By: Zain Khan, MPAC Policy Fellow
Last month provided a harsh reminder of the diminished status of women in our communities. The overturning of Roe v. Wade was just the tip of the iceberg, as further restrictions of rights and acts of violence have brought gender-based conflict into the forefront of debate.
Many recent headlines would have been shocking decades ago, let alone today. For example, in late June, 21-year-old Nayera Ashraf was killed by her classmate whose advances she had rejected.
These acts of violence are not random occurrences, nor are they endemic to a certain faith or country. They represent an erosion of rights and worsening bloodshed, both of which are occurring in America and abroad. Many have been trying to place blame on individuals or systems of government; however, here at MPAC, we would like to offer insight into what our values tell us on how to approach this worsening situation.
The Prophet Muhammad once said that “heaven lies at the feet of one’s mother.” While individual Muslims often embrace the connotation of this phrase, our governments and institutions must represent this ideal. Even in America, our laws and institutions are still limited in the management and prevention of gender-based violence.
In March, the President renewed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which exists to create effective responses to domestic violence and dating violence in the United States. While this act does a good job of protecting women and support for victims, it is limited in its capacity to educate people and prevent these crimes from occurring in the first place.
MPAC has continued working with leaders like Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to expand upon this Act and ensure that our values are being embraced in new legislation. Supporting programs that work to prevent these crimes and inform students in higher education are just the first steps we can take to prevent gender-based violence both domestically and abroad.
MPAC is also working with HHS to further other bills that are currently working to get passed. For example, MPAC is supporting House Resolution 547 which is calling for continued aid to Afghan women and girls after the withdrawal of American troops. Aside from that bill, we are in support of S.J. Resolution 28 which proposes an amendment to the Constitution regarding equal rights for men and women, that will ban states from denying equal rights under the law on account of sex.
Our community must be more intentional in ensuring our values are taught. Both young men and women need to be educated on how to respect and value each other in our country, which will ultimately result in creating a more equitable and united society.