Delving into ‘Structural Prisons': As Insight into Muslim Women's Struggle in Dealing and Overcoming Marital Violence

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:20
Location: Hörsaal 48 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Muhammed SULEMAN, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
The primary sources of Shariah: The Quran and the practices of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), prohibit violence against married women. However there is growing evidence of marital violence experienced by married women in the Muslim community in South Africa. While Islam allows women recourse to leave their abusive marital relationships, the context within which find themselves, acts as a barrier.  As far as the marital relationship is concerned, there is a disjuncture in what is stipulated in Shariah and how Muslims adhere to its stipulations.  Using direct, structural and cultural violence, this conceptual paper seeks to explore literature around these key themes with a focus on married Muslim women and Islamic law. A preliminary search on relevant literature, together with anecdotal evidence revealed that despite being victims of domestic violence, women receive little help from relevant structures such as family and religious organisations. If they choose divorce, they are stigmatised by relevant structures. Using direct, structural and cultural violence as analytical instruments, this conceptual paper explains why Muslim women remain in abusive relationships by problematising the context in which they find themselves. Certain structures act as either perpetrators or victims of structural violence. Hence they place women in ‘structural prisons.’