Hijab and Rape

Below are two articles showing two sides of the hijab and rape. The first shows a mufti publicly threatening Muslim girls that not wearing the hijab invites rape. The second shows how it can be enforced by shadowy violence.

Political uproar after mufti's remarks 24.09.2004 The Copenhagen Post
An Islamic mufti in Copenhagen has sparked a political outcry after publicly declaring that women who refuse to wear headscarves are "asking for rape."
An Islamic mufti in Copenhagen, Shahid Mehdi, has sparked political outcry from the left-wing Unity List and right-wing Danish People's Party, after stating in a televised interview that women who do not wear headscarves are "asking for rape." Unity List equality spokesman Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil has threatened to file suit for defamation against the mufti on behalf of herself and all the women of Denmark. The Danish People's Party has urged Justice Minister Lene Espersen and Integration Minister Bertel Haarder to stop the mufti's religious activities in Copenhagen.

Shahid Mehdi made his remarks in the DR2 programme "Talk to Gode," and reiterated his stance in daily newspaper B.T. The Danish People's Party and Unity List agree that Mehdi's remarks could incite Muslim men to rape Danish women by insinuating that women who did not cover their hair were undeserving of basic respect.

As a mufti, a jurist who interprets Islamic law, Shahi Mehdi is in a special position of authority as a Muslim scholar. Mehdi is currently affiliated with the Islamic Cultural Center in Copenhagen, but Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil has urged officials to ban his teachings in Denmark due to his "reactionary view of women."

"The very idea that this man is authorised to teach young people in the Koran is ludicrous. It's like letting (Danish Nazi leader) Johnny Hansen teach the history of World War II," said Rosenkrantz-Theil.

The Socialist People's Party is urging Integration Minister Bertel Haarder to investigate whether Mehdi had violated Danish laws prohibiting foreign religious clerics from engaging in activity that poses a threat to public safety, health, decency and order.

Smiley or gang rape take your pick

As the saying goes, the foolish innocent girl caught exposed is offered a choice,  gang rape or a smiley. It is supposed to be a well known punishment doing its rounds across cultures.

"The German journalist Udo Ulfkotte told in a recent interview that in Holland, you can now see examples of young, unveiled Moroccan women with a so-called "smiley". It means that the girl gets one side of her face cut up from mouth to ear, serving as a warning to other Muslim girls who should refuse to wear the veil. In the Muslim suburb of Courneuve, France, 77 per cent of the veiled women carry veils reportedly because of fear of being harassed or molested by Islamic moral patrols."

France takes on plague of sexual 'rite' 
Elaine Sciolino/NYT
The International Herald Tribune October 23, 2003

The ritual is known as a "tournante," meaning "Take your turn," 

The boys were patient, standing in line and waiting their turn to rape. Their two victims, girls of 13, were patient as well, never crying out, at least that is what the neighbors said, and enduring the violence and abuse not once, but repeatedly over five months. That was three years ago. Late last month, 10 young men, now ranging in age from 18 to 21, were convicted of rape in a closed courtroom in nearby Evry and sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to five years. Seven others will go on trial in November. The fact that they are being brought to justice at all is highly unusual.

The phenomenon of gang rape in France has become banal. It occurs - how often is unknown - in the concrete wastelands built as cheap housing for immigrants on the outskirts of France's big cities. Here, according to sociologists and prosecutors, teenage boys, many of them loosely organized into gangs, prey on neighborhood girls.

Many of the boys are raised in closed, traditional families and are hopelessly confused or ignorant about sex; others are simply street toughs. In this world, women enjoy little respect; often girls who appear weak, or who wear tight-fitting clothing or go out unaccompanied by their fathers or brothers are considered fair game.

To avoid trouble, many girls of the projects have taken to wearing loose-fitting jogging clothes and hidden themselves behind domineering fathers or brothers; others have organized themselves into their own gangs. Many of the Muslim girls have donned head scarves - more for protection than out of religious conviction.

In the basement of 4 Place Albert Einstein, in this working-class suburb where the rapes took place, a graffiti message scrawled across a white wall explains why so few cases are prosecuted. "The law of silence is our sixth sense," it reads. "I've heard too many of these stories, and it's become unbearable," said Samira Bellil, 30, a gang-rape victim, whose book, "In Gang-Rape Hell," was a bestseller in France last year. "The word of the boys is often believed. So the trauma is not just the violence but the torment that comes if a girl comes forward and breaks the silence. We have to stop taking sides with the wolves."

Bellil was gang-raped at age 14. She had fallen in love and agreed to have sex with her boyfriend. Three of his friends were waiting outside. They kicked and beat her and gang- raped her throughout the night. She waited before reporting the rapes, and did so only after three of her friends told her that they, too, had been raped by one of her attackers.
The appearance of Bellil's book last year coincided with the death of a 17-year-old girl named Sohane, who was burned alive by an angry boyfriend in the suburb of Vitry-sur-Seine. A book about the murder, which trained the spotlight on violent crime against young women in the suburbs, is still on the best-seller list. In the case of the two girls in the recent court case, the penetration was oral or anal; vaginal sex would have stolen the girls' virginity, which apparently was not the goal of the attackers.

"In many cases, the violence of a band of young men against a girl is considered a rite of sexual initiation to prove one's manhood," said Hugues Lagrange, a sociologist at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris who specializes in adolescent sexuality. "In the boys' minds, if a girl's virginity is respected, then nothing bad has happened."

The girls' story seeped out months after the events, according to Laurent Le Mehaute, the lawyer for one of the girls. After rumors circulated at their high school, the director referred the matter to the police. At first, the girls denied the story, but eventually identified 18 boys as their rapists.

All but one of the boys confessed to having sex with the girls, even acknowledging that it was not consensual. The one who claimed his innocence was acquitted.

At the vast housing project where the girls lived and where the rapes occurred, the grounds are clean, even landscaped with weeping willow and evergreen trees. The population is multiracial and multiethnic, a blend of French-born citizens and immigrants from places like north and sub-Saharan Africa, Turkey and the Caribbean. Nearby are a butcher selling halal meat, an oriental pastry shop and coffee house, a laundromat, a health club and a supermarket - as well as drug dealers openly selling hashish.

None of the young men, some whose families moved here from the Caribbean, had a previous criminal record.
Prejudice against the girls lingers. "What were the girls doing in the afternoons down in the basements?" asked one woman who lives on the first floor of the building. "Why did their parents let them go there? They know what happens if they follow the boys. They know what happens if they go to the basement."

The neighborhood butcher, from Algeria, spoke as if the suburb was a world apart. "If a girl goes out, she's going to get into trouble, especially with Arabs and blacks, because they are not used to seeing girls outside," he said. "The boys have needs. Where I come from, it's not normal that a girl goes out at night. If I tell my sister not to go out, she obeys me. This world is not like France."

There are no reliable statistics, but Lagrange estimates that there are more than four times as many gang rapes in France today as there were two decades ago; at least part of the increase can be attributed to more young women speaking out.
Transparency comes at an exceedingly high price. After one of the girls came forward, said Le Mehaute, the lawyer, "She couldn't go out anymore. People spat on her. There was tremendous psychological damage."

The girl's 39-year-old father became so depressed after the truth was revealed that last summer he hanged himself. The girl had tried but failed to kill herself the year before by slashing her arms.

Both girls were harassed so mercilessly that they have since moved away from the project. One lives with relatives, the other in state-run housing.