Saira Khawas Bhatti, USA
We’ve heard of plenty of holidays and dates that commemorate women for different reasons. Sometimes it’s honoring women overall on International Women’s Day, Mother’s Day, and International Day of the Girl Child. Some days commemorate individual female trailblazers like Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks. Other times, there are movements created by women to highlight women’s rights like the Women’s March in the United States. Often these days are meant to establish a bond of sisterhood and camaraderie amongst women globally, with hashtags and brands chiming in.
November 25th commemorates a day known as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women; a day declared by the United Nations in 1999  to raise awareness about acts of violence against women.
In Latin America, this day has particular significance due to the historical background. Prior to the UN designation of this date, on this day activists commemorated the assassination of the three Mirabal sisters in 1960, which was ordered by Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo because of their political activism and opposition to him.  However, the legacy of violence in varying forms against women in Latin America and the world remains. According to the United Nations, one third of women and girls have suffered physical or sexual violence in their life, usually by an intimate partner, while 71% of the world’s human trafficking victims are women and girls, of which 75% are sexually mistreated. 
Despite how advanced we are as a society, impunity towards the violence and mistreatment of women and girls continues. Whether it was the elite circles of Hollywood and the eruption of the #MeToo movement,  teenage girls being gang raped and murdered in Argentina,  or the increasing rates of femicide in Europe,  fighting for women to be safe, secure, and protected has been an age-old struggle, even dating back thousands of years.
But, through the advent of Islam, the blueprint to protect women from violence and guide society towards justice has existed for over 1400 years. For context, Islam came at a time when women were mistreated and abused from their birth to their death – an unfortunate parallel to today. Prophet Muhammad (sa) brought forth a faith which empowers a woman at every stage of her life. In fact, before his death, the one of the Prophet’s last pieces of advice to his followers was to remain kind and respectful towards women. 
When a daughter is born, the Holy Prophet (sa) has taught us that she is a blessing and a true honor for men. He said: ‘If a man has daughters and he makes arrangements to have them educated and takes pains with their upbringing, God will save him from the torment of Hell.’ (Tirmidhi) 
As for marital relations, domestic violence is completely unacceptable. Rather, marriage is a relationship of equity. According to the Holy Qur’an, it states: ‘Of His signs is that He created mates for you of your own kind that you may find peace of mind through them, and He has put love and tenderness between you. In that surely are signs for a people that reflect.’ 
Even when a violation is committed against a woman, Islam demands justice. Once, a woman was raped and reported her incident to the Holy Prophet (sa). The Prophet Muhammad (sa) punished the rapist but prescribed no punishment for the victim  demonstrating in clear terms that impunity towards such violence is unacceptable.
The structures and wisdom exist on how to prevent violence against women, yet the statistics show that women and girls are still being hurt globally. While it is remarkable to have so many days dedicated to the advocacy women, it is disappointing that the world still needs to be reminded that violence against women is wrong. While International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is an important reminder in the cause to fight against violence towards women, it will only be effective when all of society from governments to Hollywood and celebrities to religious institutions collectively take heed and remember to practice the values of peace and security that we strive for.
Saira Khawas Bhatti is a member of the Review of Religions (spanish) team. She graduated in International affairs from George Mason University. She has a master’s degree in Latin American and Spanish Studies. She has written articles on various topics, such as: human rights, immigration, feminism, racial justice and the role of religion in society.
- Comisión Nacional para Prevenir y Erradicar la Violencia Contra las Mujeres. ‘¿Qué Es El Día Naranja y Por Qué Se Conmemora?’ gob.mx. Accessed November 22, 2020. https://www.gob.mx/conavim/articulos/que-es-el-dia-naranja-y-por-que-se-conmemora
- ¿Qué Es El Día Naranja y Por Qué Se Conmemora?’
- ‘International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.’ United Nations. United Nations. https://www.un.org/en/events/endviolenceday/
4. North, Anna. ‘7 Positive Changes That Have Come from the #MeToo Movement.’ Vox. Vox, October 4, 2019. https://www.vox.com/identities/2019/10/4/20852639/me-too-movement-sexual-harassment-law-2019
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9. Surah Ar-Rum, The Holy Qur’an, English Translation and Short Commentary (30:22) https://www.alislam.org/quran/30:22
10. Tirmidhi, Book: Punishments, Chapter: On woman who is raped. https://www.alislam.org/question/islam-require-female-rape-victim-four-witnesses/