What’s Modest Fashion?

Regardless of your religious preference, there are simply times when modest fashion should prevail. What is “modest”? You may ask, “modest” is a reference to wearing less revealing or skin revealing clothing.

Everyone will have their own personal interpretation of the term “modest”. The term is different for different people. For some, it’s dresses that hit below the knees while for others it’s dresses that are no higher than six inches above the knees.

Some will state that sleeveless attire is inappropriate or immodest. The reason given is one of protection: someone can peer underneath of the shirt at the armpit and see the woman’s breast.

In spite of the myriad of interpretations, all will agree that modest means appropriately covering one’s body so that no one can see the breasts or too much leg. In the mid to late 1800s, even the ankle showing or the upper wrist area showing was considered to be immodest. Clearly, the term modest has evolved alongside the era.

Unfortunately, over the years, many have interpreted the term “modest” with boring attire. This isn’t necessarily true. There are many fashionable clothing items that are still in fashion yet very modest.

What is modest for one person may not be modest at all for another. This is more typical in some religious cultures. A Muslim woman, for example, must keep her head covered when out in public. This is considered modest. Another religion will allow a woman to wear a wig to cover her head whilst out in public.

In spite of popular opinion, modesty isn’t oppressive. It’s a choice that a woman makes when she’s dressing to not show off too much of her body. This level of modesty is different for every woman in every culture. Modesty doesn’t mean a woman has to wear a shapeless tent of a dress and cover her face.

Modesty is an individual definition of each and every woman. A woman who is less endowed won’t have to worry as much as a woman who is more endowed with how high her neckline is. However, she may choose to be cautious so that she’s not offending others.

At one point in time, if the collarbone were showing, the dress or shirt was considered to be immodest. Of course, the sleeves should be nearly elbow length and the shirt should also cover the midriff section in order to be considered modest.

Not everyone views modesty on the same level. Again, what is modest for one woman may not be modest at all for another. It’s all in the definition. Keep in mind that low cut tops or tops that expose the midriff are both considered to be immodest in most circles.

Skirts that aren’t fingertipped length when the arms are at the sides are also considered by many circles (most schools) to be immodest. Exposing one’s body by allowing others to see the parts that a swimsuit would cover, is considered immodest in most circles. Modest fashion is an individual opinion.

Still confused about modest fashion? Watch the video below if you would like to learn more:

UN Investigating Samoan Violence Against Women

It’s not always easy to record and document violence against women in the most developed countries in the world, but that can be even harder in countries that have less of a medium available in which their citizens can make a reasonable attempt to cry out for help. If you’re a woman living your life in a quiet Samoan society, what can you do to make yourself heard? The answer is this: more than ever before, but still not enough. Luckily, the U.N. has launched an expansive investigation into allegations of a growing number of cases involving violence against women.

In early August, U.N. investigators began the search for the truth. They started in the Samoan capital, Apia, and branched out further into villages on the islands of Upolu and Savai’i. There are only 200,000 people living in Samoa, so when allegations of rising violence come to light, it’s difficult not to take them seriously. Then again, it’s extremely possible that the perpetuation of such violence isn’t necessarily on the rise; instead, perhaps it’s more likely that newly emboldened women who live there are finally taking a step in the right direction by coming forward to report the crimes.

There were only 200 cases of domestic violence reported in 2012, and in only three short years that figure has skyrocketed to over 700. A 2007 study exposed other startling figures. Over 45 percent of women were abused by their significant others, while around 60 percent were abused by others. That a majority of women experience abuse but only a frighteningly small percentage go on to report it suggests that silence is a deeply ingrained aspect of the local culture and society.

In order to combat the humanitarian crisis, then, something needs to be done in order to confront the guilt and shame felt by those abused while providing a reasonable alternative. Although shelters for women abound in the U.S., those same options aren’t always available to women in other regions overseas. That means if women come forward now, they could be putting themselves at further risk. No one wants that, but we need to hear from them in order to facilitate the right kind of change. Their stories need to be told and told quickly.

The U.N. investigators sent to Samoa will be interacting with various other agencies in the country in order to continue searching for facts related to domestic violence. They plan to speak with government officials about what more can be done, while also looking to state representatives and academic leaders for more help. The first step is policy reform.

Rape Insurance For Unintended Pregnancies

Women have never had an easy time keeping safe when roomfuls of men routinely decide how they can treat their own bodies after experiencing even the most terrifying worst-case scenarios imaginable. In the case of Texas House Bill 214, taxpayers no longer have to subsidize abortions because health insurance companies are barred from offering coverage to women who might want–or need–an abortion. Naturally, a serious conversation on the nature of abortion must take place as a result (even though the very same conversation has taken place perhaps a gazillion times in the last decade alone).

Sure, you can be for or against abortion. There are some who are pro-life because they believe life starts at conception for a number of reasons, many including religion. There are some who are pro-choice because they feel a woman has the final say in deciding what to do with her own body and what grows inside it. And then there are still others who are privately pro-life, but legally pro-choice–people who understand that their own personal opinions shouldn’t necessarily make the difference between legal and illegal or what can and can’t be covered by a health insurance provider.

Then again, that’s not necessarily what this conversation has to be about. The lawmakers who drafted this bill notably didn’t account for the various reasons that a woman might choose to have an abortion. What happens when the baby growing inside of you has biological abnormalities that might result in its death directly after birth or a life in pain? Tough luck to mother and baby both, according to Republican lawmakers. Your baby, your responsibility. You’ll have to chalk up the cash yourself if you want an abortion, even if that expenditure might break the bank. Your. Problem.

Heck, even if your baby is growing without a brain, you’ll still have to have to wait until it’s born naturally. Your insurance and the taxpayers aren’t going to help. And the lawmakers? Surely not. Unless the mom is physically in danger, there’s no one she can look to for help.

And what happens if you were impregnated during a brutal rape? Well, that’s no different. You’re the one who’s pregnant, and everything happens for a reason, right? According to the men deciding your fate, that’s just the way it is. You still need to find the cash yourself. It’s not your neighbor’s problem to help lift the burden of a crappy society.

This all means one thing: if you’re a woman and want to protect against the possibility that you might need an abortion after you’ve been raped (and since you’re female that’s already a ridiculously common scenario), then you need to pay up for “rape” insurance, or more accurately, abortion insurance. Naturally, the statistical likelihood that you could be raped increases as your yearly income decreases. In other words, the poorer you are the more likely you will be put in this situation.

Even though all these arguments were made to the lawmakers responsible for Bill 214, they were ignored. Even though it could have been made at least somewhat sensible by writing rape and fetal abnormality exceptions into the bill, these sensibilities were ignored. As per usual, the voice of the male majority squashed those who already have less of a voice in our government.

Details About The Honor Killing of Ahmet Yildiz

Most people believe that honor killings are only performed against women, but men are most definitely not exempt. When Ahmet Yildiz decided against living a lie, instead choosing to live openly as a gay man, his father stalked him a crazy six hundred miles in order to dole out his brand of justice. Yildiz was shot and killed in Istanbul nearly a decade ago, but honor killings such as these still occur all the time with no end in sight.

One of the issues that makes honor killings so difficult to study or fully grasp is the lack of publicity surrounding them. Yildiz’s murder was the first honor killing of a gay man to find any publicity in Turkey. That doesn’t mean none have occurred in the past–it just means any murders that did occur were squashed and covered up by families or ignored by authorities.

When Yildiz’s father finally caught up to him, he was on his way out of his apartment to purchase ice cream. His father pumped him full of five bullets, after which most witnesses hid inside nearby apartments. One person who did venture forward noted that there were dozens of others who saw the crime play out. Because this was an honor killing, the body was never claimed by family members.

After the 26-year-old’s murder, his father ran away, forcing a trial to proceed without him. At the time of the murder, it forced Turkey to take a look at how and why these types of crimes happen. There are effectively two different worlds colliding within the country: there is the traditional Turkey which values the old ways and customs, and then there is the new Turkey that is quickly becoming more westernized. Families are routinely torn apart because of this conflict. Ahmet was born into an extremely religious family, and his decision to come out of the closet was seen as a steely betrayal, an insult to the family’s honor, and an embarrassment when seen by the community.

Thousands of people die annually because of similar honor killings, but those committed against men seem to remain invisible–as do many others. Even so, those convicted in such murders may find themselves the recipients of a life sentence, which many would say is too lenient a sentence for their crimes.

One of the reasons that the murder of gay men in Turkey might be swept under the rug is the apparent difference to the community as a whole. While a son coming out of the closet might taint a family’s honor in the eyes of that family, it also destroys a societal construct that many don’t want to change: that is, that sexuality is a choice or that homosexuality can be cured. If you come out as gay, then you attack the very nature of your gender’s usual identity for the people around you.

When will it stop? Violent crimes against homosexuals even occur in New York City

WHAT IS THE AHA FOUNDATION?

Many of us in the Western world see men and women as equals. Maybe in different roles or the same roles of life, but we see them as equals in personhood, respect, intelligence, and dignity.

Sadly, there are some parts of the world where that is not the case, and they prove it through brutality that many of us cannot fathom.

For many years, female genital mutilation has been a practiced ritual in some cultures, including in many Muslim areas of the world – mainly in the Middle East, though some fundamentalist Muslims practice it within their European or North America enclaves. Considered one part of “honor violence” against women – right alongside “honor killings” – the subjugation of women has been part and parcel of some cultures going back centuries, and honor violence has been one way to ensure it.

A barbaric practice that dates back to the early days of Islam, honor violence was rarely talked about until some of it came to the fore in headlines through Western civilization with stories of honor killings and female genital mutilation occurring in Europe and North America in recent years.

While many are willing to “apologize” for the violence and claim that it is much in the minority of practicing Muslims, one woman has been a bullhorn in bringing attention to the practice as more widespread than believed and more pervasive and dangerous on behalf of women and girls everywhere.

This is where Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s voice can be heard, and her face seen. She is the resistance to traditional Islam and a force for reform for the benefit of women and girls. She is a survivor of honor violence and she consistently speaks out against the practice and seeks to educate the Western world to help stand for human rights and the dignity of women and girls who are in the Muslim faith.

Ali was subjected to genital mutilation more than 40 years ago as a young girl in Somalia, then was taught to be submissive to men, though she was strong enough to question it. She later sought political asylum in Holland and went from janitor to a member of Dutch Parliament. As she rose in status in the European community, she began to speak out more and more about honor violence and fighting for the rights of equality among women and calling for reforms in Islam that would wipe out the practice of honor violence, and especially genital mutilation.

A bestselling author of several books, Ali eventually started the AHA Foundation, which advocates the end of honor violence against women and girls, including forced marriage, within the Western culture of the United States, and fight for the rights of women all around the world, especially in cultures where female subjugation is tradition or culturally acceptable.

The Foundation is based on four main pillars:

  • Intervention: Supporting women and girls in the U.S. who are facing forced marriage or violence.
  • Influence: Raising awareness of oppression and violence based on gender.
  • Information: Providing training to providers to help them recognize honor violence and take appropriate steps to mitigate and counteract it.
  • Investigation: Conduct data-gathering mission to build the case for the work and establish foundational baselines for the anomalies and risks of honor violence and forced marriages.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the women’s rights activist of this generation. For more information about her foundation and its work, check out www.theahafoundation.org.

 

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: THE NUMBERS DON’T LIE

In a Western civilization, people are exactly that – civilized.

And when they are civilized, the idea of committing any form of violence against another person, even based on gender, class or race, seems to be lowering civilization to its very basal instincts of fear, power, and survival.

We’re all supposed to be better than that.

Fortunately, for the most part, civilization is indeed civilized, and it doesn’t tolerate violence that is prejudicial in any way, whether it’s based on the dominance of a gender, the superiority of a race or the power of one class over another. We civilized people tend to push out these kinds of behaviors and not make them part of our existence.

That actually is part of why violence against women is seen as such an anomaly in Western civilizations, though the prevalence of the violence is much more marked In other parts of the world, and the numbers seem to bear it out in a report put out by the World Health Organization.

For those who bemoan women’s “rights” and such in Western civilization, here are some stats to help underscore the real problem that the Western world does not allow itself to see. You think women are “oppressed” in the Western world? Check out some of these statistics regarding violence against women:

  • It is estimated that about 35 percent of all women (7 in 20) worldwide have experienced some type of sexual or physical violence in their life.
  • About 3 in 10 women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence at the hand of their partner when in a relationship.
  • It is estimated that 38 percent (about 3 in 8) of murders of women are committed by an “intimate partner” – a boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse.
  • The rate of sexual violence by an “intimate partner” against women range from a low of 15 percent in Japan to as high as 71 percent in Ethiopia. So even in a Western civilization at least 1 in 6 or 1 in 5 women experience violence by a spouse or relationship partner. This does not account for all physical or sexual violence.
  • Women who were sexually or physically abused are about 1.5 times more likely to have a sexually-transmitted disease than women who had not experienced such violence. Abused women are also twice as likely to have an abortion.

While these numbers seem like a minority, this is a global number, which means we’re talking about hundreds of millions of women – think the United States’ population being 100-percent female – then tripling it. That is about30 percent of women in the world.

Some important risk factors were found, that seem to show indications or the increased likelihood of a woman experiencing violence in her life:

  • A low level of education.
  • An antisocial personality.
  • Having multiple partners, or even being accused of infidelity by a partner (whether true or not).
  • Being a witness to violence in the family and/or mistreatment of children.
  • Being in a culture or society where violence and inequality of women are considered acceptable.

Physical or sexual violence against women is never acceptable in civilized, mature and fair societies and cultures. Where there is a large amount of violence against women tells you that it is a culture not fit to be part of modern society, and it must be reformed or eradicated by the strongest force possible – the force of love for women and no apologies for the perpetrators.

Proof That Honor Killings Are Worse Than You Can Imagine

Most honor killings affect young women or girls who have done no real wrong in the eyes of most of the world. But in the eyes of their families or communities, they are the root of all evil. How is it possible, though, that someone might become convinced that the death of a two-day-old girl is somehow necessary in order to retain a family’s honor? Sadly, that was exactly what happened way back in 2010, and it’s a story being told and retold again seven years later in 2017.

Having premarital sex or engaging in sexual relations out of wedlock in some regions of the world is a much more criminal act than any of us might realize–so criminal, in fact, that the conception of a baby during such this act could be reason enough to end a life. When a 25-year-old mother was impregnated without first marrying, her grandmother and the rest of the family decided that the baby’s life should be forfeit. The grandmother strangled the baby, which was then buried in the garden out back. Luckily, an anonymous call made to the police led to the secret being uncovered.

It turns out that the family bribed a doctor and secretary to keep the birth off of traditional registries. The father of the child was in the military at the time of the murder, and so he was obviously not involved. In addition to the doctor and secretary, police arrested the mother and six others in connection to the honor killing.

As barbaric as this incident might sound, it’s hardly the first–or the last. Sadly, it’s also far from the worst.

In Pakistan, arranged marriages are a traditional norm, and marrying for any other reason–especially against the wishes of your own family–is an invitation for disaster. In 2014, one couple had barely been married for a week before they were murdered. Family members participated in the killings, slitting the throats of their loved ones. If that weren’t bad enough, children were forced to watch as the couple bled to death in an apparent warning: this could happen to you if you marry out of love. Learn and respect the traditional way, or suffer a gruesome end.

Five people were arrested after the couple was murdered.

In countries that hold such traditions, women generally have little cultural of financial value outside of marriage. As terrible as this is, it helps some people in these communities accept that these killings might even be okay or necessary. It isn’t unprecedented for pregnant women to fall victim to the same end for similar reasons. Many of these cases are either unreported or ignored by the proper authorities, even as global outrage to these crimes continues to swell. The world is changing fast, but brutal customs continue to persist. How many more will die?

Is Facebook Responsible For Honor Killings?

When we’re browsing our favorite social media platforms, most of us don’t stop to consider the full scope of what we’re doing. Who are we talking to, and what effect are we having on those we correspond with? What are the consequences of our actions, both seen and unseen? Those questions are experiencing dynamic shifts as we begin to search for the answers in a rapidly advancing age of connectivity and higher technology. Here’s a new one: are there honor killings over the use of Facebook?

In some Middle Eastern countries, arranged marriages are tradition. Straying from the path set forth by your parents is a dangerous option that few would exercise, but some choose to anyway in hopes of finding greater freedom through the outside world. When one Saudi Arabian woman was caught perusing Facebook by her father, she was beaten for her curiosity–especially because she had been speaking with a man she had met online. After the beating she was forced to endure, her father shot her.

This isn’t a complete surprise because many religious leaders in the region are convinced that Facebook and other social media platforms just like it are an unprecedented source of evil–and they work tirelessly to convince others of this odd belief as well. When people fall prey to these beliefs, their actions can transform into a kind of extremism that most people in more developed regions of the world can’t even fathom.

These same religious leaders believe that women shouldn’t be allowed to use Facebook or any practice management software at all because it supposedly leads them towards a life filled with lust. Even so, there are nearly 8 million Facebook users residing in the country out of a population with only 32 million people. That’s a gigantic swath of people who are giving into temptation–if you believe in that sort of thing.

In the past, many of these profiles used aliases and fake pictures in order to avoid discrimination. Saudi officials have also moved to block Facebook entirely, but the measure did not pass. In 2016, Facebook Messenger was successfully banned because of privacy concerns.

The use of Facebook in Saudi Arabia and similar countries today is very different than it is in other regions throughout the world. If you share someone else’s post or tag them in content which they could find offensive or embarrassing, then you could end up the target of a defamation suit–or much worse. Even drinking is illegal in the country, and so photos of such behavior could get you in big legal trouble.

It’s important to realize how enormously different traditions are in other regions of the world, and we need to take a moment to consider how we can best implement meaningful change to make the lives of citizens who live in those regions a whole lot better. Facebook might be the first step towards reducing the number of honor killings, but only if we can effect change the right way.

Details About The Honor Killing Of Hina Saleem

If you were born in Pakistan and decide to travel abroad to learn a little bit more about the world, you should probably be wary of your new environment and the people in it–but even moreso, perhaps you should be wary of your own parents. Hina Saleem, a twenty-year-old Pakistani native living in Northern Italy was the victim of ritualistic honor killing because she was becoming too westernized.

Hina’s father, Mohammed Saleem, was open and honest about his feelings regarding his daughter’s new outlook on life. He didn’t like it. According to him, she had dishonored and shamed the entire family, and it was up to them to make sure that she paid the price and saw his family’s honor redeemed. He says that he had no desire to kill her–no, he only wanted his baby girl to move back home where she belonged. She refused.

He dragged a knife across her throat no fewer than twenty-eight times, and is now serving a thirty year sentence for the unthinkable crime he committed. Back in 2011, he was allowed to grant an interview that showed the outside world a window into the other side of this horrible crime and the people who most often it out. Why do parents choose to kill their own children rather than see them adopt different customs and traditions, date a different kind of person, or wear different clothing? The answer is a complex one, and for most people it doesn’t make much sense.

Mohammed thought himself a decent, caring father who had done a good job raising his daughter. That ideal vision of his daughter came to a crushing halt the moment she refused to give in to a traditional marriage that had been arranged for her. She began smoking. She dated an Italian man. These were shocking betrayals. Mohammed saw this as a devastating blow to his family, and the pain of that blow radiated outward into their surrounding community, who would inevitably come to look at him differently.

After the murder was committed, he buried Hina in the garden out back. His family knew where her final resting place was located, and they supported Mohammed’s decision. This type of honor killing occurs not only because of the clash between traditions in new regions, but because the family dynamic is one of ownership over freedom. Hina Saleem was not free to fly wherever she chose–her father had the final say, and that’s why the murder was eventually committed. She was unrelenting in her desire to live a life of freedom.

According to the United Nations Population Fund, an estimated 5,000 women and girls are murdered every year in apparent honor killings, although men are not exempt from this type of violent response. The world must adopt a different attitude if these killings are to be prevented in the future, and we must acknowledge that there are countries that fail to provide legal justice in the face of such crimes. Only then can we really stand a chance to stop this trend from continuing.

Details About The Honor Killing Of Hatun Sürücü

Although honor killings are more common in certain parts of the world, we live in a world where people can travel thousands of miles in a matter of hours. Because we can live wherever we like, these somewhat archaic, ritualistic forms of murder can make their way into societies where they are deemed completely barbaric–a reputation they find for good reason. On February 7, 2005, a Turkish-Kurdish native woman named Hatun Sürücü was murdered by her younger brother in an apparent honor killing in Berlin, sparking outrage in the surrounding regions.

Hatun was only 23 when she was murdered, and her young life was ended for the most tragic of reasons. At the age of 16, she was forced to marry one of her cousins. Soonafter, she gave birth to a son through this cousin. She couldn’t handle the pressure from her family, and without any form of practical recourse she decided to run away from her home in Berlin. While in Germany, she divorced this man and began to see a native German, a turn of events which her own family found appalling. She also continued her education in an attempt to become an electrician, a feat she had very nearly accomplished when she was eventually killed.

Hatun was killed on February 7 when someone shot her in the head three times as she stood waiting near a bus stop. Although it took a few weeks for the case to gain traction during the initial investigation, police were eventually able to tease a confession out of her youngest brother. Before her death, she had already been the victim of a number of threats, which she did not hesitate to report. Before the youngest brother confessed, the media had already decided that Hatun’s death could be categorized as an honor killing.

Ayhan Sürücü, the youngest brother, was eventually convicted of the murder and sentenced to a somewhat lenient nine years and a handful in months in prison. As of July 4, 2014, he was freed and promptly deported to Turkey. A man who murdered his sister for divorcing her cousin is now free to live his life. Because this is nearly as appalling as the crime itself, and also due to the fact that this was the sixth such honor killing in less than a year, the public responded strongly especially in Dallas.

Vigils were held in Hatun’s name and memory, and some organizations fought against Turkey’s introduction to the European Union on the grounds of human rights violations. Even today, people continue to organize events to memorialize Hatun on February 7 each year, determined to fight against such injustices before they can continue.