Huma Munshi responds to George Galloway’s contemptible denial of Naz Shah’s forced marriage.
I cannot believe that Galloway is so ignorant as to allege that because Shah’s mother was present, the marriage was not forced. Galloway was an MP in Bethnal Green and Bow and now represents Bradford West, which both have large Asian communities. While forced marriage is not exclusive to south Asian cultures, he has, no doubt learned about the practice from his constituents.
Well maybe he listens only to his male constituents. I can’t see how he could make such a claim otherwise.
My family were present at my Muslim wedding ceremony in India 10 years ago, along with 500 other guests at a huge reception. I wore the ornate clothes and jewels of an Indian bride, my hands were patterned with henna; but this outward appearance did not – and does not – change the fact that this was a forced marriage in every sense. I had repeatedly told my parents that I did not want to go through with the ceremony, but to no avail. Like Shah I was emotionally blackmailed. My mother threatened suicide if I did not comply because of the dishonour it would bring on our family.
Munshi left the marriage. She was diagnosed with PTSD.
The ramifications of Galloway’s rhetoric are extremely worrying. By using Shah’s experience in this way, he puts future victims at risk. Using his platform and position as an MP he denies Shah the right to speak about her experiences by calling them into question. Shah says she was forced and emotionally blackmailed into her marriage – we should believe her. I worry about the impact Galloway’s comments will have on other survivors when they seek support. They already face the barrier of having to overcome the “honour code” which is drilled into them from childhood. The most important thing is to believe us victims of forced marriage when we say our parents were the perpetrators. Start with the premise of believing the victim – this in itself would be a revolutionary act.
As a British Asian Muslim woman it worries me hugely that someone like Galloway, in a position of power, can make these comments.
It’s so familiar, isn’t it. There are women making the claims and there are men in positions of power denying them, minimizing them, belittling them, ridiculing them.
It’s not a good look. It’s never a good look. You would think the men in positions of power would start to figure that out at some point.
Galloway seems to maintain that if Naz Shah was sixteen when she married she cannot have been coerced. 1i’m not sure whether he is more contemptible: if he is stupid enough to believe that or if he is stupid enough to believe other people are stupid enough to believe it.
I keep on thinking that I’ll give up being astonished and outraged by Galloway, & then he does something even more disgusting, & I’m astonished and outraged all over again.
And because he told off some senators a few years ago people who regard themselves as Left dismiss this sort of thing as a minor peccadillo from such a fine anti-imperialist, anti-Zionist hero.
Thanks for highlighting. By the way Sara Khan of Inspire could use some support. I see she’s getting bullied by obnoxious Jen Izakson on Twitter re Maajid Nawaz affair -I’m sure Sara’s endured far worse, but it does grate to see white apologists for Islamists self-righteously attack secular and liberal Muslim women.
Ophelia Benson says
Thanks. Iram Ramzan wrote a post about this today too.
Danny Butts says
“Naz, the chair of mental health charity Sharing Voices Bradford and mother-of-three, was forced into marrying her cousin when she just aged 15. Her biological father ran away with their 16-year-old neighbour. She spent 12 years campaigning, with the support of Southall Black Sisters, for the release of her mother – a woman imprisoned for murdering the man who beat, raped and pimped her for over ten years.”
Galloway, bestie of some of the worlds worst repressive dictators and murderers of Muslims.
Guess who’s going to win.
Its a bit long to fit on one of the …is why I need feminism signs.
Sleeper (from Sci-Blogs) says
Oh the irony. George Galloway really should know better, waving around a document from Pakistan and claiming that the information within, the age of Naz Shah at the time of the marriage, is correct.
This is the same George Galloway who fought and won a case of libel against the Daily Telegraph over documents found in Iraq that stated he had received £375,000 per year from the proceeds of the oil-for-food programme. The forensic expert hired by his lawyers later stated that in his opinions that the documents were authentic but couldn’t comment on the veracity of the information within.
I am reminded of the fabulous book Do They Hear You When You Cry? by Fauziya Kassindja. She described trying to get political asylum in the US after her father died and her uncle, now her legal guardian, tried to force her into a marriage with a man twice her age, who had 3 other wives, with genital mutilation thrown in. The immigration judge kept asking her why she didn’t just refuse to marry this man? Why didn’t her mother (who legally had no authority over her daughter) prevent it? The people of privilege are so often deliberately ignorant of the lives of those who do not have such privilege.
Phillip Hallam-Baker says
I really don’t know anyone on ‘the left’ who regards Galloway as anything more than a self promoter. The support he has in his constituency comes from the type of ‘left-wing’ splinter groups whose members are Trotskyites one minute and fascists the next and some ultra-conservative religious communities.
Galloway was expelled from the Labour Party for opposing the invasion of Iraq and specifically because he called Tony Blair a liar. Which of course he was, [Yes, I am aware that the purported reasons were different]. The reason he was able to walk all over the Senators in the hearing is simple: the committee underestimated him. They had never imagined he would show up in person and point out that their case against him was based on evidence from the same man who had provided the fake evidence that had been used as the pretext for the war.
He was an opponent of the invasion but one that was more useful to its supporters. Galloway had a habit of making vituperative statements that could easily be interpreted as being support for Saddam or the insurgents. In short he was the opponent the warmongers wanted.
Phillip Hallam-Baker says
Asking such questions in a judicial proceedings is quite justifiable. The objective of asking a question is not necessarily to trick someone, it can be to make sure that the record contains all the necessary information. This is one beef I have with US political journalism which almost never asks politicians the hard questions that people want answers to except when they are being used as a ‘gotcha’. Galloway creamed the senators in the hearing because what they considered ‘hard questions’ are the sort of thing any UK journalist would ask.
Galloway’s behavior is much worse. Whether his opponent was 15 or 16 does not change the essential character of the story and the ‘evidence’ he is producing to dispute the claim is from an entirely unreliable source.
While I would ordinarily say Galloway isn’t worth the attention, he is running for re-election as an MP and this is the opportunity to dump the creep.
Respect in Tower Hamlets dabbled in woman shaming and takfir too, though nothing on this scale.