Islam and Muslims have long been accused of mistreating women. Whether it is by Orientalists, or the "average Joe" or Josephine relying on the media barrage of awful stereotypes to formulate his or her opinion.
Muslim men are perceived as violent, cruel and barbaric towards women in general, but especially towards their own wives, daughters and sisters.
The fact is that such disgusting behavior does occur in the Muslim world, for many of the same reasons it occurs in the United States: a cycle of abuse in the family, socio-economic factors and jealousy.
However, what could be said to distinguish women's mistreatment in the Muslim world is the general lack of Islamic education amongst men and women about day-to-day matters, including the roles and rights of women.
Mistreatment and abuse of women, and wives in particular is condemned by Islam.
Consider the following Hadith narrated by Abu Huraira in Tirmidhi: the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,"The one most perfect in his faith is he whose conduct is best and the best amongst you is he who behaves best towards his wife."
Now consider the following the statistics about how many women are treated in the United States, taken from the 1995 National Crime Victimization Survey of the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Domestic Violence Hotline Fact Sheet and Statistics
HOW MANY ABUSED WOMEN ARE THERE IN THE U.S.?
Women age 12 or older annually sustained almost 5 million violent victimizations in 1992 and 1993.
Women and girls ages 12 and up annually reported about 500,000 rapes and sexual assaults, almost 500,000 robberies, and about 3.8 million assaults.
WHO ARE THE ABUSERS
In 29% of all violence against women by a lone offender, the perpetrator was an intimate (husband,ex-husband, boyfriend or ex-boyfriend).
Women annually reported about 500,000 rapes and sexual assaults Friends or acquaintances of the victims committed over half of these rapes or sexual assaults. Strangers were responsible for about 1 in 5.
HONOR KILLINGS IN AMERICA?
Of the 5328 women murdered in 1990, FBI data indicate that about half or more of them by a husband or boyfriend.
VIOLENCE AMONG COUPLES
A minimum of 16 % of American couples experienced an assault during the year they were asked about it, and about 40% of these involved severely violent acts, such as kicking, biting, punching, choking, and attacks with weapons.
A 1993 national poll found that 34% of adults in the United States report having witnessed a man beating his wife or girlfriend and that 14% of women report that a husband or boyfriend has been violent with them.
THE PHYSICAL DAMAGE CAUSED TO WOMEN AND CHILDREN BY ABUSE
During the last decade, domestic violence has been identified as one of the major causes of emergency room visits by women.
From 20% to 30% of the women who are seen by emergency room physicians exhibit at least one or more symptoms of physical abuse.
10% of the victims were pregnant at the time of abuse.
10% reported that their children had also been abused by the batterer.
THE ECONOMIC FACTOR IN WOMEN'S ABUSE
*Women aged 19 to 29 and women in families with incomes below $10,000 were more likely than other women to be victims of violence by an intimate.
Sources: 1995 National Crime Victimization Survey of the U.S. Department of Justice. You can order this Special Report (NCJ-154348) "Violence Against Women: Estimates from the Redesigned Survey August 1995" by calling the Bureau of Justice Statistics Clearinghouse, 800-732-3277and the National Domestic Violence Hotline Fact Sheet and Statistics.