Muslim women overcoming marital violence : breaking through ‘structural and cultural prisons’ created by religious leaders

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 5
  • Abstract:

    Abstract: There is growing evidence of marital violence experienced by women in the Muslim community in South Africa. While women may have recourse to divorce in a violent marital relationship, structural and cultural barriers prevent them from dealing effectively with abuse. It would seem that women receive little help from religious organisations and other structures in dealing with marital violence. Androcentric applications of Islamic law by Muslim religious leaders limit women’s access to suitable options for dealing with marital violence and obtaining a divorce. Against this background, Islamic feminist theory provides a challenge to patriarchal interpretations of the Qur’an and draws attention to social issues such as stigma, normalisation, and acceptance of violence which results in women occupying subordinate positions in Muslim society, hence becoming victims of not only direct violence but also cultural and structural violence. Using concepts of direct, structural and cultural violence as analytical instruments, this article highlights the ways in which Muslim women, who experience marital violence, are limited by metaphorical prisons created by structural and cultural norms produced by Muslim religious leaders who ascribe to patriarchal interpretations of Islam.