"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Injustice: Women Paying the Price for Men's Honor

Whatever the pretext -- divorce, supposed adultery, or a settling of accounts among men -- women pay the heaviest price.  They may be given as compensation for an offense or raped as a form of reprisal by their husbands' enemies.  Sometimes, all it takes is for two men to quarrel about something, and one of them will take revenge on the other's wife. The common practice in our villages is for men to take justice into their own hands, invoking the principle of 'an eye for an eye.' It is always a question of honor, and they may do as they please: cut off a woman's nose, burn a sister, rape a neighbor's wife.

And even if the assailants are arrested before they manage to kill their victims, the instinct for vengeance doesn't stop there, because other members of their family are always ready to champion the honor of a brother or cousin. ...

I don't condone 'crimes of honor'; far from it, but when foreigners hound me with questions, I try to explain to them how society works here in the Punjab, a province where such crimes are unfortunately widespread. I was born in this country, subject to its laws, and I know that I am like all other women who belong to the men of their families: we are objects, and they have the right to do whatever they want with us. Submission is compulsory.

Mukhtar Mai, In the Name of Honor

How things might be different if these men followed Jesus' command to not return evil for evil, not to seek vengeance and to be quick to forgive.  This thirst for vengeance and upholding a man's honor demands a steep price for the innocent!  Why must women hurt for the sake of men's pride?

Despite her humiliation, Mukhtar decided to fight the injustice instead of killing herself as expected

From Wikipedia about the author:

Mukhtaran Bibi (Punjabi, Urdu: مختاراں بی بی, born circa 1972,[1] now known as Mukhtār Mā'ī,[2] مختار مائی) is a Pakistani woman from the village of Meerwala, in the rural tehsil (county) of Jatoi of the Muzaffargarh District of Pakistan. Mukhtār Mā'ī was the victim of a gang rape as a form of honour revenge, on the orders of a panchayat (tribal council) of the local Mastoi Baloch clan that was richer and more powerful as opposed to her Gujjar clan.[3] By custom, rural women are expected to commit suicide after such an event.[4][5][6] Instead, she spoke up, and pursued the case, which was picked up by the international media, creating pressure on the Pakistani government and the police to address the rape. The case eventually went to trial, and her rapists were arrested, charged and convicted, until an appeals court overturned the convictions. The case is still pending with the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Mukhtar has been waging a legal battle in Pakistan in the years since, and, as a direct result, her safety has been constantly in jeopardy. Despite this, she started the Mukhtar Mai Women's Welfare Organization to help support and educate Pakistani women and girls, and is an outspoken advocate for women's rights.


Becky said...

I LOVE Mukhtar Mai, and really enjoyed her book, which I read a few months back. Such a strong powerful woman, and such an inspiration.

Steve Finnell said...

you are invited to follow my blog

Amber said...

*shudder* Women only have to pay the price for men's honor when they're viewed as property and not people in their own rights.

Rape isn't about the sex (though of course the men get off on it) it's about the power and the degredation of the woman and (in such cases) through her to the men that she 'represents'. It's just like (oh, hells this is a terrible freaking sentence but please understand I don't believe this way) keying someones car that's pissed you off or breaking their windows, etc. You break their things to show that you can make them pay and because you don't respect them.

You're going to keep us updated on this book, yes? I may need to get it.

Susanne said...

Becky, glad to know you enjoyed her book. Yes, what a courageous woman! I greatly admire women who buck tradition and speak out in order to improve the lives of women! Makes me wonder what more I could be doing ...

Steve, thanks!

Amber, yes, I totally get your example and know that you don't mean it that way. It's a shame women are looked as a piece of property. Mukhtar says at one point they are not even as valuable as a goat. (Sometimes the tribal council will decided goats or women will be traded in order to make "right" a wrong! Women aren't allowed at the tribal councils and are just informed afterward that they must do this or that in order to satisfy an avenging tribe. Grrr!) Makes me better realize the horribleness of slavery throughout history where slaves were considered property. :-/

The book is actually quite short and written five years ago or more. I just found it recently at the local library and decided to give it a read. I don't know that it contained anything new, but I did enjoy reading a bit about her life as I find learning of other cultures quite intriguing. I'm just sad that women are treated this way...but I'm happy to read they are slowly, but surely making strides against the oppressiveness of their menfolk.

Thank you for your comments.

Suroor said...

MM is my hero!

Lat said...

She's so very strong woman.Not everyone has the courage to do what she's doing.Hope her endeavours bring much light and awareness to men and women of all walks of life,so that conditions can really change for such abuses to stop.

Thanks for the post,Sus!