Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Honor Diaries

War on Girls, yep - it is horrific and out of sight...

Now that Western forces – along with Western media – have withdrawn from Afghanistan, we don’t hear enough about girls’ and women’s struggles in the Muslim world. That’s too bad, because in many places, things are getting worse.

In Pakistan, the Council of Islamic Ideology, a powerful body that advises the government and parliament on legal issues, has made several devastating pronouncements. It ruled that under sharia law, rape victims can’t use DNA evidence alone to prove their case; instead, they have to rely on the evidence of four witnesses. It wants the government to change the law that says a man must get the consent of his first wife before he takes a second one. It also says says the ban on child marriage (the legal age for girls is 16) is un-Islamic.

Welcome to the 12th century.

9 women who feature in a powerful new documentary called Honor Diaries. All are activists with roots in m"Hammedist world. Their aim is to call attention to the immense challenges faced by women in Muslim-majority countries, especially honour violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

Most Western feminists are curiously silent about these issues. It seems they’d rather spend their time warning about “rape culture” and denouncing the misogyny, abuse and discrimination that permeate our society (or so they claim).

And not without reason. People who speak out about abuses in cultures other than their own – particularly white people – tend to get denounced as racist. Yet: “This isn’t about brown women or white women. This is about human rights.”

Honour crime – committed against a woman who has brought shame to the family – exists in Sikh and Hindu cultures, as well as Muslim ones. Such crimes draw much lighter sentences, and most “honour” crimes are really coverups for rape, domestic abuse, inheritance disputes or punishment of female independence.

Disturbing statistics aren’t hard to find. In Egypt, for example, 90 per cent of women have had their genitals cut. More than half the population still support the practice (even though it is illegal), and certain hard-line clerics encourage it in God’s name.

In the Palestinian territories, at least 27 women and girls are thought to have been killed in honour crimes last year, as reported in the Washington Post. One was a a young mother of six whose body was found hanging in an olive tree.

Not surprisingly, these pathologies have made their way in various measures to the West. In Britain, about 4,000 women and girls have been treated for genital mutilation since 2009, according to figures obtained by the British Broadcasting Corp. Campaigners say the public doesn’t grasp how big the problem is. According to London Mayor Boris Johnson: “This is a crime basically outlawed in the early-mid 1980s and yet, unlike France, we have not had one single successful prosecution for what is unquestionably a completely barbaric crime."

In Canada, honour killings are rare but not unknown, and girls from honour cultures are frequently in conflict with their families. In Ottawa, a mother and son from Pakistan were recently convicted of threatening to kill the family’s daughter, along with her white, non-Muslim boyfriend. In St. John’s, a Saudi man who tried to choke his 30-year-old daughter (she wanted to marry a non-Muslim) was sentenced to probation, on condition that he leave the country.

But police and schools don’t always know how to respond to these disputes.

Predictably, Honor Diaries has been denounced as Islamophobic by people who see it as an attempt to smear Islam. Ms. Raza argues that it is not a film about religion, but about destructive cultural practices.

Pic - "Failing to acknowledge this reality not only silences victims of honor violence globally, but emboldens the increasingly aggressive political Islamists in our midst, whose ultimate goal is to silence us all."