Clowns & Jokers

Stuck in the middle.... Left, right, centre. It's a mess out there.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

One Drop of Water

Two of a handful of books im trying (!) to read at the moment and which are relevant to blogging are ‘Whats Left? How Liberals Lost their Way’ and ‘Mukhtar Mai: In the Name of Honour’.

In the Name of Honour is an account of an illiterate peasant from Pakistan who has made headlines over the last few years by succeeding in an unprecedented legal battle. In 2002 she was gang raped on the orders of the village elders who ruled on a punishment for the offence committed by her younger brother (of contact with a woman in the village). The punishment was carried out at gunpoint. It was assumed, as is custom, that she would then take her own life. Instead, encouraged by a local imam, she resolved to get justice and took her rapists to court.

Mukhtar’s story and the international interest that followed have caused embarrassment to President Musharraf who initially condemned the rape as a ‘heinous crime’ but seems to think latterly she is out to bathe in her own glory as some sort of self publicist bad mouthing Pakistan.

Mukhtar eventually succeeded in prosecuting her rapists and won compensation money which she used to start two schools. The sentences for the men involved (sentenced to death) were not nearly as swift as the one meted out on her - and are in appeal (the appeal court in Lahore overturned their convictions, amid an outcry from human rights groups). She still lives in the same village yards from the families of the rapists who have vowed to kill her.

The book was written by a French translator who sat with Mukhtar and noted down her story as she narrated it, commenting that she felt like she was in the presence of ‘greatness’ and when you read what she says you can sense why.

Mukhtar says she is unafraid and that the cause of women’s rights is more important than one life. Unbowed by the Presidents remarks and anger she warned him:

“He is a great leader and I am peasant. But when he talks of me shaming the country he should be careful, as he is also the son of a woman”. She went on: “I am just the first drop of water in the village. I believe it will rain after me”

Mukhtar also mentions that without the support of the world she might not have succeeded.

Another woman living under the threat of death and championing women’s rights (but at the opposite end of the spectrum), is Ayaan Hirsi Ali, currently promoting her book ‘Infidel’. I was pleased to see her take on a local utterly cringeworthy British ‘feminist’ for the Islamic cause on Sky last Friday night. Directly accused of being ‘a self publicist’ in the interview it was Hirsi Ali who reminded her adversary (whose name I have forgotten) that there are issues beyond merely the polarising ‘right’ to wear a veil in the UK. There are issues which affect millions of women in the name of Islam and third world patriarchy and both she, Hirsi Ali, and this woman were privileged to hold the position they do to raise awareness of it. They have gained a status afforded them by Holland and the UK that is unique in this sense. It was really terrific to hear Hirsi Ali acknowledge this.

Hirsi Ali has elected to reject her faith altogether and has been criticised for it – it certainly makes her position as a critic that much tougher - but the points she makes are no less valid.

Without highlighting issues and continuing to generate international interest in this sense, women (such as Mukhtar Mai) would never get the support they need. This attention is needed in the hidden corners of the West aswell.

Ultimately, the more opinions and debate on the real everyday issues the better.


Nazanin has finally been released from prison. (For details of the case followed please click on the Save Nazanin link on the right).

Thanks to 42,000 USD in donations advanced to Iran, along with $1,000 USD collected in Iran, the total amount of bail requested by the courts in Iran were paid. Nazanin’s lawyer Mr. Mostafaei completed all of the paper work necessary for Nazanin’s release. A small congratulatory reception was organised by her lawyers to celebrate her freedom. Nazanin's attorney Mr. Mostafei thanked everyone for their "Hearts filled with so much love".

Nazanin - In an interview after her release: While in prison I received some news of the activities for my freedom. If it wasn't for all the efforts on my behalf, I would not have been released. I thank Nazanin Afshin-Jam and Mina Ahadi for their efforts as well as everyone who worked so hard to gain my freedom.

I also thank everyone who made donations to make the payment of the bail possible. I wish I could do something in return but there is not much that I am capable of doing at this time. There are so many innocent inmates in prison but there is nothing that they can do.

Many innocent people have been in prison for few years and still unsure of their cases outcome. Shahla Jaahed, Zahra and many others there were sentenced to death.

I am hopeful that they all be freed with the efforts from outside. They also are hopeful that their innocence be also proven so they too can be free. I want me and my sisters to study and finish school. Thank you so much."



At Thursday, 08 February, 2007, Blogger MonicaR said...

I have said a prayer for all of these women. God bless them and protect them.

At Friday, 09 February, 2007, Blogger jonz said...

Alison you have clearly failed to understand that Islam is a liberater of women

Feminism and Islam>

At Saturday, 10 February, 2007, Blogger jonz said...

That's irony, of course


Post a Comment

<< Home