November 21, 2009

In the Criminal Justice System…

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:49 pm by Superintendent

And I thought it was horrendous that abortions were neglected from a “new” health care system, that women’s issues were still not considered “mainstream” and viable enough in this sexist society. Then again, women (“women” including girls who should be playing hopscotch) around the world have a lot more to consider than if their government supports them; take for example women in Turkey, or in other countries where the practice of “honor killing” is still found. Breaking the rules, or social norms, does not simply result in a mere whipping (whipping, mere? psht) but sometimes in death.

Imagine you start to like a boy. Imagine he’s not acceptable/it’s not acceptable for you to be acting as your own agent. Now imagine that simply following your own intuition leads to your death, and not by the police or such, but by your father, uncle, or brother. They kill you to preserve the family’s “honor”. The fact there now is a murderer living freely with them does not dishonor their name, but the fact you dared to have a crush, wear a skirt, etc. was so shameful that the only remedy was  your death.

The one thing I cannot wrap my mind around at all is how does the notion of an “honor killing” exist within Islam? How are such murders justified by the Qur’an? How does one kill one’s own sister, someone you have grown up with and are supossed to love? Do these male murderers ever feel guilt or remorse? How is the “honor” of the family more important than the lives of the individuals that make up that family? And where do men feel they have the right to critique women’s “dishonorable” actions, whereas their actions are never met with death at the hands of another family member? What happens if the brother of a family defies the norm? Is he murdered to preserve the honor?

Perhaps most shocking and abhorrant part of the “honor killings” is how family members are circumventing legal restrictions on such murders to achieve the same goal. “Honor killings” being outlawed, “honor suicides” are now being pushed onto young girls; it is a system of peer pressure suicide that is leading young girls to attempt to take their own lives (sometimes succeeding, sometimes not) to restore the family honor. Even rape victims are pressured to kill themselves for this reason; they are not seen as victims of a misogynistic crime, but perpetrators of betrayal of their families. Absolutely absurd. Are women really so devalued in such countries as Turkey that any display of personal autonomy, or worse crimes committed against them, ruin the entire honor of the family? Are “disgraceful” women really viewed as parasitic viruses? Merely bodies to be used for reproduction?

“Families of disgraced girls are choosing between sacrificing a son to a life in prison by designating him to kill his sister or forcing their daughters to kill themselves,” said Yilmaz Akinci, who works for a rural development group. “Rather than losing two children, most opt for the latter option.”

There is an episode of Law and Order: SVU (another addiction of mine) that deals with the issue of honor killings… yadda yadda yadda daughter of diplomat from so-and-so falls in love with Jewish man, yadda yadda is burned alive by the brother who is protected under diplomatic immunity, yadda yadda yadda Stabler and Benson to the rescue. But the story does follow the obstinance of the father and brother that she brought this upon herself and somewhat deserved her death. Her mother however cries out at one point that this was her daughter, how could they do this?

Where are the mothers in these cases? Are they duped by the males in the family to believe these are necessary deaths? Are they unable to voice their opinions even if they oppose these? Can they even show emotion when their daughters die?

Women’s groups here [in Turkey] say the evidence suggests that a growing number of girls considered to be dishonored are being locked in a room for days with rat poison, a pistol or a rope, and told by their families that the only thing resting between their disgrace and redemption is death.

What’s interesting is that in Turkey, where “honor killings” are practiced (and feared by women), the government is gearing up for entrance and acceptance into the European Union. Such as we discussed in class, Turkey has a long way to go until they potentially might be accepted, but more important is the question of how much do we care? If “honor killings” are almost completely replaced by “honor suicides”, is this assurance enough? Is this legal loophole good enough for the EU to look the other way? Technically, it can be argued suicides are not the fault of the family and are of the girl’s own choice. But take the following into consideration:

For Derya, a waiflike girl of 17, the order to kill herself came from an uncle and was delivered in a text message to her cellphone. “You have blackened our name,” it read. “Kill yourself and clean our shame or we will kill you first.”

Derya said her crime was to fall for a boy she had met at school last spring. She knew the risks: her aunt had been killed by her grandfather for seeing a boy. But after being cloistered and veiled for most of her life, she said, she felt free for the first time and wanted to express her independence.

When news of the love affair spread to her family, she said, her mother warned her that her father would kill her. But she refused to listen. Then came the threatening text messages, sent by her brothers and uncles, sometimes 15 a day. Derya said they were the equivalent of a death sentence.

Consumed by shame and fearing for her life, she said, she decided to carry out her family’s wishes. First, she said, she jumped into the Tigris River, but she survived. Next she tried hanging herself, but an uncle cut her down. Then she slashed her wrists with a kitchen knife.


How can anyone look the other way while young girls, some too young to legally drink in America, are pressured by authority figures in their own families, their fathers and brothers who are supossed to look out for them and take care of them, to end their own lives? Is anything really worth that? Where does Muhammad say that this is what Allah requires? – Islamist Watch takes on this question, attempting to find an answer to the question of whether honor killings are the result of Islam alone. The article suggests that this is not necessarily so, as some Islamic communities have no occurances of honor killings. It also cites that there have been examples of honor killings, or the equivalent of, in other centuries and other religions, stating:

these killings are often done in the name of Allah and compared them to honor killings in the last century in Italy, which were carried out by Catholics. She notes that these killings are often done with the name of “Allah dripping from their lips.”…       By bringing in Catholic honor killings a century ago, Manji throws in the “you too” defense — the “you” being the West — and implies that such murders will fall out of favor as societies modernize and become more secular.

But is that enough? Is it enough to sit back and wait (and hope)? Isn’t that the equivalent of turning a blind eye to child labor in other countries because the United States did not formulate child labor laws until the 1930s? We can’t sit by and wait, we need to act out and stop this practice. But the question comes back to how much women are valued in our world? Will our country make it a priority to stop this in other communities? Or are we more concerned over oil and money than human rights? Only time will tell…

Check out: (A Muslim’s POV on honor killings)

and also this post:


November 19, 2009


Posted in Uncategorized at 2:44 am by Superintendent


November 6, 2009

When You Wish Upon a Star

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:21 am by Superintendent

Focus specifically on Obama’s answer, around 1:24 is where it gets good… like we’ve been discussing in class, there are universal principles, yet like An-Na-im and the President suggest (I wonder if he’s read this book) it’s important to be respectful and mindful of cultural differences. Note his actual answer: that the freedom and integrity of women are two ideas that should be upheld across the world. Alright, I’ll give you it’s a political answer of course, but President Obama fails to even engage in the question, let alone properly answer it.

Here’s a hint… the correct answer would be “We must oppose any laws that subject women to inhumane treatment and permit the violation of their rights and bodies. President Karzai is wrong to uphold this bill, and it must be abolished if we are ever going to see a degree of democracy and equality in Afghanistan. And I am not afraid to stand up for what I believe in.”

Of course, a politician can’t say that. But it’d be nice if they had a spine at times, especially when such things are going on. Women’s freedom and integrity? Well, in a cultural context one can say the women of Afghanistan are free. And if their integrity is tied to Islam and family honor (if they’re even see as humans rather than objects), then being obedient to their husbands upholds that integrity. Look, that didn’t even require a fatwa to justify. Isn’t it nauseating how easy that is?

President Obama, what about these “women”:

If Karzai ensures you these “women” have freedom and integrity, this is alright then, right? Oh, okay. I mean, not like America has the best track record. Marital rape wasn’t outlawed until 1976… but if a law such as Afghanistan’s were even suggested today, there would be not only an enormous outcry, but quite possibly the largest display of bipartisanship in order to conquer it. So why is alright that this is happening across the ocean? Since when did “culture” excuse torture? Because think about it, if you’re raped by your husband every day and night or risk legal as well as physical repercussions, that’s torture. Let’s not play around.

Before this year’s elections in Afghanistan, a new law was passed, one that had been revised and discussed from earlier in the year.

Afghanistan has quietly passed a law permitting Shia men to deny their wives food and sustenance if they refuse to obey their husbands’ sexual demands, despite international outrage over an earlier version of the legislation which President Hamid Karzai had promised to review.

Earlier drafts of the law included:

The final document has not been published, but the law is believed to contain articles that rule women cannot leave the house without their husbands’ permission, that they can only seek work, education or visit the doctor with their husbands’ permission, and that they cannot refuse their husband sex.

Accordingly, this law also in effect legalizes rape. Within the law is stated:

“It also effectively allows a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying ‘blood money’ to a girl who was injured when he raped her,” the US charity Human Rights Watch said.

Blood money can be paid for other crimes in Afghanistan and once this is done, it is as if the slate is wiped clean. Wiped clean. Except for the woman that is. The raped woman who has to deal with the mental, psychological, and physical consequences of being raped. But who really cares, right? Maybe she’ll wind up having a rapist’s child. Maybe she’ll be beaten by her husband. Maybe she’ll even be prosecuted as an adulteress. Human Rights Watch reports that innumerable Afghani judges and clerics equate rape with adultery, and thus women are not viewed as victims at all.

The Penal Code prescribes 7-15 years jail for adulterers and rapists depending on their marital status, age and other circumstances.

Does this mean a woman can go to jail for years because she was raped? How is this justice? But it’s alright, I guess, because President Obama knows that we are all different and need to respect our cultural divides. Psht. I wonder if Hillary were president if she would be so calm about this issue. Oh wait, she’s been swallowed up by the political institution too.

We’re for freedom and democracy everywhere, no? Am I mistaken? Am I not in America? Oops, did I wind up in Latvia overnight? How can we be so hypocritical as to preach that it is our moral duty to protect those in need, yet turn a blind eye to the subjugation and brutalization of women in Afghanistan? Did the fad pass? Are the books adorned with the blue burqas no longer an automatic best-seller? Though the Afghan government has passed this law, aren’t we as much to blame for standing by and allowing it to stand? It’s not even a worry about isolating conservatives in America; I doubt you can find many (sane) if any American men or women who would stand by this law and call it just.

I watch this and feel hopeless… this poor man with barely enough to constitute above poverty level living has done more for his daughter, for the victim of a rape, for her honor and for justice than the entire American government has. Four of his daughter’s rapists in jail in a government and environment that almost welcomes rape. That is some achievement. True, he has no sheep, cows, or land anymore. But this man has honor and is using everything possible to give his daughter back honor. Which is more than can be said for the President or Secretary of State.

One would hope that since Karzai is now the undisputed President of Afghanistan, this law can be repealed, as many claim it was more of a political maneuver to win conservative votes (think McCain picking Palin as his V.P. candidate… only worse). But, realistically, I do not see this law going anywhere. Women are political pawns, are objects to be used and manipulated. They are not given the status of human beings in Afghanistan, and so the country has no motivation to view this law as a violation of human rights. And since the rest of the world has been standing by shaking their heads and frowning, who is going to stop them?

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also weighed in.

“We very much hope that the draft piece of legislation is to be withdrawn,” Merkel has said.

And I’m hoping for President Obama to grow a pair. Well, as they say, when you wish upon a star…

(Doubt any Afghan women have the time to wish on stars. I wonder if they even pray for help anymore. At this rate, they’ve probably given up hope.)

November 5, 2009

They’re Beating the Women, Nancy.

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:34 pm by Superintendent

Just some West Wing clips/relevant clips related to our ongoing discussion of women’s rights in Middle Eastern countries/Islam. Just substitute your favorite country *coughSaudiArabiaorAfghanistancough* for Qumar.

Around minute 2:30 is the more relevant part to my next post.

Please forgive my West Wing analogies.