“The Issue” is TMWT’s exploration of what Muslim women experience and the nuances that shape them. **In this instalment, TMWT spoke with Karimot Odebode, a Nigerian gender-rights activist on Gender-based Violence in Muslim Communities.**
It is a sad and unfortunate fact that SHAME has been used for centuries to shroud incidences of gender-based violence in our communities. This machinery has been used over the years to sustain violence against women and girls. In order to understand just how this plays out in Muslim communities, TMWT had a chat with Karimot Odebode on Gender-Based Violence amongst Muslims.
Karimot Odebode is a writer, poet and a gender-rights advocate at The Black Girl’s Dream – a community of Black Girls smashing the patriarchy and inspiring women and girls to be leaders and decision-makers. She is also a Youth-Champion at ONE – a global movement campaigning against extreme poverty and preventable diseases.
TMWT: What would our community look like if our gender equality goals were met?
Karimot Odebode: I see a community where we all stand for justice and fairness irrespective of gender. I see a community where everyone matters, and no one is judged based on their biology. We will truly be living the words and doings of the Prophet (PBUH) if we practise equality in its real sense.
TMWT: What are Muslim communities missing out on by not maximizing the talents of both genders?
Karimot Odebode: We have not tapped into a lot of potentials because of a binary definition of gender. Our communities have intentionally done a disservice to themselves by not recognizing and giving both genders the same platforms. It’s disheartening that some members of the community have taken action to discredit Muslim women against occupying leadership positions. What they have refused to acknowledge is that the representation of both genders in the political space is important for the growth of the community.
TMWT: In what ways do you think gender-based violence manifests in Muslim Communities?
Karimot Odebode: Gender-based violence manifests in various ways. We’ve heard cases of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Gatekeepers of the patriarchy have also twisted certain passages from the scripture to justify their actions
TMWT: What could be the reason why Muslim communities evade conversations around gender-based violence?
Karimot Odebode: Fear! Gatekeepers of the patriarchy are afraid that the truth will be unveiled, so they will rather we all be silent so they can enjoy the benefits of putting women below. Women are afraid that they will be shut out of the community if they talk bout Gender-Based Violence. They will rather speak in hushed tones or not speak at all.
TMWT: Do you think Muslim communities have room to improve our gender equality
Karimot Odebode: There’s always the room to improve on gender equality. The tenets of Islam support equality in its real and practical sense. Women have rights supported by Islam. It’s sad that men are intentionally going against the tenets of Islam to claim superiority. The room for Gender Equality has been set by Islam but we’ve been barred from occupying it.
TMWT: What is one thing that Muslim women can do to end gender-based violence in our communities
Karimot Odebode: Muslim women have a lot to do to put an end to it. We wear the shoe, and we know where it hurts the most. We need to know that the only person to fear is God, and every creation of His is His slave. When we acknowledge that, we won’t be afraid of men and women who assign themselves as Judge and Jury. Muslim women should stop being afraid. We should speak up more often. It’s also okay if you don’t want to speak. But It should always be your call. Know that shame is a faux creation by man to make you feel lesser than yourself. Do not be ashamed of your mistakes. Be brave! Do not be afraid!
TMWT is an online media platform spotlighting the stories of Muslim women of the past and present. We aim to be one of the most authoritative and informative guides to what is happening in the world of Muslim women. We hope to cover key issues, spark debates, progressive ideas and provocative topics to get the Muslim world talking. We want to set agendas and explore ideas to improve the lives and wellbeing of Muslim Women.