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True courage, seeking justice
November 15, 2006 11:18 PM   Subscribe

Mukthar Mai's blog has been making waves in the news. A young pakistani woman from a remote village, she was gang raped. Her attackers were meting out justice. In a patriarchal conservative culture like hers a woman's honor or izzat is her sole possession. Once lost, there is little left to live for. A BBC reporter transcribes her story into an Urdu language blog. Here are the first, second and the most recent excerpts of her story. To truly comprehend what her action means, consider this story of young Afghan women committing suicide by setting themselves on fire to escape from lives of sexual, physical and other abuse.
posted by infini (32 comments total)

 
The “culture” of rape that exists in India and Pakistan arises from profound social anomalies, its origins lying in the unchanging harshness of a moral code based on the concepts of honour and shame. Thanks to that code’s ruthlessness, raped women will go on hanging themselves in the woods and walking into rivers to drown themselves. It will take generations to change that. Meanwhile, the law must do what it can.

via
posted by infini at 11:19 PM on November 15, 2006


Meanwhile, the law must do what it can.

In the past few days: Pakistan appears set to amend rape laws; India passes law targeting domestic abuse.
posted by rob511 at 11:46 PM on November 15, 2006


In the past few days: Pakistan appears set to amend rape laws; India passes law targeting domestic abuse.

Let's all put our hands together and welcome these enlightened nations to the 17th century.
posted by Optamystic at 1:31 AM on November 16, 2006


Reading through all of these articles, it seems one of the biggest problems is economic. While it would not help with the sexual double standard, if women could make as much money as men, they would be more valued in poor families. In early modern England, women were lower status than men, but daughters were just as wanted as sons, because they did not cost large dowries (at least among lower class people). They did valuable work, and went out to support themselves as teenagers (often as servants). Also, they helped support their own parents in old age, just as much as their parents-in-law. So they were just as much of an investment as a son.

Dowries could be ended in India, for instance, by organisation. Foot-binding was ended in China by a slow, steady campaign. Families would agree that they would not bind their daughters' feet, and that their sons would only marry a woman with big feet. A similar agreement could be made for dowries, families promising that they would neither give nor expect dowries. This would go a long way to making girls more desirable.

Getting together businesses for women could also help widows and single women, even maybe make marriage more of a choice. It would be hard to deal with the cultural issues (even in the most modern Chinese societies, women are under pressure to marry, or their spirits cannot rest after they die), but if the economic options were there, it would be a lot easier to address the cultural origins of inequality.
posted by jb at 2:22 AM on November 16, 2006




See, every time americans get all high and mighty about those rapist ay-rabs, I get a funny taste in my mouth.

I think it's a rather good thing that when an American rapes and kills a 14-year-old, he is tried and castigated rather than ignored and tolerated.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 3:47 AM on November 16, 2006


spazzm:

The American guys who raped and murdered the Iraqi girl were not sanctioned by anyone (they knew they were in the wrong from the beginning and tried very hard to hide the evidence), they are being tried for what they did, and they will go to jail if convicted. No part of the system encouraged them to commit the crime and no part of the system supports them now.

The Pakistani guys who participated in the gang rape ordered by a Pakistani tribal council were, obviously, sanctioned by the tribal council and presumably by the tribe in general, and the crime was downplayed by everyone all the way up to the president of Pakistan, who is a bit embarrassed for his country by the situation.
posted by pracowity at 3:49 AM on November 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


So what, spazzm, we're not allowed to deplore rapes or other atrocities that take place in other parts of the world until we eradicate it from our population? That makes a lot of sense. And, I didn't notice anyone calling anyone an ayrab. What's that about?

This woman is incredibly strong, and to me she's a model for all people who, faced with horrors, stand up try to do something about it rather than pointing fingers or ignoring the problem.
posted by miss tea at 3:55 AM on November 16, 2006


No part of the system encouraged them to commit the crime and no part of the system supports them now.

Apart from sending him to a foreign country with a gun - a lawless foreign country full of people he had been taught to hate and fear?

War inevitably leads to rape. If you sanction one, you sanction the other.

I'm not saying that the rape of Muktar and the 14 year old Iraqi girl are identical, or even comparable (after all, Mutar and her family wasn't murdered).

I'm trying to say something about stones and glass houses.
posted by spazzm at 4:02 AM on November 16, 2006


So what, spazzm, we're not allowed to deplore rapes or other atrocities that take place in other parts of the world until we eradicate it from our population?

Nice straw man.
posted by spazzm at 4:04 AM on November 16, 2006


What? You seem to misunderstand what a straw man is, my friend. I will let you return to your lovely glass house. Enjoy!
posted by miss tea at 4:13 AM on November 16, 2006


I'm trying to say something about stones and glass houses.

Obviously, but I think you're messing it up. Everyone lives in a glass house and no one can criticize anything ever again if everyone everywhere is guilty by association with their country's military and what one of that country's administrations has done with it or what a few members of that military did while in uniform. I'm sorry, spazzm, but did your country participate in the invasion of Iraq? I believe it did. Then I guess you share the blame for everything that is happening there (including the rape and murder of that girl) and you must shut the fuck up about anything bad that happens anywhere else ever again.
posted by pracowity at 4:48 AM on November 16, 2006


spazzm, read this.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 4:55 AM on November 16, 2006


Having sons inevitably leads to both war and rape, if you think 'bringing them up right' will fix it, you would be fooling yourself. Of course having childing inevitably leads to peadophilia, the only thing a moral person can do is have none. Obv really init?
posted by econous at 5:18 AM on November 16, 2006


War inevitably leads to rape.

No doubt. What's the point of all that killing if you can't do a little fucking?
posted by four panels at 6:19 AM on November 16, 2006


Is there an English translation of her blog anywhere? I can't seem to find one. Any leads?
posted by bloomicy at 6:20 AM on November 16, 2006


Thus the U.S. should conquer every country where people aren't Just Like US: we must replace their savage customs with our own!
posted by davy at 6:40 AM on November 16, 2006


...other than the excerpts, I mean....
posted by bloomicy at 6:41 AM on November 16, 2006


Let's all put our hands together and welcome these enlightened nations to the 17th century.
posted by Optamystic at 1:31 AM PST


Anbd a round of applause for the British Empire for making sure they'd be ready for this big step!
posted by rough ashlar at 6:45 AM on November 16, 2006


The subject of the post, and certain aspects of the ensuing thread, make me long for the future day when highly-polished killing machines will cauterize the planet and expunge the human infestation.
posted by aramaic at 6:56 AM on November 16, 2006


There is a culture of rape in India?
posted by chunking express at 7:15 AM on November 16, 2006


JB,

I believe dowries are "illegal" in India, I'm sure it will take centuries to change that.
posted by stratastar at 7:22 AM on November 16, 2006


err change the continuing practice of dowries...
posted by stratastar at 7:28 AM on November 16, 2006


The subject of the post, and... blah blah ...the human infestation. Why not just kill yourself?
posted by econous at 7:39 AM on November 16, 2006


Why not just kill yourself?

Why on earth would I do that, when I could be responsible for the deaths of billions at the hands of my baroquely-engineered killing machines?

The best thing in life is to be the last person to die.
posted by aramaic at 7:56 AM on November 16, 2006


Previous MetaFilter link.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:39 AM on November 16, 2006


aramaic: Samsung has got you covered.
posted by LordSludge at 9:09 AM on November 16, 2006


davy: Thus the U.S. should conquer every country where people aren't Just Like US: we must replace their savage customs with our own!

Perhaps not, but I'm not sure "Letting them commit whatever horrors they want in the name of moral relativism" is necessarily the best alternative, either. Perhaps there's some happy medium.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:10 AM on November 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


...other than the excerpts, I mean....
posted by bloomicy at 6:41 AM PST on November 16


bloomicy: sorry, but I looked and couldn't find one. I was hoping to find it too.

There is a culture of rape in India?
posted by chunking express at 7:15 AM PST on November 16


chunking express: Yes, there is. And its used a means of intimidation or threat, not to the girl herself, but often to her family or father or tribe. I know of one case where the girl was gang raped because her father was a govt official who had refused someone a building permit.

shameless self link on the Blank Noise Project.
posted by infini at 12:43 PM on November 16, 2006


Haven't read it yet, but Mukhtar Mai has a book out now.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 2:37 PM on November 16, 2006


I believe dowries are "illegal" in India, I'm sure it will take centuries to change that.
posted by stratastar at 3:22 PM GMT on November 16 [+] [!]


Making something like that illegal without addressing the cultural and economic background doesn't do any good. The one child policy in China also failed because the governement failed to address the strong preference for boys, both culturally (they can carry on the family) and economically (men still make much more than women, and women are expected to support their parents-in-law, not their parents).

If you wanted to end the practice of dowries, you would have to have campaigns and organisation. Like foot-binding in China (which was waning when it was banned in 1911), you would have to have families who basically promised that their sons would not marry a woman with a dowry, to create a marriage market for dowry-less women.

This isn't impossible, and it needn't take centuries. Foot-binding was a centuries old practice which just about disappeared in less than one century (between the late nineteenth and early twentieth). In countries all over the world (including the West), women have in just one century gone from having little or no political rights to having the same political rights as men, and the speed of change is accellerating.

But if reformers don't seek to address the base issues (economics, culture), that effort to change will be almost impossible. If women can gain economic independence from men, it would go a long way to giving them cultural status and political independence. If a daughter is perceived as an economic asset - which she already is, but isn't perceived as - then she will be more desirable.

--------------------------------------------------------

Comparisons to rapes in the West don't really fit unless those rapes are legitimised by the governmental authority. What shocked people about this was not the gang-rape (the sort of thing that does happen everywhere), but that it was a gang-rape ordered by a local authority. It is the local government which has shocked the world by attempting to legitimise a horrific crime.

A better comparison would be to the sexualised torture at Abu Ghraib would be a better comparison, as government ordered and sanctioned sexual assault. Even that has been repudiated since, losing its legitimacy. (How far that repudiation is sincere and will change policy, I don't know.)

I know that Mai has won a lawsuit against the council, but has the council's decision been formally repudiated?
posted by jb at 2:08 AM on November 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


Baljit Kaur was gang raped. Her father, Sri Bant Singh, went through the official channels to get justice for her. Then the men who raped her and their relatives attacked him, beating him so badly that he had to have both arms and a leg amputated:

="http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/7338/2140/320/pun.jpg" />

To find out more and how you can help Bant Singh cover his medical bills, visit Punjab Dalit Solidarity blog.
posted by xpermanentx at 6:05 AM on November 17, 2006


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