Germany: Abuse of Muslim women

Notice the title of the article: "Abuse plagues Muslim women in Germany". It's very common to use the passive when you don't want to say who's being accused. In this case, the use of words, both the passive and the idea of "plague" point to a natural disaster.

Abuse plagues Muslim women in Germany

Imagine a home with so much pressure to cook, clean and take care of younger siblings that you don’t have enough time to do homework. Imagine your parents forbidding you from going out to socialize with friends from school. Imagine running away from home at 17.

This was Leyla’s life. Born in Turkey near the Syrian border, Leyla* came to Germany at the age of six with her mother and siblings to join her father, one of the many so-called "guest workers" invited by the German government during the 1960s and 1970s. (*The women interviewed for this story spoke on condition of anonymity for reasons of safety.)

Leyla excelled in German schools, but life at home was overshadowed by her parents' loveless marriage, verbal abuse from her father and few demonstrations of affection. It got worse when her older sister was married off and left home, and Leyla was suddenly thrust into the role of housekeeper and babysitter.

Then, after years of cleaning floors, cooking dinners and finding just enough time to finish a bit of homework, Leyla had enough of feeling like a slave and went to live in a shared house set up specifically for Turkish girls with troubled family lives.

Life away from her family was better, but it turned out her nightmare was only beginning. Leyla would shortly become one of hundreds of immigrant women in Germany — many from Muslim backgrounds — subjected to abuse, forced marriages and other violent family situations against their will.

After months of living on her own — and a chance to concentrate on school work and even have a social life — Leyla’s parents asked her to join them on a trip back to Turkey. “Your grandparents are sick,” they told her. “Come to see them one last time.”

Against the advice of friends and her social workers, Leyla acceded and joined her parents on the long drive to Turkey.

“As soon as we left my mother took away my passport,” said Leyla, recounting her story at a cafĂ© in one of Berlin’s Turkish neighborhoods. “They told me Germany was now dead to me.”

Religion, culture, tradition

While Leyla managed to avoid a fate preordained by her family, it is impossible to know how many others are left in violent situations with few means of escape. An editor for the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet has estimated that 50 percent of Muslim women in Germany have been victims of domestic violence. In addition, forced marriages often turn into violent homes.

At the heart of the matter is a complicated dance between Germany’s inability to fully embrace immigrants, many of whom were invited from Turkey to fill labor shortages, and the immigrants' unwillingness to let go of behaviors and traditions that appear brutal to mainstream Western Europeans. [The writer can't bring herself to say that forced marriage and domestic abuse are actually brutal. Thus, they only "appear" brutal]

Critics of Germany's record with guest workers say the country has been standoffish with the new residents, leaving them clinging to their homeland’s culture for a sense of familiarity and belonging, a phenomenon particularly true among Muslim immigrants. Many Germans, meanwhile, blame the immigrants for holding on to their old ways and say the responsibility for their poor situation lies mostly with the guest workers for not making more efforts to adapt to German norms and customs.

“You can’t say [these attitudes against women are] because of one specific thing,” said Seyran Ates, a Berlin lawyer of Turkish descent who focuses on women’s rights. “Many families, who marry their children off early, want to prevent sex outside of marriage. Some are worried that here in Germany their kids will take a German partner or a partner of another nationality so they marry their kids very quickly with another immigrant or a person here they know.”

“It is an absolute mix of religion, culture and tradition,” said Ates, who was born into a Muslim family.

(the article is rather long and has 2-parts. I just brought parts of it, but you can read the rest on the MSNBC site)

Source: MSNBC (English)

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