education.
Abused because of your career.
Abused because you don’t fit the expectation of a wife for their son.
Abused because you are female.
Abusers will find any excuse to justify their victimization because it makes them feel powerful and in control.
Faryal Makhdoom Khan, the Muslim Pakistani-American model and makeup guru married to British boxing Olympian, Amir Khan, has recently shed light on her own abuse at the hands of her in-laws in a series of social media posts.
I have read comments where Muslims are using Islam to reprimand [Faryal Makhdoom Khan] for exposing her abuse through social media, utterly ignoring the innate nature of Islam’s teachings of social justice.
Her story is not uncommon and many women have suffered the same abuse, but Makhdoom is using her status and her social media following to talk about this issue. She has pledged to break the silence and change the norms that perpetuate violence against women by in-laws.
As I have been personally following her story, I have been disappointed by so much of the Muslim community’s negative reaction. So many are bashing this sister because of the outlet she choose to expose her abuse and abusers, her manner of dress, and her lifestyle. It is as if her lack of hijab or covering is justification to ignore or slight her accusations of abuse. I have read comments where Muslims are using Islam to reprimand her for exposing her abuse through social media, utterly ignoring the innate nature of Islam’s teachings of social justice. Like using a saying of the Prophet (PBUH): “Whoever covers (the sins of) a Muslim, Allah covers (his sins) on the Day of Judgement.” (Bukhari)
This Hadith is taken out of context too often and not applicable in a situation of oppression and injustice, we aren’t talking about her in-laws committing petty theft, people. Whether you like her or believe her, this type of domestic violence is a reality for many women and girls — It is about time we start talking about it and doing something about it. #TeamFaryal