Seyran Ates Resigns

Sad to read in signandsight that Seyran Ates, lawyer, writer, and human rights activist has stopped her activism as a lawyer in Berlin after being physically attacked. Below, the opening paras of the article; you can read the full article by Mariam Lau (which first appeared in Die Welt on September 4, 2006) here:


Stepping out of the fire

Having been violently attacked by the husband of one of her clients, Berlin lawyer and Islam critic Seyran Ates has closed her legal practice. A fighter for human rights resigns.

So she’s throwing in the towel. Seyran Ates, lawyer, writer, and human rights activist was attacked at the beginning of June on her way from the court house in Berlin Kreuzberg to the underground station by the screaming husband of one of her clients. “You whore”, the man shouted. “What ideas have you been putting into my wife’s head?” No one intervened when Mehmet O. lashed out at Ates, her client and another woman.

Now Ates (42) is facing the consequences. She has handed in her law licence and also her membership of the women’s rights organisation Terre de femmes. “This acutely threatening situation has brought home to me once more how dangerous my work as a lawyer is, and how little protection I have had and have as an individual,” Ates explains.

The “ideas” to which the jealous husband was referring form part of the biographical adventures that bind the writer Seyran Ates with her colleagues Necla Kelek, Serap Cileli (interview in English here) and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Long before she used the term “feminism” to describe the thing that so preoccupied her, she had had an urge for freedom that was nothing less than a small miracle. Who can explain why of all the girls from Anatolia who headed off to the Eldorado of Germany with their mothers and fathers, this one would decide to throw overboard everything she knew and had learned? Suddenly becoming appalled by things that had been utterly normal for generations – boys’ circumcision and wedding nights with blood-soaked sheets which were endured by all involved with fear and horror, beatings, sadistic excesses, forced marriages, humiliations and bad jokes? How does individuality suddenly awaken out of a collective?

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2 Responses

  1. Asuna Asunana says:

    Sad thatSaran Ates should close her practice.
    But I would like to observe re-your comments on the matter, that you have left out of the list of injuries inflicted upon women in Islamic countries, repudiation.
    And since repudiation carries a lot of misconceptions, misunderstandings& misinterpretations, it is worthwhile inserting a little note that says :
    • repudiation in islam may not be properly understoond, without an understanding of the rules of marriage in Islam, according to the strict injunctions of theQur’an (which, of course, are not necessarily reflected in the practices of Islamic countries)
    Marriage
    • Even though it is considerd to be central to the Islamic community (2: 237), and even if there is at least one mention in the Qor’an which speaks of marriage as a « solemn matrimonial alliance (Quor’an 4, 20-22) , marriage in Islam is essentially seen as a contract.(as opposed to marriage in the Bible which is seen as the inactment of Christ’s love for His people, and as such has spiritual implications).
    • The conditions of making & breaking this contract are described in great detail in several Quaranic verses (especially in chapters 2,4,58 &65 which deal with marriage & divorce)
    • Contrary to widespread beliefs (in western literarures) & widespread practices (in Islamic countries -which probably date back to well before Islam), the consent of the woman is essential for the completion of the marriage.
    • When the marriage is concluded, the woman receives the Mehr in marriage.
    • This is a financial comprensation which has to be paid to her in case of divorce.
    • The bride mehr is decided , but not necessarily paid at the time of marriage.
    • But in case of divorce, it has to be paid.
    • If no divorce happens, a husband may never have to pay the mehr. However , even in this case, he remains indebted to his wife for the payment of her mehr unless she abandons hers rights to it.
    • So the mehr – also called sdaq_ (translated as dowry in English, or douaire in French ) is conceived as a protection for women in case of divorce ; it is not as it is often mistakenly portrayed by half-witted orientalists &al., the bride price, but rather the bride compensation intended to protect her in case of divorce.
    Divorce
    • Contrary to widespread beliefs here again, both men & women may ask for divorce in Islam. Briefly three cases may occur :
    • If both man & woman consent to divorce, the husband must still pay the mehr.
    • If the husband does not consent to divorce, a woman may still ask for divorce, through a procedure called khal , by which she agrees to abandon her rights to part or all the mehr
    • If the wife does not consent to divorce, a husband may still file for divorce (tatliq) but still has to pay the mehr.
    Repudiation
    • Repudiation is imposed on a woman when a man divorces by unilateral decision, without fulfilling the two obligations of divorce : asking for consent & payment of the mehr, thus inflicting material &symbolic humiliation.
    • As such, & according to this vision, repudiation is far more widespread than in the confines of the Islamic world.
    • Ironically enough, the laws edicted in he Qor’an about marriage& divoce were precisely intended to protect women in case of repudiation, which had been an agelong practice well before Islam, from Arabia to Rome. After all, didn’t Abraham repudiate Agar & leavingt her high & dry in the middle of a desert, with a small child. For those mortals not endowed with the mystical ways of God, the Quor’an attempted to prevent this from happening, by edicting strict marriage &divorce laws. Which what the civil legislations which evolved in countries based on the judeo-christian tradition did much later.
    Ref. (Qur’an (chapter, verse) : 2( 228-37, 241) ; 4(4,19-21) ;33(51-52) ;58(1-4) ;65(1-6)
    I

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sad that x should close her practice.
    But I would like to observe re-your comments on the matter, that you have left out of the list of injuries inflicted upon women in Islamic countries, repudiation.
    And since repudiation carries a lot of misconceptions, misunderstandings& misinterpretations, it is worthwhile inserting a little note that says :
    • repudiation in islam may not be properly understoond, without an understanding of the rules of marriage in Islam, according to the strict injunctions of theQur’an (which, of course, are not necessarily reflected in the practices of Islamic countries)
    Marriage
    • Even though it is considerd to be central to the Islamic community (2: 237), and even if there is at least one mention in the Qor’an which speaks of marriage as a « solemn matrimonial alliance (Quor’an 4, 20-22) , marriage in Islam is essentially seen as a contract.(as opposed to marriage in the Bible which is seen as the inactment of Christ’s love for His people, and as such has spiritual implications).
    • The conditions of making & breaking this contract are described in great detail in several Quaranic verses (especially in chapters 2,4,58 &65 which deal with marriage & divorce)
    • Contrary to widespread beliefs (in western literarures) & widespread practices (in Islamic countries -which probably date back to well before Islam), the consent of the woman is essential for the completion of the marriage.
    • When the marriage is concluded, the woman receives the Mehr in marriage.
    • This is a financial comprensation which has to be paid to her in case of divorce.
    • The bride mehr is decided , but not necessarily paid at the time of marriage.
    • But in case of divorce, it has to be paid.
    • If no divorce happens, a husband may never have to pay the mehr. However , even in this case, he remains indebted to his wife for the payment of her mehr unless she abandons hers rights to it.
    • So the mehr – also called sdaq_ (translated as dowry in English, or douaire in French ) is conceived as a protection for women in case of divorce ; it is not as it is often mistakenly portrayed by half-witted orientalists &al., the bride price, but rather the bride compensation intended to protect her in case of divorce.
    Divorce
    • Contrary to widespread beliefs here again, both men & women may ask for divorce in Islam. Briefly three cases may occur :
    • If both man & woman consent to divorce, the husband must still pay the mehr.
    • If the husband does not consent to divorce, a woman may still ask for divorce, through a procedure called khal , by which she agrees to abandon her rights to part or all the mehr
    • If the wife does not consent to divorce, a husband may still file for divorce (tatliq) but still has to pay the mehr.
    Repudiation
    • Repudiation is imposed on a woman when a man divorces by unilateral decision, without fulfilling the two obligations of divorce : asking for consent & payment of the mehr, thus inflicting material &symbolic humiliation.
    • As such, & according to this vision, repudiation is far more widespread than in the confines of the Islamic world.
    • Ironically enough, the laws edicted in he Qor’an about marriage& divoce were precisely intended to protect women in case of repudiation, which had been an agelong practice well before Islam, from Arabia to Rome. After all, didn’t Abraham repudiate Agar & leavingt her high & dry in the middle of a desert, with a small child. For those mortals not endowed with the mystical ways of God, the Quor’an attempted to prevent this from happening, by edicting strict marriage &divorce laws. Which what the civil legislations which evolved in countries based on the judeo-christian tradition did much later.
    Ref. (Qur’an (chapter, verse) : 2( 228-37, 241) ; 4(4,19-21) ;33(51-52) ;58(1-4) ;65(1-6)
    I

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