Wifebeating is one of the most spineless and horriffic crimes one can commit. In Dante's Inferno, one of the deepest layers of Hell is reserved for those who have committed crimes against their families. Domestic violence is one of those crimes that is punishable in both this life and the next.

But who's to say how much domestic violence is acceptable? Here in the United States, it is considered extremely immoral to hit one's wife no matter what the situation. Coming from a family that taught me to look down upon any forms of domestic violence, my views of domestic violence follow the consensus of denouncing and stopping this act. My father never harmed my mother, and in turn, taught me never to harm my wife when I was older. However, one of the greatest shockers is that the view of domestic violence here in the western world is not universally accepted. It's strange to hear that in some parts of the world, it's okay to beat your wife.

When visiting family in India, it was depressing to see the ways some of my male relatives treat their wives. Although they seldom do this, they feel that they are fully justified in beating their wives when the situation calls for it. The more common action is psychological oppression. These situations include disagreement in public with the male's family, and neglecting to care for the house, meals, and children. Although they do not enjoy it, many many women in India feel that beatings for these reasons are rational and justified. Society there accepts domestic violece to a certain extent. However, it is still not surprising to see a man who throws acid in his wife's face or burns her for certain infractions. Although society in India condemns such actions, it does not stop it from happening.

The situation is even worse in extremely strict Islamic nations as a result of male domination distorting and twisting religious ideals to fit their mentality. The worst corruption is in Afghanistan, where the ruling Taliban have severely restricted the rights of women. All males are now legally allowed to beat women when they feel they are out of line, which may include not fully wearing the borqa (the full covering) or appearing in public without the escort of her brother, father, or husband. This is disheartening, especially since the original goals of Islam regarding women was to improve their existence. The status of women before the introduction of Islam in the Middle East was far worse than it was after the time of the Prophet Muhammad. It's sad to see how a good ideal is entirely corrupted. The Qu'ranic verses dealing with this issue state that only after exhausting every other peaceful alternative, if one's wife is truly out of line, then only is he allowed to slap her. However, this segment has been twisted and misinterpreted to justify horrible actions.

Aga Khan III, Spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims from 1885-1957, was among the few Islamic leaders to champion improvement of the status of women. Through many Aga Khan initiatives, many women in India and Pakistan were able to gain access to higher education as well as other improvements. His belief was that a society that oppresses its women is a society that has effectively shut down half of its brain capacity, and can not progress unless this oppression does cease.

In the end, my view on women's rights and equality has changed. Women in the industrialized world should not fight to gain equality or to gain their rights. Rather, the view should be that women should fight to defend their rights and equality, showing that they are entitled rights, and will accept no less. However, women in the third world can not do this, and a real fight for equality is necessary. By first stopping domestic violence, our global society awaits a great amount of advancement.

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