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.)

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