Skip to content

An Interview with Dr. Katherine Bullock on Domestic Violence in All Communities, Underreporting of Domestic Violence, Vilification and Stereotyping of Muslims, and Efforts to Halt Domestic Violence (Part Two)

April 8, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 22.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Eighteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: April 8, 2020

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2020

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,884

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Katherine Bullock received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Toronto (1999). She is a Lecturer in the Department of Political Science, University of Toronto at Mississauga. Her teaching focus is political Islam from a global perspective, and her research focuses on Muslims in Canada, their history, contemporary lived experiences, political and civic engagement, debates on the veil, and media representations of Islam and Muslims. Her publications include: Muslim Women Activists in North America: Speaking for Ourselves, and Rethinking Muslim Women and the Veil: Challenging Historical and Modern Stereotypes which has been translated into Arabic, French, Malayalam, and Turkish. Bullock is President of Compass Books, dedicated to publishing top-quality books about Islam and Muslims in English. She is past President of The Tessellate Institute, a non-profit research institute in Canada, and of the Islamic Society of North America- Canada.  She served as editor of the American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences (AJISS) from 2003 – 2008. She was Vice President of the North American Association of Islamic and Muslim Studies (NAAIMS) from 2013-2017. Originally from Australia, she lives in Oakville, Canada with her husband and children. She embraced Islam in 1994. She discusses: domestic violence studied in the academic literature; national averages; comparing and contrasting with Muslim households; underreporting; common customs and habit, and socialization, as forces for the justification of domestic violence; patriarchal customs existing in Muslim communities, too, and influencing violence rates; stereotyping and vilifying of Muslims; bad actors and bigotry in media; main tropes of Muslims; consequences for women and men victims of domestic violence; religious consequences for women and men victims of domestic violence; recommended authors and organizations, and speakers.

Keywords: Canada, Canadian Muslims, domestic violence, Islam, Katherine Bullock, Muslims, prejudice, stereotypes, vilification, violence.

An Interview with Dr. Katherine Bullock on Domestic Violence in All Communities, Underreporting of Domestic Violence, Vilification and Stereotyping of Muslims, and Efforts to Halt Domestic Violence: Past Chair, Islamic Society of North America-Canada (ISNA-Canada); Lecturer, Political Science, University of Toronto at Mississauga; Past President, Tesselate Institute; President, Compass Books (Part Two)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: With some of the identity issues, and some of the generational issues covered for us, I want to focus more on the serious issue plaguing all/most societies and all/most religious communities, as all/most religious communities remain embedded in larger cultures/are the larger cultures and contribute in a dynamic interplay to cultures in general. I want to move into some of the mutually accepted subject matters considered relevant to the Canadian Muslim communities’ landscapes. As laid out in Part One, we will focus on internal issues and then external issues, followed by some possible solutions to both types of issues. Any form of social continuity will require some breakage for change in it. This will become a point in some of the questions. Our focus in this commentary is Canadian Muslim sub-cultures for this particular internal issue. The serious issue called domestic violence. To define terms, what are the forms of [domestic] violence studied within the literature and commentaries on domestic violence within Canadian Muslim households?

Dr. Katherine Bullock: All forms of family violence are studied in the literature – spousal abuse; child abuse; elder abuse; abuse by extended family members; and femicide, erroneously called “honour killings.”  Some include forced marriage and female genital mutilation as forms of violence against women in the family.  Studies of family violence in the Muslim community point out that sometimes the perpetrators are women from the extended family.

[See for example, Pamela Cross, “Violence Against Women: Health and Justice for Canadian Muslim Women,” Canadian Council of Muslim Women, 2013; Shirin Shabnam Tohin, “Combating Spousal Violence in the Muslim Community of Canada: An Overview in the context of the Province of Ontario,” IOSR Journal Of Humanities And Social Science, Volume 20, Issue 11, Nov. 2015, pp. 26-37]

2. Jacobsen: What are the national averages of the aforementioned domestic violence? 

Bullock: According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, more than one quarter (26%) of all violent crimes reported in 2016 were due to family violence. Women and girls made up nearly 67% of family violence victims.  In addition, the agency reports that 79% of police reported intimate partner violence is against women.

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/stop-family-violence/problem-canada.html

3. Jacobsen: How does this compare/contrast with the Canadian Muslim household average? 

Bullock: Statistical breakdowns like this are not common.  Tohin, mentioned above, reported that “[r]ecent research looking at Muslim marriage and divorce in North America found that approximately one-third of the women interviewed had experienced abuse within their marriage, which is at a similar rate to women in the general population.”

4. Jacobsen: How much underreporting might exist of violence against wives and violence against husbands in these Canadian contexts?  

Bullock: The Public Health Agency of Canada website referred to above points out that it is well known that “all forms of family violence” are underreported.  Muslims are no different in these regards from the wider population.

5. Jacobsen: What are the standard interpretations of the Islamic scriptures taken as Islamic points against domestic violence? Those who argue against domestic violence in all its forms.

Bullock: Before I answer this question, I need to point out that very few people actually do things because of “scripture,” even “interpretation of scripture.”  People tend to act based on common customs and habits picked up through family, school and societal socialization, plus their very own individual emotions and psychology.  Understanding the connection between a religious text’s teachings, its historically embedded interpretations, and people’s social location is complex and important.  Even if I said Islamic scripture is interpreted for and against domestic violence, this only superficially relates to why people do or do not hurt each other.

The Qur’an quite clearly states that husbands and wives should live together “on a footing of kindness [4:19]. ” Further, it addresses the husbands telling them: “And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them – perhaps you dislike a thing and God makes therein much good [4:19].”

Husbands and wives are described in the Qur’an as “garments for each other. [2:187].”  What is a garment?  It is something that beautifies, covers and protects.  This says that husbands and wives should beautify and protect each other.

The Prophet Muhammad is known to have treated all his wives very well and did his best to stop violence against women.  He told his people: “[Men who hit their wives] are not the best among you.”  He asked the men, “Could any of you beat his wife…and then lie with her in the evening?”  [Bukhari, Muslim and Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 11, Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah)]

6. Jacobsen: What are the standard interpretations of the Islamic scriptures taken as Islamic points for domestic violence? Those who seek to justify violence in families and in the home with Islamic scriptures.

Bullock:  As you mentioned above, people from all religions and cultures experience and perpetrate family violence, May God protect us and give us ease.  Patriarchal customs exist in Muslim communities too.  The way around Qur’anic teachings on women’s equality and treating them well that I have referred to above is not by condoning violence against women per se; i.e. not by saying “religion allows us to be violent against women,” rather by interpreting a few difficult verses that are mis-read to give males authority over females; thus hitting is seen as a form of discipline, especially in one verse in particular that on a superficial reading seems to allow men to beat their wives [4:34].

Yet, the Islamic scholarly consensus from the earliest days has not permitted what today we think of when we say “domestic violence.”  Even where they allowed the idea of the husband having authority over wives, (which has been true in many other religions and societies as well, including Christianity), the scholars were emphatic that any such “discipline” was not allowed to leave a bruise, nor touch the face.  It was to be the last in a series of steps and enacted for only a limited number of reasons.  This is not family violence as we know it today.  In communities where wife-beating occurs, it is due to illiterate superficial scriptural “interpretations,” and more truly, patriarchal societal customs and habits that some men erroneously think gives them the license to do whatever they want to maintain power and control in the family.

7. Jacobsen: How are those who stereotype and vilify Canadian Muslims seeking to use cases and statistics of domestic violence to paint all Muslims as primitive, abusive, and fundamentally violent along with a series of other tropes?

Bullock: Stereotypes and vilification of Canadian Muslims use cases of domestic violence to buttress a concept that Muslims do not act as individuals.  The negative stereotype assumes that Muslims are like computers controlled by software that programmes them to be violent.  If an atheist Canadian beats his wife, it’s due to his individual mental health issues; but if a Canadian Muslim beats his wife, it’s due to his religion/culture.

8. Jacobsen: Following from the previous question, who are those bad actors? How are these warpages of reality strained on social media, the internet, television, and movies to justify bigotry? 

Bullock: Mainstream television and movies contribute to these negative stereotypes in two ways. First is by the absence of Muslim characters in normal situations doing normal or positive things.  The CBC’s sitcom, Little Mosque on the Prairie, which featured a main character wearing hijab; Grey’s Anatomy, a hospital drama that introduced a hijabi doctor in Season 14, 2018, and Quantico, which introduced a hijabi FBI agent (2015-2018), are exceptions that prove the rule.

The second way is the presence of Muslim characters who are usually always associated with terrorism or violence.  Producers could do a lot more in righting this imbalance. For instance, the UK series, The Bodyguard, from 2018, a police-thriller about a bodyguard protecting Britain’s prime minister from a terrorist attack contained a potentially sympathetic portrayal of a hijabi forced into suicide bombing.  [Spoiler alert here] but in the end, she turns out to be the mastermind of the whole thing.  The viewer moves instantly from empathy to hatred, and the message is reinforced that Muslims, male or female, are always violent and can trick us into sympathy.  It was a horrendous twist, and a lost opportunity, that is extremely damaging to Muslims in the West.

9. Jacobsen: What are some of the main stereotypes, tropes, racist assumptions of all Muslims as Arab, prejudicial assertions of all Muslims as latent terrorists, and so on, feeding into these cardboard cutout views of the dynamics of the lives of Canadian Muslims? How are these, furthermore, one more example of the negative valences towards self-identified, or simply even other-identified, Muslims in this country?

Bullock: In the earliest days of Christian apologetics against Islam, Arabs/Muslims were considered to be Ishmael’s descendants, and Ishmael was characterized as a “wild man.”  They were called “Saracens.” St. John of Damascus, the first Christian apologist, who was born and raised in Damascus around 675/6, (his father, and then himself held a high hereditary public office for the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik) argued that “Saracen” meant “not of Sarah,” being born from Hagar, the handmaiden, and not Sarah, the wife of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him).  This characterization of the Arabs/Ishmaelites/Muslims as “wild” has remained in Western culture ever since as the dominant trope.

10. Jacobsen: What are the psychological and physical, and familial, consequences for women and men victims of domestic violence here?

Bullock: Survivors of domestic violence have to cope with lifelong traumas, both physical and mental scars.  I know some women who have managed to pull themselves and their families out of abusive situations and re-built their lives.  Their stories of resilience are inspiring.

11. Jacobsen: What are the religious consequences for women and men victims of domestic violence here? 

Bullock:  The main religious consequence is the deformation of religious practices that are meant to provide people with safe, secure, peaceful, and happy spaces in which to live their lives and observe their spiritual devotions.

12. Jacobsen: Any recommended authors, organizations, or speakers on this subject matter?

Bullock: Muslim communities across Canada are attempting to address and halt domestic violence.

Other organisations trying to address this issue include:

Other authors on this topic:

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Dr. Bullock.

Bullock: Thank you for the opportunity.  Best wishes to all the readers during this unprecedented time of lockdown and illness.  May you all stay well and safe.

References

AboutIslam & Newspapers. (2018, September 17). Katherine Bullock: Woman Leading Canada’s Largest Muslim Group. Retrieved from https://aboutislam.net/muslim-issues/n-america/katherine-bullock-woman-leading-canadas-largest-muslim-group/.

Baig, F. (2018, July 6). How ISNA-Canada’s 1st female chair hopes to overcome a major scandal. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/isna-seniors-forum-1.4734877.

Bullock, K. (2019, October 28). ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ left us with enduring stereotypes. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/i-dream-of-jeannie-left-us-with-enduring-stereotypes-119279.

Bullock, K. (2019, September 23). How the Arabian Nights stories morphed into stereotypes. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/how-the-arabian-nights-stories-morphed-into-stereotypes-123983.

Bullock, K. (n.d.). Katherine Bullock, Ex-Christian, Canada. Retrieved from www.thedeenshow.com/katherine-bullock-ex-christian-canada/.

Hamid, M. (2018, September 17). Katherine Bullock, the new chair of ISNA. Retrieved from https://themedium.ca/features/katherine-bullock-the-new-chair-of-isna/.

Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, October 8). An Interview with Dr. Katherine Bullock. Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/bullock.

The University of Toronto Mississauga . (2020). Katherine Bullock. Retrieved from https://www.utm.utoronto.ca/political-science/katherine-bullock.

The University of Toronto Mississauga. (2018, August 2). UTM political science lecturer chosen as first female head of major Muslim non-profit. Retrieved from https://www.utm.utoronto.ca/main-news/utm-political-science-lecturer-chosen-first-female-head-major-muslim-non-profit.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Past Chair, Islamic Society of North America-Canada (ISNA-Canada); Lecturer, Political Science, University of Toronto at Mississauga; Past President, Tesselate Institute; President, Compass Books.

[2] Individual Publication Date: April 8, 2020: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/bullock-two; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2020: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Dr. Katherine Bullock on Domestic Violence in All Communities, Underreporting of Domestic Violence, Vilification and Stereotyping of Muslims, and Efforts to Halt Domestic Violence (Part Two) [Online].April 2020; 22(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/bullock-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2020, April 8). An Interview with Dr. Katherine Bullock on Domestic Violence in All Communities, Underreporting of Domestic Violence, Vilification and Stereotyping of Muslims, and Efforts to Halt Domestic Violence (Part Two). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/bullock-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Dr. Katherine Bullock on Domestic Violence in All Communities, Underreporting of Domestic Violence, Vilification and Stereotyping of Muslims, and Efforts to Halt Domestic Violence (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 22.A, April. 2020. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/bullock-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2020. “An Interview with Dr. Katherine Bullock on Domestic Violence in All Communities, Underreporting of Domestic Violence, Vilification and Stereotyping of Muslims, and Efforts to Halt Domestic Violence (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 22.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/bullock-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Dr. Katherine Bullock on Domestic Violence in All Communities, Underreporting of Domestic Violence, Vilification and Stereotyping of Muslims, and Efforts to Halt Domestic Violence (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 22.A (April 2020). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/bullock-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘An Interview with Dr. Katherine Bullock on Domestic Violence in All Communities, Underreporting of Domestic Violence, Vilification and Stereotyping of Muslims, and Efforts to Halt Domestic Violence (Part Two)‘In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 22.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/bullock-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘An Interview with Dr. Katherine Bullock on Domestic Violence in All Communities, Underreporting of Domestic Violence, Vilification and Stereotyping of Muslims, and Efforts to Halt Domestic Violence (Part Two)‘In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 22.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/bullock-two.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Dr. Katherine Bullock on Domestic Violence in All Communities, Underreporting of Domestic Violence, Vilification and Stereotyping of Muslims, and Efforts to Halt Domestic Violence (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 22.A (2020):April. 2020. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/bullock-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Dr. Katherine Bullock on Domestic Violence in All Communities, Underreporting of Domestic Violence, Vilification and Stereotyping of Muslims, and Efforts to Halt Domestic Violence (Part Two) [Internet]. (2020, April 22(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/bullock-two.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

 

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: