Do Women ask for getting raped by not wearing a Burka? – 5 Feb 14

For nearly three weeks now I have been writing my blog posts about sexual harassment and rape, of course focusing on India but including some general points as well. Even though I already wrote a full post about how clothes are never the reason for rape, there were surprisingly many people who still said that women make it difficult for men to control themselves by dressing in a revealing way. Today I want to give you a counter-example for this theory: rape also happens to women who wear a burka!

Yes, this is a fact. The religion of Islam has followed the stupid thought that it could be the victim’s fault that she got raped in the first place and they imposed this horrible piece of clothing on their women. Muslim women are not allowed to show most or any of their body parts, depending on how strict – or fanatic – their family is in their religious views. Showing their hair, their regular clothing, their hands or even their face and eyes could arouse a man and get him to rape them. This curtain-like, unshaped thing is thus presented as a form of protection.

When we were in Lucknow, a city with a relatively high Muslim population, I saw a girl of maybe ten years wearing a burka. To me it seemed inhuman, as if they have put this child in prison. It is an expression of a sick society and culture, in my eyes. The basic thought behind the burka suggests that men cannot control their sexual desire when seeing a woman. Also when seeing a ten-year old? Are men really so unable to control themselves? I cannot help my feeling, even though I know that this girl won’t feel like this and neither would her mother or sister. I know that her community won’t go that deep with their thoughts in daily life but to me it looks hard and it makes me question religion in general and particularly this one once again.

It lacks complete logic, in my eyes, to first make women wear a burka, telling them it will protect them of men and then making them responsible for getting raped. Some people argue that there are very few rape cases in Muslim communities and countries. Well, in countries that follow the Sharia law of Islam, a woman still needs to prove that she was raped by providing four male witnesses that confirm they have seen her getting raped without it being her fault! Why would a woman report a rape? Families, men and women alike, want to hide rape when it happened – shame, dishonor and then even punishment are the consequences for a woman who was violated in one of the worst possible ways.

No, your clothes cannot be the reason for getting raped and covering a woman from head to toe in a black cloth does not protect her, it makes it worse.

Yes, I know that many Muslim women say their burka makes them feel safe. The question is however why do these women feel unsafe without it? The reason is simple: it is your fault, the fault of those sick-minded religious men who openly state that they cannot control a sexual urge even if the female being in front of you is a minor, a child, a six-year old girl!

Call me intolerant towards religious customs if you like but as long as things are like this, I will remain on my point: if a religion asks women to cover themselves in order to avoid sexual harassment and rape, it is wrong, it stays wrong and that religion will always be wrong.

Why do we celebrate International Women’s Day? – 8 Mar 12

Today is International Women’s Day. This is a day on which women all over the world celebrate just being women and think of those women who have done big things in the world. They have made big inventions or they have founded charities. They were the first women in big industries or companies, they are high politicians or they brought more women’s rights to their countries. But why are we actually celebrating this?

Is there an International Men’s Day? Maybe there is because of reasons of fairness but even if, I have never heard about it. There are thousands of men who could be celebrated. They have been the first on the moon, they run the most successful companies, they run the most countries and they have also founded most charities. Nevertheless the International Women’s Day is important – because it is still rare that women are on top of businesses. Because female heads of state are still not as frequent as male ones. Because there are still so many countries dominated by men and so many places in which women are suppressed. We have not reached a state of equality and this is why we the International Women’s Day is publicly so emphasized.

Obviously the reason for the inequality lies in the history of mankind. There have been developments in different societies, influenced by religion and driven by the greed for power, that have created this state which we are now in. Of course men were responsible for it, that has to be clearly said but we all, men and women, can work on getting to a state of equality.

Why do I say both genders have to work on it? Men obviously have to change their behavior towards women. In countries where women are not allowed to drive cars or to go out without their husband or another male member of the family, laws have to change! Men have to see their own faults in the same light as they see those of women and legal punishment has to be equal for both.

Additionally men should not see women only as their outer appearance. A woman is not just a body, she is not a showpiece or an advertisement for yourself. She is a person with a character, an intellect and an opinion.

Women however, too, have to realize this all. I often feel that some women believe they are free and independent and that is why they dress in very short clothes and exhibit their body. In reality however I believe they reduce themselves to their body, too. They do exactly that what men would like to see. Isn’t that in some way contributing to the inequality? On another part of the planet I want to ask women to throw off the burqa which covers their hair and head so that no other man looks at them. Why can you look at other men then?

There are so many more topics like female circumcision, the stoning of women or lower salary for women in the same jobs. The world has to change away from inequality. The reality is that women are not lower than men. They are just as intelligent and they can be even as strong. What strength they might miss in their arms, they have in their hearts. Don’t forget this! Happy International Women’s Day!

– And on a side note: Happy Holi! Today was the last day of the colour festival!

Rules for Women to Cover Body, Head or even Face – 29 Mar 09

In some Ashrams here in India they have strange rules. Especially rules as to how women should be dressed for example that she should cover her arms and even her head or hair while she is at the Ashram. But some women are just absolutely different in their nature and culture, are not used to and do not feel good if they have to be dressed in this way. You will not feel good with these rules because you do not have your freedom. Maybe you will even develop feelings of guilt because subconsciously it gives the feeling that your body is somehow wrong. Then I always think about why these women are there? Why do you choose this place for you?

I have even heard about some places in which women, who have their menstruation, have to show it with a certain sign or bracelet. Then they are treated just like untouchable and they are not allowed to do many things. This is very disrespectful for women and just ignoring it that this is a natural rhythm and cycle. In our Ashram we do not have these rules because we want everybody to feel free to live as they want.

I do not feel good with some cultures in which there is the rule for women to cover from head from toe so that nobody can see any part of her body. I am not in favour of this. I do not like it and feel that this is a way of abusing your own body. You do not love and respect your own body if you feel that you need to cover it. Do not feel guilty or bad about your body, God made it and it is wonderful. Respect your body and love it.

Today Melly arrived at the Ashram and we are very happy that she is here. We also had fun on the roof today when we were flying kites. We always did this as children and played the whole summer in this way. For me it was the first time again after 22 years. You will not see any Swamis here who fly kites but I enjoy it and that is how I do it.

Click here to see pictures of today's fun on the roof