UKIP’s Lisa Duffy is using women’s rights to attack Muslims

Her party is neither secularist nor feminist - and harms genuine women's struggles


After the collapse of technologically challenged Steven Woolfe, another Kipper has stepped forward to wear Nigel Farage’s beer-stained crown.

Lisa Duffy may be a mere councillor from Ramsay, Cambridgeshire, but she made a bold pitch today for UKIP leader, striking a Trumpish pose with a trinity of anti-Muslim policies.

Duffy called for bans on Muslim face veils, sharia courts and Islamic faith schools – telling us much about what sort of UKIP we’d see with her as grande fromage.

Now, all three proposals are likely to divide opinion, even on the Left, crossing as they do issues of religious freedom, secularism and women’s rights. But here are a few reasons why UKIP’s Duffy is selling a purple bill of goods:

1. UKIP is not a secularist party. Duffy’s party has never had a problem with Christian faith schools or cannon law, let alone called for disestablishing the Church of England.

In fact, Nigel Farage has called the UK a ‘fundamentally Christian nation’, and said UKIP ‘takes Christian values and traditions into consideration when making policy’.

He said UKIP backs Christian faith schools and opposes gay marriage on Christian grounds.

2. UKIP is not a feminist party. Far from standing up for women’s rights – whether Muslim or otherwise – UKIP’s record is a nightmare for women.

Its 2015 general election manifesto is full of Right-wing policies that would hurt women the most. On top of that, UKIP has called for scrapping paid maternity leave, laws against sexual harassment at work, and equality laws against sexist hiring polices.

Oh, and the party is brimming with sexism, from Farage on down.

3. UKIP is not for freedom or equality. Here it’s worth parsing what Duffy said today:

‘Why should I, as a white, Christian woman, effectively enjoy greater civil and human rights and freedoms than others?’

Such as the right to send your child to a faith school of your choice?

‘My ambition is that everyone, from every community, should be able to enjoy the same rights and have the same independent control over their lives and their bodies as I do.’

Except for the right to choose what to wear?

‘It is about making sure there is one law for all, rather than making an exception for a community because we are frightened of causing offence. There is no offence to be taken if all are treated equally.’

Is singling out one religion ‘treating people equally’? Are you not ‘making an exception’ of Islam? How is a simultaneous hands off approach to Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Sikhism ‘one law for all’?

When politicians bang on about women’s rights and secularism only in relation to Islam, and actively oppose women’s rights and secularism for all other religions, it’s reasonable to conclude they are simply bashing Muslims to gain votes.

Duffy is more Le Pen than de Beauvoir – more Wilders than Wollstonecraft.

And like her ideological kin on the continent, Duffy’s counterfeit politics debase the real currency.

Genuine secular feminists, who have campaigned for decades against all forms of oppression, are currently mounting a feminist critique of Theresa May’s review of sharia councils in Britain. Their careful research and informed conviction is abused and defamed from a range of sources as it is.

What Duffy and her comrades do is drive a bulldozer through real struggles for the rights of minority women the better to lead a racist party into parliament.

In doing so, they not only stoke bigotry against Muslims, but empower conservative forces among minorities, and drown out voices of dissent.

This is a double racism in a purple rosette. Oh rose, thou art sick.

Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13 

See: Feminist Dissent journal charts struggles against religious misogyny

9 Responses to “UKIP’s Lisa Duffy is using women’s rights to attack Muslims”

  1. Michael WALKER

    The title says “UKIP’s Lisa Duffy is using women’s rights to attack Muslims ”

    Women have no rights under Sharia law.
    “The Quran gives a man complete authority in marriage: “Men stand superior to women…” (Q 4.34). The Quran justifies giving this authority to the man for the following reasons:
    irst, preference is given to him by the nature of his physical ability: “God hath preferred some of them over others…” (Q 4.34).

    Second, preference is given to him by reason of his financial ability: “and in that they expend of their wealth…” (Q 4.34).

    The Islamic traditions stress that a woman should obey her husband’s commands.

    The Quran gives the husband the right to punish his wife if she goes outside the parameters that he draws for her.
    It provides men with instructions: “But those whose perverseness ye fear, admonish them and remove them into bed-chambers and beat them; but if they submit to you, then do not seek a way against them…” (Q 4.34).

    And so on.

  2. Anna Patten

    Michael Walker, it’s easy peasy to come up with religious texts that put women down. Even a long term atheist like me can come up with some.
    How about 1Timothy 2 8:15. I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. (9)I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, (10)but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. (11)A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. (12)I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. (13)For Adam was formed first, then Eve. (14)And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. (15)But women will be kept safe through childbirth, if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
    Most reasonable Muslims, yes there is such a thing, have the same attitude towards the words used in the Quran and their meaning in modern life, as do Christians and the Bible.
    Here’s the ‘Christian’ version of your line about the wife obeying her husband Ephesians 5:22-33
    22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
    Dead easy to pick up nonsense written a millennia ago to ‘prove’ your case – especially when you direct your fire only on the ‘others’

  3. Michael WALKER

    Anna Patten

    I was specifically referring to women’s rights and Muslims.

    Yes the Bible has lots of texts saying women are inferior. But Christianity has undergone MAJOR changes since then – including the Reformation – and only a few religious fanatics say women are inferior.

    “My case” is proven by the situation of women in Muslim states: women not being allowed to drive (Saudi Arabia) and the subjugation of women is regularly preached in mosques where male and female are segregated (See pictures of political meeting in UK’s 2015 GE).

    So your answer to me is to attack Christianity . How about sticking to the subject? Which is Muslim treatment of women.

  4. Anna Patten

    Actually the subject was Lisa Duffy’s using women’s rights to attack Muslims, specifically her crackpot idea that denying a woman’s right to wear the clothes of her choice will somehow liberate her, as will removing her right to choose a faith school for her child or even to have a civil case (never a criminal one) heard by a sharia council (there are no sharia courts in the UK, but there are around 85 sharia councils). And again you trot out all the old cliches about women not being allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia (whose Wahhabism is a very distorted branch of Islam), and segregation in mosques, as there is in synagogues and temples in the UK and most Christian churches in Africa and Asia. It is the usual muddle between religion and tradition, with a generous dollop of Islamophobia thrown in.

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