Enough, I say. Enough already.
I have just read a report of an eight year old Yemeni “bride” dying on her wedding night, at the hands of her forty year old husband, from internal injuries due to sexual trauma. Whether or not this report is true is undetermined, according to Snopes. But let’s face it, this is not the first report we have all read on this type of issue.
Yemeni law-makers felt that a minimum age of 17 for marriage was un-Islamic. UN-ISLAMIC??? When it comes to the well-being of children, who gives a tinker’s cuss whether something is Islamic or not? I don’t care what religion you are, it is NEVER ok to marry off children. Those are little girls, not possessions. Just so that we all get the picture here – it is, according to the conservative law-makers of Yemen, perfectly acceptable for an adult male to have sexual intercourse with a CHILD, providing of course they are married. The very thought revolts me. It is abhorrent.
I am now expecting a rush of Muslim voices telling me this is NOT what the Qu’ran says. That this is an exception, rather than the rule. Or will there be a deathly hush? Regardless of whether this is deemed to be “un-Islamic”, or an exception rather than the rule, WHERE ARE THE VOICES OF OUTRAGE???
Then there was the report of the pregnant Pakastani woman who was stoned to death by her family – for marrying against their wishes. Stoned to death. Her OWN FAMILY stood and threw rocks at her until she was dead. On the steps of the Court House, no less.
WHERE ARE THE VOICES OF OUTRAGE???
How about the Christian woman who had been sentenced to death in Sudan – her crime? Being a Christian instead of a Muslim. The facts of her story appear to be totally immaterial to the Powers-that-be…a case of "don’t confuse us with the facts", perhaps? At least this case had some voices raised in outrage, and it now appears that she will be freed, her life spared. But how many more unreported cases are there?
Gang-rapes – India and Malaysia.
Children being raped in a school in India.
Headline after headline – all reflecting the increasing violence against women and children, girls in particular.
In India, there was some outrage at the “rambling comments from the party's leader in the state of Maharashtra who appeared to call for rape victims to be hanged along with their attackers on the grounds that they had extra-marital sex”. Is it a coincidence then, that with the latest gang-rape in India, that of two teenage girls, their bodies were found hanging from a tree? In Malaysia, “activists say many more cases go unreported due to a continuing stigma for rape victims in the Muslim-majority country”.
I won’t even go into the atrocities in our own country.
What the hell is wrong with people?
Again, I ask you, where is the outrage? Whether this is “custom”, “tradition”, “belief” or whatever – are we going to allow people to pretend that these outrages do not have their roots in religion? Are we seriously going to buy the excuse that it is “un-Christian” or “un-Islamic” – when both religions clearly set forth a patriarchal society, and in doing so, make it perfectly clear that women are lesser beings?
I am sick of it. I am sick of “traditions” that continue to demean women – at a wedding, the question is asked… “Who gives this woman to this man?” EXCUSE ME???? Who GIVES this woman? What is she, your possession? Payment of dowries – it is like you are begging the groom to take your daughter, who is so worthless that you will actually PAY HIM to take her off your hands. Lobola – well, buy your wife from her family, why don’t you? I don’t care what the stated reasoning is – that the payment of lobola shows how genuine the groom is, how much he loves her, how much her family value her etc – what a load of rubbish! It is merely a way for the family to extort money out of the groom. And the same can be said for the payment of the dowry. It is pure extortion.
It is time to ditch it all. Ditch the traditions, customs etc that demean women and make it OK for outrages to continue. Ditch religions that allow men to think of themselves as above women. Ditch the lip service the western world pays to the issues. Get truly outraged, show your outrage, world! What is the point of holding up signs saying “Bring back our girls”? Did that get the kidnapped girls back? Has it brought them back? NO, it didn’t. It has done precisely NOTHING.
I am a firm believer in a policy of “live and let live” when it comes to religion, if that religion does no harm… But we cannot continue to pretend that religions are “doing no harm”. They are doing IMMENSE harm, and for as long as we tolerate it, saying nothing, or merely paying lip service to any expression of outrage, the harm will continue. How many more little girls must have their insides shredded because Islam says it is ok to marry an eight year old child? How many more women will be stoned to death because they dared to follow their hearts? How many more girls will be raped, and then be blamed for the very crime perpetrated against them? How many more wives will be abused by their husbands because the Bible says they must submit to him? HOW MANY MORE?
For the love of all that is good, it is time to take a stand. It is time that we, the citizens of the world, start to insist that our governments take meaningful action against the countries who allow these atrocities. Let us have action against those countries who legislate that women can be treated as possessions of men. Let us stop the use of religion by people/countries to demean and denigrate women. Because until we do start insisting on real action, we are guilty of allowing harm to come to the innocents, and we are, in effect, agreeing that the lives of women and girl children are worthless.