Some of the more disturbing stories coming out of Afghanistan and Pakistan have dealt with the treatment of Women in these countries, particularly in their treatment in judicial situations.
This is a land, where it is said, fathers don't always bother to learn the names of their daughters, and yet, behind the headcoverings and burkas, a heavy burden is laid on women in that they are the living symbol of their fathers' and brothers' honor.
At times, horrendous things can happen to them because of that value. Stories of honor killings filter through the news with a dismal regularity lately, but one of the nastiest tendencies in that part of the world is the use of judicial rape. Yet another case of this has surfaced lately:
A YOUNG Pakistani woman has been kidnapped, raped and beaten by a gang of high-caste villagers because her uncle eloped with one of their relatives. She was chosen for punishment because she had recently gained a degree and was the pride of her low-caste family.
Ghazala Shaheen, 24, and her mother Mumtaz were abducted last month by men dressed in police uniforms from their home near Multan in southern Punjab.
Her shocking ordeal mirrors that of Mukhtaran Mai, 29, who became a symbol in the campaign for women’s rights in Pakistan after she was gang-raped because her 12-year-old brother had been seen with a higher-caste woman. Six men were found guilty but five later had their convictions overturned.
That case provoked an international outcry and led to moves to reform Pakistan’s Islamic rape and adultery laws which effectively criminalise rape victims.
Last week human rights campaigners said Shaheen was unlikely to see her attackers brought to justice because President Pervez Musharraf had failed in an attempt to repeal the Hudood Ordinance, which requires four male Muslim witnesses to support a rape charge. If the accused is acquitted, the victim becomes liable to prosecution for adultery. (s0urce)
The old expectation was for women so abused was that they should commit suicide, and thus remove the stigma from their family, but in this day and age, some women are refusing to to this, and attention has been drawn to their plight.
There have been other incidents, such as the threatening of aid agencies who wanted to hire local women to work for them, or threatening the women who were hired with death.
Abuse of women was a trademark of the Taliban, and there were many horror stories that seeped out of Afghanistan, including the forbidding of women to receive an education, and women who were beaten because the religious police thought they walked too loudly And women were also stoned.
The desire to keep women in their place is still a factor. A recent murder of a woman in Afghanistan is a case in point:
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Gunmen riding motorcycles shot dead the head of a women's department in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar on Monday, a security official and a relative said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the shooting of Safia Ama January Taliban insurgents have killed numerous government officials as part of their war against the government and foreign forces supporting it.
Ama Jan was on her way to work, getting into a car outside her house, when the gunmen struck, said her nephew, who identified himself as just Farhad.
"She died on the spot," he told reporters.
Farhad declined to speculate on the identity or motive of the gunmen, except to say: "We had no personal enmity with anyone."
Ama Jan had served as the head of the province's women's affairs department since shortly after U.S.-led troops overthrew the Taliban in 2001.
A security official said no arrests had been made and an investigation had been launched.
The United Nations condemned the killing."UNAMA is appalled by this senseless murder of a woman who was simply working to ensure that all Afghan women play a full and equal part in the future of Afghanistan," said U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan spokesman Aleem Siddique. (source)
Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan and Somalia are all places where women's activities, rights, and protections under the law are all highly restricted, yet surprisingly there is little outcry about this in the West. It is one of the mysteries how on one hand feminists can seek out people like the president of Iran to come and give political talks, and on the other hand, not rally at the plight of the women under his rule, when they bristle at the very suggestion that men might be more gifted in certain endeavors here in this country, to the point of forcing people out of jobs for dare speaking it.
Some ironies are bitter, like the taste of blood in the mouth.