Sunday 1 June 2014

Opinion: This violent denigration and murder of girls and women must stop

Sudan: Merian Ibrahim – Apostasy & Adultery
The week ended with some good news for women, Meriam Ibrahim of Sudan who was sentenced to death for apostasy and 100 lashes for the additional charge of adultery for contracting an ‘illegal’ marriage to a Christian is to be released. [BBC News]
If not for the fact that she was with child and about to be put to bed, if is very likely that the political expediency of Sharia law might have exacted the judgement on the woman. Yet, they were ready to punish the lady as soon as her child was weaned.
In the 21st Century, the state must never have any influence on what an adult chooses to believe, the idea that religious beliefs should be viewed as congenital; that is, passed down from parent to child with the child not having any option to rethink, to reason, to question or to abandon the faith of their ancestors and adopt new experiences and faiths when they reach adulthood is utterly anachronistic and archaic.
Religious politics
The politicisation of religion and the conflation of traditions and beliefs into a bizarre culture underpinned by unacceptable moral laws that denigrates and violates the human rights of the child, our womenfolk, the poor and the deprived of power and opportunity is sometimes used by a Machiavellian elite to oppress and subdue, whilst those same laws rarely apply to the ruling class.
There is every reason for every free and liberated human being to join voices to ensure that the last vestiges of these rotten abuses of human rights are expunged from the statute books of every state that subscribes to blasphemy, apostasy and lèse majesté laws.
Pakistan: Farzana Parveen – Abduction and ‘Honour Killing’
Then in Pakistan, Farzana Parveen was bludgeoned to death by her own family members that included her father, in front of a Pakistan court, in public and with the police allegedly standing by as disinterested onlookers. [BBC News]
That Farzana at 25 had to go to court at all is unbelievably atrocious, she was appearing with her husband to fight her family’s claim that she had been abducted and had entered into a marriage against their wishes.
It makes you wonder when, if ever, women do reach adulthood and a status of independent means and personal responsibility in Pakistan.
A dereliction of duty
Yet, the courts were ready to hear this case, and knowing how volatile such issues are, the system failed to provide the necessary security and essential safeguards  to keep the warring factions apart whilst guaranteeing a modicum of safety for the defendant who was under duress from the law to defend herself.
Too many questions arise about the unfortunate culpability of the court, the presence of such laws in Pakistan’s criminal justice system, the indifference of the police who probably ascribe to the untenable culture of egregious abuse of women in incomprehensibly dishonourable crimes labelled ‘honour killings’.
There is absolutely no honour in the abuse of women, the imposition of marital duress on women against their wishes or the killing of such women that decide to disregard the wishes of others as they pursue their own happiness.
Do women have any rights?
The happiness of relations cannot automatically be the happiness of an individual and any system, law, tradition, culture or view that trammels the pursuit of personal happiness as a fundamental human right must be excoriated and dragged with all possible force into civilisation.
The fallout of this heinous public murder committed with impunity, was exacerbated by another revelation from Farzana Parveen’s husband who alleges he killed his first wife in order to fulfil his affections for Farzana. It makes you wonder whether women in Pakistan are only allowed to draw breath at the mercy of ‘greater’ men for whom they exist to give pleasure or be disposed of.
Where girls threaten a rotten patriarchal system
Surely, this should not be the case for a country that gave us the whirlwind political force of Benazir Bhutto, who I dare say was also disposed of by the Taliban patriarchy in 2007 and with us in England is Malala Yousafzai who the Taliban were ready to dispense of because she clamoured for the right for the education of girls. She was only 14 when they shot her.
These stories are however the ones that made the headlines, there is no telling how many more heinous crimes are committed against minorities in Pakistan’s legal terms and elsewhere without any intervention of the law for justice and the sad acquiescence of the system in supporting perpetrators of these abuses.
The spotlight is on religion, women rights and countries where human beings like us are treated as less than human with no respect for their person, their space, their ideas, their decisions, their happiness or their lives.
India: Gang rape and murder
Boys will be boys, some would say about some events in India that seems to have linked feral sexual appetite with a level of sadistic psychopathy that defies explanation. [BBC News]
Not only were the girls gang-raped by beasts in human skin, they were murdered and left hanging after the rapists had had their evil way with them.
Whenever the perpetrators of this rotten crime are caught as they should be, there is no punishment that can full atone for what they did, however, we should be in no doubt, these people are beyond rehabilitation and they do not belong in the openness of any society.
Unaffected establishment
What compounds this latest in a litany of gang rapes in India [7 publicised since December 2012] is the fact that the authorities are almost unconcerned and politicians seem to handle the matter with such levity that baffles the mind. They seem to be so disconnected from the realities of the victims as to be lacking in empathy and bereft of sympathy.
These gang rapes have become an inconvenience rather registering as a crime wave that needs to be checked and handled with the severity of the law and compassionate humanity.
In a land rich with cultural history that has produced remarkable world leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and most especially, Indira Gandhi, whilst many have sexual needs, it needs to be clear that sexual favours should only ever be acquired with consent, where that is not the case, the perpetrators are no better than animals and one is minded that those rapists be put down like dogs.
Nigeria: Pricing the woman
Back in Africa, we arrive in Nigeria where having enjoyed the humour of the Bride Price App we must see a more serious point to the issue. Beyond the sexism and the objectification of womenfolk when about to contract a marriage, we see the commodification of women when attributes, achievements and looks are the fundamental factors deciding the bride price above the personhood and humanity of the woman.
We are all to a greater or lesser extent affected even if subliminally by this mindset and it is time for us to review our motives and objectives when we are to address these issues.
Nigeria: #BringBackOurGirls – Day 48
48 days since the 14th of April, 2014 and we are still crying out #BringBackOurGirls with a development that has included the capture of Hassan Ali, a Boko Haram leader; we learnt from him that he had already married two of the abducted Chibok girls. [Leadership Newspapers]
Nothing ever in this world can ever justify the forcible abduction of girls into marital slavery, not to talk of the being in joined in unholy matrimony with Boko Haram brigands. At best, this is a case of aggravated rape.
These abductions are not new, but realising what has happened to the abducted makes for seriously horrific reading. Hassan Ali besides murdering his father and uncle sanctioned the killing of his own sister when after abduction she refuse to become a 'pleasure unit' of another Boko Haram leader.
Innumerable atrocities
Everything about Boko Haram points to something Voltaire said a few centuries ago, “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.
You have to ask what absurd belief system enables a man to commit the atrocity of murdering his filial relations and siblings. That alone should be enough to seek to proscribe Boko Haram and rid our good earth of every semblance of that organisation, its thinking and whatever support system it enjoys.
We are not the enemy
The challenge for the Federal Government of Nigeria is that for the first time they are forced to act beyond the vacuous promise to delivering results. The result being the rescue from Boko Haram of the Chibok girls; nothing can eradicate the plight of the girls from the world’s consciousness.
The sooner the government realises it has a responsibility to act by using every means possible to #BringBackOurGirls realising the protests are urging them to act decisively and purposefully, rather than some ploy to disrupt the comfortableness of their exalted and unaffected cocoons of power and privilege, the better it would be for all concerned. #BringBackOurGirls from the grip of the Boko Haram menace.
We must stand
As men, we need to be at the forefront of fighting for equality for all participants in our global village, ensuring their rights are upheld, protected and wrestled into existence arresting the descent into the Barbarism that makes other members of the human race any less than ourselves by reason of their gender, their beliefs, their orientation, their means, their culture or any other distinguishing element of our great and broad diversity.
I stand with our women for liberty, freedom and the freedom to pursue their happiness without restraint or interference as we all desire for ourselves in this world.

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