Islamic street preacher Al-Hasshim Kamena Atangana at the intersection of Younge and Dundas. He says North American women should be made to "cover up" as a way of avoiding sexual assault. (Terry Davidson/Toronto Sun)
Women are "raw meat" waiting to be devoured by men because of their dress, declared an Australian imam in 2006.
Six years later, and in our own backyard, a young convert to Islam, Al-Haashim Kamena Atangana is proposing new laws in Canada that would require women to cover up "like Muslim women," concealing all but their eyes and hands. He contends that the high incidence of rape in North America is because of how women dress in Western countries. The new laws would make it "illegal for women to dress provocatively in the streets," and would thereby take away the freedoms Western women enjoy.
Canadian women would have to be covered up in burkas, abayas and hijabs. They would presumably also be segregated, and their male relatives would monitor and control their behaviour. So what is it about Islamist men and their preoccupation with sex that awakens such paranoia about women's garb?
First, many Islamist men do not understand the imperative of consent in a sexual relationship. They believe rape is a normal rather than a criminal reaction to female physiology, and assume that this would be every man's response to a glimpse of some skin.
The young convert also naively assumes that rape occurs in the Western world more frequently than in the Islamic world. He goes onto to suggest we "should take your example from the way Muslim women dress. Why does Muslim women who wear long dress and covers her head aren't targeted for sex attacks? Why is it that rapists and sexual predators only target women that dress so provocatively? Because Muslim women have nothing to show in regards to her body."
He is dead wrong.
While rape is more often reported here, it occurs with equal if not greater frequency and ferocity in the Middle East and South Asia. Women there suffer violent gang rapes and assaults. Even very young children are tormented by incestuous family members.
Statistical differences also involve definitions of rape. Is sex with a minor rape? Absolutely! Yet Middle Eastern countries like Yemen condone marriage with underage girls--children who are not old enough to give consent or even understand the concept. And what about marital rape? Since a Muslim wife is supposed to comply with her husband's sexual demands at all times, the issue of her consent becomes irrelevant under Sharia Law. Women can be beaten by their husbands if they refuse sex. They are forced, at times violently, to comply with their husbands' wishes.
All this occurs in countries like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, where women are required to cover up. In civilized countries on the other hand, men recognize the value of consent, a fact not altered by the aberrant behaviour of a minority.
No two cases of rape are identical. Rape may occur in situations where "signals" are mistaken as consent. At its worst, rape is of course a manifestation of criminal pathology. Here in North America we can at least be grateful that society rejects rape in any form, in any situation, and no matter what a woman chooses to wear.
According to Al-Haashim Kamena Atangana, men are so depraved that if given the opportunity, they will pounce on a woman if she is scantily clad. He requires Western women to change their attitudes in order to check the incidence of rape in North America. Yet it is really those like Atangana who need to change. They need to realize that the responsibility of rape rests entirely with perpetrators of the crime, and that women have the right to dress whichever way they like. His exhortation for everyone to embrace Sharia shows that he has no idea that sexual crimes persist, at a horrifying level, in the kind of society he advocates.
-- Dr. Hassan is an author and a former president of the Muslim Canadian Congress