A video from Algeria has been circulating on social media lately which includes short interviews from common individuals on a rather serious matter; domestic violence. The video starts with a woman expressing her views on the violence women often have to endure at the hands of men. While any sane person would expect this woman to speak against violence and domestic abuse, she can be seen smiling while confessing that her husband beats her up. She claims that it would be ‘unmanly’ if her husband didn’t beat her up occasionally. The video then goes on to gather opinion from men who admit to beating their wives up and show no remorse at the thought.

While we may criticize the individuals in the video, and may even go on to condemn the Algerian culture that promotes such a concept amongst its people, we cannot ignore the fact that the belief that beating up women is not a big issue and is present in numerous countries. If you dig deeper, you’ll find one thing common within all these countries: their state religion is Islam.

While I am, in no way criticizing Islamic teachings, I am bringing forward certain elements present within the teachings that promote violence against women. In a modern world, in order for any religion to flourish without being labelled backwards, it is of paramount importance that certain practices be shunned; something that Muslim communities hardly do as a result of which the image of Islam is being tarnished worldwide.

Not too long ago there was a huge social media reaction when a member of the Council of Islamic Ideology said that it was acceptable to ‘beat women lightly’. However, despite the criticism this statement received, we cannot ignore the fact that there is a huge fragment of the population, which ironically includes women as well, that believes that beating up women to ‘guide’ them or to prevent them from going astray is acceptable. These beliefs stem not from cultural norms but from religious teachings. This is evident by this video in which, when questioned if he beats his wife hard, a man replies that he only beats her ‘normally’.

A man in the video states that his wife needs to be ‘taught’ things and she will only learn if she receives thrashings. We cannot deny the fact that this belief stems from the Islamic concept that women can be beaten up if they become ‘astray’. If a woman’s character comes into question, her husband may beat her up to guide her to the right path. A similar Pakistani adaptation of this belief is about a pious woman who had a very strict husband. The woman would keep a club ready by her side for her husband to beat her up and for this act of hers she went to heaven. In women, piety is often linked to submission; the more submissive a woman, the more pious she is.

Islam is under constant scrutiny for a number of reasons; the treatment of women being one of the main. It is of paramount importance for certain beliefs and practices to be shunned for Islam's to be perceived as truly peaceful, as we are quick to highlight in face of criticism. Equality is a modern day human right that should not be ignored no matter what the reason. As long as men are allowed to ‘beat their wives lightly’ equality will be mere myth.