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Woman and Islam. Muslim Women in Multi-faith Australia. Changes in women’s status introduced by Islam. Spiritual equality with men The right to a separate legal identity The right to own and manage their own property The right to inherit The right to divorce Female infanticide prohibited

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Woman and Islam

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Woman and Islam

Muslim Women in Multi-faith Australia


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Changes in women’s status introduced by Islam

  • Spiritual equality with men

  • The right to a separate legal identity

  • The right to own and manage their own property

  • The right to inherit

  • The right to divorce

  • Female infanticide prohibited

  • Restrictions on polygamy


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Women in the early days of Islam

We see examples of Muslim women who:

  • Owned their own business

  • Worked for a living

  • Fought in battle

  • Taught men religious knowledge

  • Led an army

  • Argued with the Caliph

  • Held public office


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Patriarchy returns!

In time, Muslims:

  • adopted customs such as the veiling & seclusion of women from other cultures

  • Came to rely on interpretations of the texts by male jurists exclusively

  • Allowed women’s rights to be eroded & forgotten


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The position of Muslim women today

  • Varies considerably from one country to another –

    • The lives of Saudi women are still very restricted by the law

    • Women in South East Asia have traditionally enjoyed much more freedom

  • Women’s lives are affected by poverty, illiteracy & traditional custom


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Current trends

  • Religious revivalism:

    • More women choosing to wear hijab

    • More women seeking religious knowledge

    • Reinterpretation of the primary texts in relation to women’s issues

  • Slow but positive change in women’s status in some Muslim countries


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Muslim women in Australia:

The stereotype:

  • They come from Arab countries

  • Are uneducated

  • Speak English badly or not at all

  • Dress in long black robes with face veils

  • Do not work outside the home

  • Do not participate in society

  • Are dominated by their husbands


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Egypt

Turkey

Pakistan

India

Sudan

Sri Lanka

Iran

Iraq

Lebanon

Fiji

Bangladesh

Afghanistan

Palestine

Somalia

Bosnia

Australia

The reality: Muslim women are a multicultural community. They come from many different countries:


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Muslim women & education

  • Approximately 36% are Australian born & educated in Australian schools

  • Recent research indicates that Muslim women are more likely to be engaged in higher education than other women

  • On the other hand, recently arrived migrants & refugees may have poor English skills & little formal education


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Muslim women & dress: is it so important?

  • Some Muslim women wear hijab (a scarf covering their hair)

  • Some wear traditional long robes with or without a face veil

  • Some wear ordinary western dress

  • Modesty is important to Muslim women

  • Dress is not necessarily an indicator of religious commitment



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But not yet…

  • Magistrates

  • Judges

  • Governor-General

  • Members of Parliament

  • Cabinet Ministers

  • Premier or Prime Minister


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Education

English classes for migrant women

Vocational education

Computer classes

Learn to drive

Children’s activities

Educating women about their Islamic rights

Welfare work

Migrant resettlement

Domestic violence

Care of the elderly

Prison visiting

Helping refugees

Inter-faith and Inter-cultural dialogue

Muslim women are active in society in:


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Recent events have impacted adversely upon Muslims in Australia:

  • Border protection & the Tampa crisis

  • September 11 in the US & the ‘war on terror’

  • In NSW, the ‘Lebanese gang rape’ trials

  • Media opinion that Muslims are incompatible with Australian society


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The effect on Muslim women Australia:

  • Muslim women are visible targets of vilification because of their dress & standards of personal modesty. Unfavourable public action has led to:

    • Cancellation of swimming classes for girls at a Muslim school

    • Attempts to close a ‘women only’ gym

    • Forcible removal of Muslim women’s headcover

    • Insults and verbal abuse of Muslim women


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