On October 22, I came across a post by one of my Facebook friends, a free thinking, well-educated, and successful woman who lives in Finland. It began by saying, “This is something very personal I want to share with my FB friends.”
Having no idea what I was about to see, I was curious and continued to read.
“Some of you know me in IRL [in real life] and some of you just from the internet. But I want you all to know a story about myself.
“I am a 23-year-old Kurdish girl born and raised in Finland. My parents are conservative Kurds from Bashur [Iraqi Kurdistan]. My mother’s from Hewler [Arbil] and my father’s from Kirkuk.
“Exactly about 4 years ago, I decided I couldn’t stand my parents anymore. My parents are Muslim conservatives and they have a tribal mind. I finished high school and after that they wanted to marry me off. I refused a few times until they got violent, so I decided to flee home. I have not had any contacts with my parents for the last 4 years. My entire family threatens me with death messages and if they see me, they will surely kill me or get violent.
“Today I am 23. I finished my dream university and have a great job and I live alone. My parents can contact me when they feel I am more important than their cultural tribal values and religion.”
Deeply moved by her testimony, I decided to learn more about her. She said that her family’s physical and psychological abuse against her was so intense and unbearable that she had to leave home. The reason of their pressures was that they feared her “integration into Finnish society.”
“Both my parents are very religious Muslims. They were afraid that after I completed high school, I would move out and live a free life like a Finnish woman. They were afraid that I would fall in love with some Finnish guy and be with him. So they got violent. But I never thought about these things. I was thinking about how to get a good education and find a good job.
“I was exposed to a lot of violence and ugly epithets. They said they would kill me because I didn’t want to marry. It was so hard for me to go through all of that, but I didn’t know what to do. I was so depressed and felt worthless. Many times, I thought of suicide.”
Karissa finally decided to stay alive and live a decent life, yet the continuing threats from her family have forced her into hiding.
“My family does not know where I live now. If they did, they could send my cousins to kill me or my father himself could kill me. Even the thought that they want to kill me makes me so sad and cry. My workplace is very near to my house, so I do not have to travel a lot.”
Karissa’s family emigrated from Iraq to Finland as political refugees in 1993. As a graduate of the department of information technologies of Finland’s Novia University, Karissa now works as a graphic designer. “I have high goals for my career. My initial dream was to graduate from university and I made it. I now aim to be a top expert in my field.”
Despite all the pain she has gone through, Karissa says she still wishes to seek a reconciliation with her family.
“I miss my family a lot. I have no family member that I have contact with as they have all disowned me. And they have threatened me with death. They kept saying I am dirty.
“How I wish they understood me and we could be a real family. But I have stopped calling them; for now, there is no hope.”
Karissa is also an ex-Muslim – something she has avoided telling her family.
“My family does not know that I don’t believe in Islam. If they did, they would hate me even more.”
Coming out as an abused ex-Muslim woman is extremely brave yet dangerous for Karissa but she says that she has shared her story on social media to give hope and courage to other women in a similar situation:
“I know many women from the Middle East feel the same way and have the same fate as me. But many don’t have the courage to speak out. I had two female relatives who got shot in Kurdistan because their family members thought their daughters ‘tainted their families’ honor.’ I would want girls who are afraid of fleeing their homes to take the risk and flee. But they are so afraid of their parents and what their relatives would think of or do to them. And if you are a woman, it is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to flee your home and survive in any majority-Muslim country.”
All of these horrific abuses against girls and women are taking place in Muslim communities while many self-described feminist activists in the West are busy discussing whether or not women should shave their legs or dye their arm pit hair, or what they should do in the face of “slut-shaming,” or why they should stop using “guys” to address “mix-gender groups” or what “non-binary pronouns” should be used for those who identify as neither gender, or both.
In the meanwhile, Muslim or ex-Muslim women across the world are violated or murdered by beatings, beheading, burning, shooting, and torture for daring to make their own decisions about their own lives, such as filing for divorce or rejecting their husband’s offers of reconciliation. In many cases, the perpetrators are released and not punished.
Violence against women is a serious problem in many parts of the world. But in majority-Muslim countries, it is systematic and broadly tolerated. Oppression of women is allowed or even encouraged in Islamic scriptures – the Koran and at the hadith sunnah literature. (For those who are interested, all of these scriptures are easily found on the internet.) And it is no secret that Muslim-majority countries are the worst violators of gender equality.
According to U.S. News & World Report:
“Of the 10 countries perceived to be the worst in terms of gender equality − based on data from the 2016 Best Countries rankings that evaluated 60 countries − eight are Muslim-majority nations. Islamic Sharia law often plays a large role in the governance of personal matters like marriage, divorce and inheritance among Muslim populations.”
The murder and oppression of women in Turkey, my country of birth, is also skyrocketing as the country further Islamicizes under its Islamist government. But of course, Muslim communities are not only about that. There are also remarkably courageous women’s rights activists in many Muslim countries trying to struggle against the dominant misogynistic culture they live in.
For example, a women’s rights activist organization in Turkey, Kadın Cinayetlerini Durduracağız Platformu (We Will Stop Femicides Platform), issues monthly reports about the girls and women who are murdered or abused, mostly by those closest to them, such as husbands, fathers, brothers, boyfriends, sons, or grandsons. It is mind-blogging that their efforts are largely ignored by feminist academics and activists in the West.
Karissa’s life story is also the reason why − despite all of its flaws − Western civilization is worth defending and fighting for. On the one side, Karissa’s own parents who threaten her with death for wanting to make her own choices. On the other side, there’s Finland, a free and civilized country that provides Karissa with human rights and freedoms, helping her preserve her dignity, regardless of her ethnic origin or religion.
Europe is far from perfect, but it’s still much more culturally, morally and intellectually superior to the Islamic world. And this is what so many Westerners seem to fail to grasp.
Furthermore, the move by some Western feminists to paint Islam as a pioneering force in women’s rights is actually enabling the repression and murder of more Muslim women. Western feminists have a choice: They can either side with Islamists who oppress and even murder women, or they can honestly recognize the religious motivations behind those crimes and show solidarity with women violated by Muslim men. Sadly, many so-called activists seem to have chosen the former, showing how misguided they are in their thinking. Despite all of their claims, they have chosen to be ultimately uncaring and insensitive regarding women’s rights in order to protect a primitive religion.
Uzay Bulut is a journalist and political analyst from Turkey. She is an associate fellow of the Philos Project.
Views expressed in op-eds are not the views of The Daily Caller.