I’ll tell you a story:
Last week, one of my students was giving an oral presentation on the topic of sexism. Being the social activist that she is, she ended her presentation by passing out invitations to the demonstration against rape that took place yesterday in Downtown Beirut.
It was pretty impressive.
One of the points she covered in her presentation was particularly upsetting to a couple of her classmates: marital rape as a form of sexism. Two of my female students raised their hands to ask a question; one of them pointed the presenter’s attention to the fact that Islam tells a woman that her duty is to comply with her husband’s needs and demands, especially the sexual ones. The other student, told her that “there is no such thing as ‘marital’ rape, it simply doesn’t exist”. The student who was presenting got flustered; it would take years of reading, struggling, experience, and skepticism to be able to stand up for the mighty power of the religious argument. However, her reply was extraordinary: she told her classmates that she respects religious doctrine, however, many married women who are also religious still feel that they are being raped by their own husbands, and that religion should respect that too.
The story ends here, but the questions begin.
I was both proud and saddened: proud that one eighteen-year-old should have a mind of her own, and saddened that another two should stand with what they have been taught against the common sense stance with the suffering of their own kind.