Friday, January 27, 2006

Mukhtar Mai Still Perseveres

I Could Scream: Examining the plight of women under Islam
The Glittering Eye has a post up earlier this week on Mukhtar Mai's latest slap-down by Pakistan. This one is a bit different since it happened at the UN:
Ms. Mai had long been scheduled to make an appearance called “An Interview With Mukhtar Mai: The Bravest Woman on Earth” in the United Nations television studios, sponsored by the office for nongovernmental organizations, the Virtue Foundation and the Asian-American Network Against Abuse of Human Rights.
Mukhtar MailBut on Thursday night the organizers were informed that the program would have to be postponed because of Pakistan’s objections.
Mukhtar Mai is an embarrassment to Pakistan. They fervently wish they could get rid of her, but they don’t dare. She’s too big, too much a symbol of courage in the face of impossible circumstances. She should be dead. She was supposed to be dead. But she not only lives, she flourishes.

Now Gateway Pundit reports on her latest efforts, using a quote from Pakistan's The Age:

Wrapped in a shawl she embroidered herself and wearing traditional shalwar kameez, a baggy tunic and trousers, Ms Mai was jubilant as she anticipated the election of two housewives from her village of Meerwala to a district council.

"I hope these women will help resolve problems of all women. This can only be done if women are fully empowered," said Ms Mai, who caused a storm of bad publicity for Pakistan and became an international symbol for women's rights after speaking out over her gang rape ordeal three years ago.

The elections aim to give women a greater say by reserving them seats in representative bodies.

The first phase of elections for district councils was held on August 19, when 53 of the country's 110 districts voted. The remaining districts will cast their ballots tomorrow [this was last week ed.].

Turnout was put around 50 per cent in the first round, but among women it was less, ranging from 43 per cent in populous Punjab province to 16 per cent in North-West Frontier Province, where there have been allegations that women were barred from casting their ballots in some constituencies.
”Allegations,” huh? I’ll bet they were threatened with being accused of bringing shame on their families. If there is one thing Ms. Mai has taught the West it is what consequences follow from shaming the family.

Interestingly, in many stories of her treatment by the village council, it is reported that she was raped because of her younger brother’s behavior in being with a young woman without a chaperone. In reality, her younger brother was raped by several members of a prominent family in the village. When asked if he planned to tell his family, he replied that he would. As a consequence, he was placed in a room with a girl from this clan and the police were called. He was then arrested and Muktar Mai’s fate was sealed. Or so they thought.

Eventually the pedophiles were tried and convicted. Only they don’t call it pedophilia in Muslim countries, nor do they consider anal rape of boys by older men as homosexual behavior if a man is the aggressor against the boy. Those acts are just standard operating procedure and this allows them to get around the strictures of Sharia law. Doesn’t every culture rape its boys regularly? Well, Middle Eastern cultures do.

WE CANThere is hope, however. The movement to free women is growing. We Can End Violence Against All Women , known as “WE CAN” is a regionally organized campaign. Its Pakistan location reports that the interior minister admits to 2,774 deaths of women in the previous five years due to honor killings. Common sense tells you that the figure is much higher, since many human rights groups claim that at least eighty per cent of Pakistani women are abused. It would be a toss-up between Pakistan and Palestine as to which place is more bestial toward women and children. They both suffer badly from a hair-trigger reactivity when it comes to their putative “honor.”

Any culture or country that so despises half their population and so routinely bestializes its young is a doomed project. It just takes awhile.

As Michael Ledeen would say, faster please. Oh please!


xavier said...

I often wonder if Arab Moslem societies preserve one of the darker sides of the Classical world.
Greeks and the Roman men had absolute control of their families. Women were pretty much chattel and could easily be divorced, abandoned even sent off to the temple as 'consecrated' prostituts if the husband tired of her.
children could be exposed, etc.
Reading about contemporary Arab society makes me suspect that islam froze Arab life with the pagan outlook of life and caused (Semetic) Christians and Jewish life to regress. Unlike the Germanic tribes, the Arab tribes never really evolved

Maverick Muse said...

a long, long while...don't hold your breath waiting. Islam is a Catch-22.

Muslim traditions can not change or be altered. Change would be wrong. To change, a Muslim must disavow Muslim traditions and hence no longer be Muslim. However, it is not in the Muslim mindset to accept change. Furthermore, the traditions would not change.

Pastorius said...

Good post, Dymphna.

I've got a question. How does one document this statement:

"... they don’t call it pedophilia in Muslim countries, nor do they consider anal rape of boys by older men as homosexual behavior if a man is the aggressor against the boy. Those acts are just standard operating procedure and this allows them to get around the strictures of Sharia law."

The reason I am asking is because I have read these kinds of statements about Islamic society many times, but, there is no documentation.

This is not to say that I don't believe that this kind of thing exists. I think it does exist in primitive societies all over the world. It exists in most prisons as well. And, of course, what is prison life, if not primitive life?

The thing is, as I can not document the above statement, when I have posted such things on my blog, I expect that liberals will think I am simply posting slander against Islam. I would really prefer to document what I write about, rather than going on anecdotes.

Dymphna said...


The same thought has passed through my mind when reading of the Greek polis. What was the Greek "harem" called? I forget now. It wasn't for purposes of polygamy, just to keep the women enclosed...sometimes I wonder if the contemplative orders (Discalced Carmelites, etc) didn't come out of that tradition. What do you think?


Maverick Muse--

Benedict XVI agrees with you.



Read some of the questions on Muslim sites. For example, one man was asking if frottage with an infant or toddler was permissible...I didn't preserve the URL -- actually, I recoiled and clicked off when the imam said "sure."

Frontpage Mag has some stuff by Phyllis Chesler and Walid Shoebat, whose mother was Christian and who was raised in a Muslim househld before converting has had some stories to tell.

Is is specifically Islam? Maybe now it is, but way back when, I think it was just part of the Bedouin culture.

Maverick Muse and Benedict may be correct...but then they may just evolve into secular Muslims and keep the trappings. Kind of like Episcopalians have done with Christianity...

I'm going to try to address this issue in a future post dealing with the first encylical of this new pope.

Pastorius said...

I have linked to all three of the things you mention. Actually, the one where the Imam says it's ok to have sex with infants was condemned by a very brave Muslim women in an Arab-media interview translated at Memri.

Now that you bring that up, I realize that that is enough to document the problem. It will probably also help to point out that it is impossible to do actual research studies of these occurrences in the Islamic world because it wouldn't be permitted.

xavier said...

Good question. I doubt that the cloistered order of nuns is a throwback to Greek practice to segregate women from the public square, I think it has moe to do with the example of St Anthony of Egypt who retreated from the world.
Interesting tidbit: the Greek were shocked to see the Romans allow their women to participate in meals with the men.
Here's something to ponder- the eastern side of the empire was dominated by Greek culture. Could Islam have absorbed elements Greek culture as accultrated by Asian society? Also how did Alexander the Great's conquests of the Persian empire shape Asian society and influence Islam?

ik said...

There is a article by Tim Reid in the Times of London
"Kandahar comes out of the closet" - google it

Here is a copy (second article on the page

"Such is the Pashtun obsession with sodomy — locals tell you that birds fly over the city using only one wing, the other covering their posterior — that the rape of young boys by warlords was one of the key factors in Mullah Omar mobilising the Taleban."

Dymphna said...


It was really Pachomius who was the founder of a cenobitical rule for monks...he was from Anthony's time and was the first to encourage the eremetic monks to leave their lauras at least for common meals. He very slowly introduced the idea of a day of labor interspersed with prayer.

St. Anthony never got that far; his monks were mainly eremetic.

Interestingly, though, when he began his hermits' life, he sold his legacy and gave it to the poor, reserving enough to pay a "group of holy women" for the care of his minor sister. While I'm not particularly a feminist, I recognize that women were forming religious communities before men did. It simply wasn't recorded except by accident -- e.g., as in this case, when Anthony left his sister with them.

Cenobitical rule, versus the earlier eremetic life, was a bit later in forming but not much. The Jewish communities had a tradition of eremeticism and the Christian one grew from that and then expanded to Pachomius' version of group life. In fact, it was the Pachomian rule that Benedict used to form his ideas...

...and, of course, all reform -- Bernard of Clairvaux, etc., -- has relied on the Benedictine Rule to get back to basics.

Too bad Pachomius didn't get more credit; he really understood human nature very well and it was because of his flexibility that monasteries began to flourish.

Thomas Merton is a good example of a throwback -- his monastery in Kentucky was reluctant to let him set up his own laura, but he did eventually. Probably a good thing, too, since he has so many visitors and this was no doubt disruptive to the community at large.

I met Merton's spiritual director when he moved to the Trappist monastery in VA.

As far as the women go, they were a large part of the financial undergirding of the early Church. Widows used their money to fund mission work and then left endowments (or whatever they called them then) when they died.

I'll bet these groups of "holy women" formed very early, even in Paul's time. They'd have had to, because an eremetic woman would have been easy prey. They'd only be safe in groups.