Woman, Child deported under Muslim Sharia Law, The Chronicle


Date: January 1, 1970
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The pending deportation of an Asian woman and her child is fought by a local women?s organisation which has condemned the move as an infringement of the woman?s constitutional rights. The woman was accused of prostitution by a Muslim sect that practices Sharia Law.
The pending deportation of an Asian woman and her child is fought by a local women?s organisation which has condemned the move as an infringement of the woman?s constitutional rights. The woman was accused of prostitution by a Muslim sect that practices Sharia Law.

This article may be used to:
  • Explore the portrayal of women.
  • Look at sources of news.
  • Illustrate how sub-editing impacts on a story.

Trainer’s notes

Perspective

This story is an example of how the media often covers women in a religious context: women as victims of religious persecution or oppression.

The young woman, whose voice is silent in the story, has reportedly been labelled a ‘prostitute’ under Sharia Law. Facing deportation along with her child, she has sought refuge and assistance from a Malawian women’s group.

Fauzia Sattar is portrayed as a woman who is at the ‘mercy’ of men. She reportedly faces deportation because of a ‘love affair’ which ended leading to her being branded a ‘prostitute’ by a Muslim religious sect; she is under the custody of her brother; and her fate is in the hands of a male immigration officer.

This story highlights the link between religion, equality and human rights. It should be noted that this link is made by the voice of a woman from a women’s rights organisation. This illustrates how the perspective from which an issue is reported depends on who is sourced, and the importance of  journalists accessing civil society as credible sources on gender justice and rights issues.

Sources

The story, however, is told only through the voice of the director of the women’s organisation. What’s missing in the story are the voices and perspectives of women and men in the religious communities, as well as women and men who are not part of this community. It is not clear from the story now whether the only challenge to the imposition of Sharia on the young woman and her threatened deportation, is from the Malawian women’s group, or if there are protests from other sectors in the society. Interviews with immigration officials, legal experts and officials from the High Court which ruled against the woman’s deportation also would give the story more depth and a diversity of views.

Missing information

The story is poorly edited and there are several issues where more information is needed. By interviewing the Muslim sect referred to, legal experts and officials in the High Court, the reporter could have given more clarity on the imposition and use of Sharia in a country that is not Islamic.

Interviews with immigration officials would have provided insight on the reasons for the woman’s deportation: is it indeed due to the imposition of Sharia, or is it related to her residency status in the country?

To put the issue into a context, the reporter should have provided information on whether this is the first case of its kind in the Southern African nation; and background on the experiences and reality of Muslim women in Malawi.

Training exercises

Exercise one: Read the case study and discuss the following

  1. How are the women portrayed ? How are the men portrayed?
     

  2. How is the women’s group portrayed?
     

  3. What image of Muslims is conveyed?
     

  4. The story is told from whose perspective?
     

  5. What are the human rights issues raised?
     

  6. What approach is taken to tell the story?
     

  7. What different approach could be taken?

Exercise two: Edit and re-write sentences and paragraphs which are not concise or clear in meaning. There are several grammatical errors and also inconsistency in style (e.g. when Catherine Munthali, the women’s organisation director is first introduced, only her surname is used and her title is not given. Her full name and title are only given much later in the story).

 

 


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