Words Are Inadequate Sometimes

You know, all the petty bitching I like to do was completely eclipsed today when I read this article in the Washington Post:

Pakistani Woman Seeks Justice in Gang Rape Case

Have you heard of Mukhtar Mai? She’s a Pakistani woman living in the remote village of Meerwala. I first heard about her through my sister, who e-mailed me about her case when it first happened. Back then, reading about it literally made me feel nauseous, and I’ve discovered that this holds true no matter how many times I read about it.

Mukhtar Mai’s 12-year-old brother had committed the heinous crime of walking around in public with a girl from another tribe. To avenge the girl’s and the tribe’s insulted honor, a tribal council ordered that Mukhtar be publicly gang-raped by four men. And to sweeten the deal, she was paraded naked through the whole village, in front of hundreds of onlookers.

More details can be found in this Times article.

Initially six men had been convicted in her case, but five of the convictions were overturned on appeal. The reason? Insufficient evidence. Given that the rape had been PUBLIC, all I can say is: WHAT THE FUCK? I don’t believe in the death penalty (believe it or not, I have a very, very strong pacifist streak when it comes to violent conflict and criminal justice), but for these motherfuckers? Kill them. Kill them slow. I want these shitsuckers to suffer.

It’s hard to believe that women are still treated like this in parts of the world. But they are. And it makes me incredibly angry, and incredibly sad.

Categorized:

Ranty McRant

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Sasha says:

    There are no words harsh enough to describe how this makes me feel.  Except. Give me a pair of shackles and a dull knife. I’ll castrate them myself.

  2. 2
    Monica says:

    Their are atrocities in the world that we probably can’t imagine.  There is systematic rape and multilation of women going on in the Congo, the aftereffects of the Rwandan massacre. 

    “According to the U.N. report, which was published nearly a year ago, the number of “excess deaths” in Congo directly attributable to the Rwandan and Ugandan occupation can be estimated at between 3 million and 3.5 million. This conflict has been the deadliest since World War II.”

    This is not something you hear much about in US press, but Ms. Magazine had an article about the horror. 

    http://www.worldpress.org/Africa/1561.cfm

    http://www.msmagazine.com/spring2005/congo.asp

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3953747.stm

  3. 3
    Arethusa says:

    I read about that Pakistani case earlier this year and the overturning the conviction.

    The Congo war for the last who knows how many years has been criminally under-reported. The only sites I read about regularly is The Economist and, to a lesser extent, BBC World.

    I’m sincerely wondering what the response will be to Sudan. Some more “never again”‘s I suppose. The best the Canadian govt. thought to do, at one point, was send 60-100 unarmed folks to…well who the fuck knows what. “Supervise”. At least the AU army got more funding…

  4. 4
    Robin says:

    I can’t read the article because this case is so horrible it literally makes me sick, but if I remember correctly, isn’t the evidence requirement the corroborating word of a witness?  The woman herself is not considered a viable authority, so someone who saw the rape actually has to come forward and be willing to testify (someone male, right?).  I think I remember that distinctly from when 60 Minutes ran this story (I’m pretty sure that’s the show that covered it). 

    I know that Eve Ensler has become an incredible activitist for women in these countries who literally have no voice in the court system or even in their families—women who are silenced in every legitimate way society can prescribe.  She has talked about how even she becomes so weighed down by the grief and horror sometimes that she sinks into pretty deep depressions. 

    It makes me so angry when people go on and on about “radical” feminists, because they don’t understand that it’s exactly that kind of absolute commitment and almost fanatical drive that is necessary to give women in such repressive societies voice.

    Even in the US, marital rape was not legally recognized until the early 1970s, and even into the 1980s, women were expected to physically fight off their rapist in order to actually prove they were raped and did not invite the sexual act.  Our rape laws have been slow to evolve in a relatively “free” and open society, with “force” and “victim resistance” still required by some state’s rape laws.  It’s mind boggling to think about what has to happen in terms of a social revolution in countries where gang rapes can be legally sanctioned and where once women are raped they are disowned by their families (not to mention the countries where women are doused in acid as “punishment” for already being victimized by men).

  5. 5
    Alyssa says:

    Horrifying doesn’t even begin to describe this. It sure puts my problems in perspective.

  6. 6
    CindyS says:

    What was done to her was horrific and something that I can’t wrap my mind around.  How she is handling it is with courage, honour and dignity.  She is a true heroine and I hope and pray that she can get justice in her country.

    I don’t understand systems of government that allow such crimes against women.  How were these men brought up that they do not have an ounce of compassion?  Growing up in Canada I have become used to the idea that men who commit rape are evil and twisted.  They don’t have a conscience.  However, when I see the violence done to humans in Rwanda, the Congo etc. I have to question what I believe. 

    I am horribly ignorant about the tradgedies in this world and I only have my self to blame.  I watched a movie called Tears of The Sun and what I saw in the movie was so horrifying and heartbreaking.  I didn’t understand and I still don’t.

    Once again, I hope Mai finds her justice and with it a peace to help her with the rest of her life.

    CindyS

  7. 7
    Laura says:

    I’ve been following this story for some time. It’s said the boy was walking with a woman who was a member of a different tribe, but they accused him of inpropriety with her, approached Mai’s tribe and demanded justice, so the elders of her tribe ordered that she be gang raped by the rival tribe members bringing the complaint to bring about justice.

    Mai says that whole story is bunk and that her brother was actually sexually molested by members of her own tribe, who made up this story to cover up their crime.

    In different parts of the mideast, especially where tribal rule is in force, there’s a big problem with men molesting boys, and it’s way too common. Men buy boys a bike or give them money to help support their families, and the boys become their sexual property.

    I admit I don’t understand this culture, where boys are allowed to become sex slaves of wealthy men, and where families will either order their daughter killed, or kill her themselves because she’s had the misfortune of being raped. Family honor my ass. It’s archaic and cruel.

    I’m just glad Mai’s parents loved her enough to get over their shame (they weren’t going to support her until they realized she was going public, with or without their blessing) and back her up in her battle with the tribe and with the government.

  8. 8
    Lisa says:

    Mukhtar Mai’s experience was horrendous, and reflective of the brutality of so-called tribal justice in Pakistan. She has been a strong and courageous advocate, opened schools, and otherwise done everything she can to raise the profile of women’s experiences. In addition to this recent incident, the Pakistani government recently forbade her from leaving the country, and confiscated her passport, until pressure forced them to withdraw this, as she was scheduled for a North American speaking tour. Among others, a number of Muslim women and South Asian organizations have been working to raise awareness (and money!) around her case and projects. Risama (or IzzyMo) is one blogger who has been working on this case and blogs at http://living-tradition.blogspot.com/

    Pakistan is not in “the mideast” as it is commonly referred to; it is a Muslim country and in South Asia. When we are working to confront this kind of horror, IMO it’s important that the efforts of those who are working for change, like Mukhtar Mai herself, are supported, rather than casting blame upon entire religions, cultures, nations, or areas of the world. I don’t think at all that this site is doing that, or any of the wonderful Smart Bitches (site owners and visitors) would do this, but some of the mainstream U.S. discourse around cases like this one can be extremely poisonous – blaming Islam, for example, when these sorts of tribal codes are not “Islamic” in any sense of the word, and when Mukhtar Mai herself is very religious and finds strength in her beliefs to confront oppression and oppressive structures, or insinuating that child abuse and rape only happen in these “other” cultures, and not in the U.S. or Europe. And it saddens me to say that, because any discussion of cases like Mukhtar Mai’s is so important, and the need for attention so great. The recent NYTimes article was very good, and important.

    I just hate the discussion that targets Those Backward People and Their Poor Women, never seeming to remember that the “Poor Women” are also “Backward People,” with minds and stories of their own, who are fighting many, many enemies every day, from tribal injustice codes to economic ravages of globalization.

  9. 9

    ‘Give me a pair of shackles and a dull knife. I’ll castrate them myself.’

    I’m with Sasha. Only I would bring lemon juice to rinse them in afterwards.

    Bastards.

  10. 10
    Arielle says:

    I haven’t yet taken the time to read the linked article. But I have to say something about this. The reality of violence against women is something I have to live with everyday. Gang rape is now the new point d’orgue to burglaries and assorted kidnappings in my country. When armed thugs brake into houses now, they rape everyone in sight, from babies to grandmothers. This sort of crime you can’t become numb about. Even if it happens every day. Even if the men are never prosecuted because the victims are too ashamed or made to feel guilty. So I’m still shocked and outraged at what happens to women like Mukhtar Mai. When you live in a country where women are considered non-entities excepts for their womb, or where, as a stranger on the street once told me, “women should fear men”, it’s hard to imagine that it isn’t the same everywhere and will always be so. Sometimes I don’t want to know what happens elsewhere. But then again, if it is reality, shouldn’t I face it?

  11. 11
    Maili says:

    […] IMO it’s important that the efforts of those who are working for change, like Mukhtar Mai herself, are supported, rather than casting blame upon entire religions, cultures, nations, or areas of the world.

    Thank you, Lisa.

    Huge kudos to Smart Bitches for bringing this up on this blog.

  12. 12
    Candy says:

    Pakistan is not in “the mideast” as it is commonly referred to; it is a Muslim country and in South Asia.

    Thank you, Lisa. I was about to point it out myself. I think there’s a general tendency for people to clump together Islamic countries as belonging to the Middle East, when some of the biggest Muslim countries of all (e.g. Indonesia) are not part of that geographic region.

    (…)some of the mainstream U.S. discourse around cases like this one can be extremely poisonous – blaming Islam, for example, when these sorts of tribal codes are not “Islamic” in any sense of the word(…)

    Exactly. The punishment decided on by the tribal council did not, as far as I know, conform to any sort of Syariah law that I know of (caveat: I’m hardly an expert on Syariah law). You will not believe some of the arguments I’ve gotten into at work when people start foaming at the mouth about how evil Islam is and how Muslim countries should just be carpet-bombed out of existence. UGH.

    I admit I don’t understand this culture, where boys are allowed to become sex slaves of wealthy men (…)

    Unfortunately, in any situation where there’s extreme poverty, lack of education and/or a huge disparity in power, trafficking in humans (for sexual purposes and otherwise) can become common. Sexual slavery is relatively common in certain parts of eastern Europe, parts of south-east Asia, parts of Africa, etc. Hell, slavery (sexual and otherwise) is far from dead in America.

  13. 13
    Robin Bayne says:

    “Horrifying doesn’t even begin to describe this. It sure puts my problems in perspective.”

    I agree with Alyssa on this one—-sure makes my problems seem small.*shudder*

  14. 14
    Robin says:

    “. . . some of the mainstream U.S. discourse around cases like this one can be extremely poisonous – blaming Islam, for example, when these sorts of tribal codes are not “Islamic” in any sense of the word, and when Mukhtar Mai herself is very religious and finds strength in her beliefs to confront oppression and oppressive structures, or insinuating that child abuse and rape only happen in these “other” cultures, and not in the U.S. or Europe.”

    This is one of the forms of backlash against Islam after 9/11.  In my own job I deal with other forms of this backlash, and I don’t think that people realize how strong the fear of Islam is in America (Thomas Friedman did a very interesting program on the “roots” of 9/11 that still plays periodically on The Discovery Channel, and I wish every American would watch it). I’ve heard from more than one Muslim woman that in their opinion, Islam in its pure form actually empowers and liberates women more than, for example, Christianity. 

    At the same time, though, there are countries all over the world where women have been silenced, if not by the “official” national government and society, then by sub-societal groups all over the world (including the U.S.).  So while I heartily agree with you that this is not a problem associated with one region or one religion, I do think that the brutalization of women (and boys, and children, and men, and animals) is societal or cultual in nature, in so far as the view, treatment, and rights of individuals are all shaped by cultural and social norms, expecations, and values.  Unfortunately, religion can be used as a vehicle to institutionalize social values and regulations, but of course this happens in every society and in every religion.

  15. 15
    white raven says:

    God, I think I’m going to be sick.

    I can’t think of a punishment gruesome enough for these slime.  This poor woman.

  16. 16
    Kate R says:

    Arielle, I read your blog and I cannot imagine how angry you must be. There can’t be anything worse than feeling powerless in the face of stupid cruelty, especially when there’s apparently no one able to stop it.

  17. 17
    Robyn says:

    Where’s Lorena Bobbitt when you need her?

    This truly is a courageous young woman who deserves the support of the world. There are many practices like this that sicken me, such as the genital mutilation performed on young girls. The idea behind this, I believe, is that if a woman can’t have an orgasm she won’t stray from her marriage. It’s barbaric.

    As for the religion question, any person in any religion can misuse and misquote to give themselves a false sense of superiority. As far as I’m concerned, Jesus said the devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He came to give life, and life more abundantly. Men AND women. Using God as an excuse to dominate and hate is the ultimate abomination.

  18. 18

    Gods. Just when I think I have heard the lowest, most depraved, most filthily awful thing human beings can do to each other, I am proven wrong.

    I am reminded of a book I picked up in a used bookstore titled “Men Are Not Cost-Effective”. Basically, the author proposed that since most violent (and other) crime is committed by men, why do women have to bear the economic burden for it through taxes etc.? The author recommended (if memory serves me right) a “man tax” to offset the damage men to do society. I often have little fantasies about being Queen of the World and implementing this most special piece of legislation, and using the ensuing revenues to make the world a better place for those who are most systematically abused: women and children.

    Got to go cry now. Gods.

  19. 19

    My understanding of the term “Middle East” is that it is more a cultural term than a geographical one.  And culturally, Pakistan would fall pretty much in line with the other countries in the middle east.

    And I certainly don’t agree with the opinions some people have of Islam.  I agree that we should focus on the efforts of those who are trying to change things.  However, I think part of the reason people assume Islam is bad is the same as the way many people assume Christianity is bad because of the rascist and sexist views held by many, and in the past, the majority, of Christians.  That vocal group overtakes the minority and the moderate.  Islam is having the same problem now.

  20. 20
    Candy says:

    My understanding of the term “Middle East” is that it is more a cultural term than a geographical one.

    Hmmmm. Good point. The way I’ve always understood it, though, it was a specific region in Asia that, depending on who you talk to, occasionally encompasses certain North African nations like Morocco and Libya. I’ve heard Afghanistan included as part of the Middle East, but that’s about as far east as I’ve seen the boundaries go—I’m not the greatest geography expert, though.

    However, I think part of the reason people assume Islam is bad is the same as the way many people assume Christianity is bad because of the rascist and sexist views held by many, and in the past, the majority, of Christians.

    Yup—a somewhat similar phenomenon happened to Socialism and feminism, too. Some of the distortion is due to the vocal minority, some of it’s also media manipulation—showing how moderate and reasonable a group of people are is so BORING, it’s much more interesting to focus on the people who are fucking nuts and blowing clinics or themselves up.

  21. 21

    I don’t know why I always spell racist wrong.  When I type it, I put that extra ‘s’ in there without even thinking about it.

    The “middle east” is definitely a “specific region in Asia” as you said, but the nations included vary depending on who you talk to, even in the government and scholarship.  I do agree that Pakistan is probably too far east to typically be included in the “middle east”, but I can also completely understand why people assume that it is.  Politically and culturally, Pakistan is not that far removed from Iran or Syria or Saudia Arabia.

    And I know everything is blamed on the media, but I agree that a huge part of the problem as regards the perception of religions can be laid at their door.  Yes, they are informing the people, but it seems that the news industry increasingly looks for sensationalism.  It’s interesting to see how the decline in interest in the news only increases the sensationalism.  Haven’t they considered that it may be the very cause of the decline?

  22. 22

    It’s interesting to see how the decline in interest in the news only increases the sensationalism.  Haven’t they considered that it may be the very cause of the decline?

    I stopped reading the newspaper for that very reason. I want fiction, I’ll read a novel.

  23. 23
    cw says:

    I had to check the date when I read about Ms Mai. Just aghast.

    At least she’s finally cleared to leave the country (after a pointed remark from SecState Condi Rice—go Condi!) to speak at some high-profile events here in the US.

  24. 24
    Maman says:

    The really sad part is that we all could be subject to this depravity if the bubble that we call civilization is pierced… It’s a very “Lord of the Flies” world out there ladies…

Comments are closed.

↑ Back to Top