Afghan women protest the killing (Photo - AP)
Many of you might have seen news stories about the execution of a 22 year old woman by the Taliban in a village near Kabul. Apparently two Taliban commanders were in conflict, and both had some sort of relationship with her, and in some kind of cover up or face saving tactic, she was accused of adultery and shot to cheering crowds. For those of you who haven't seen it there is a video report here and some more details here, and the resulting Afghani women's protest here. This is a far from related incident. There is a rapidly growing trend of honour killings, particularly of women, as the Western forces prepare to leave. Another recent case was an ex-husband who burst into the home of his former wife and beheaded her and then two of their children. She had divorced him after a decade of domestic abuse. Many cases aren't reported - men make a decision to kill, and then go and say a prayer at the mosque the next day, said an Afghan source. The depravity of the honour-shame culture with regard to women is further illustrated by a case involving an 18 year old girl who was held for 5 days, tortured, chained to a wall and gang raped by police. Normally when such shame has been brought on a family, the victim is expected to kill themselves, or else the shame will go down the family for generations. In this case, courageously, the victim and her family have gone public and demanded justice, to restore her honour and dignity. The state is refusing to prosecute the perpetrators, but the girl is saying that she must kill herself if her attackers are not prosecuted and punished for their crimes. They are still bound by the cultural mores that apply in some parts of Afghanistan, but courageously and rightly, they are trying to shift the blame onto the perpetrators in the eyes of society. Let us pray that this happens, and even if it doesn't, that she defies her society and chooses to live, regardless.
Such depraved values are similarly manifested in parts of Paksitani culture, which is why it is relevant to this blog. Moving from Pakistan's northern border to it's western neighbour, two stories about marriage law in Iran - God forbid that they spread to Pakistan. Firstly, Iran's religious parliament is seeking to reform 'illegal' laws - ie ones that do not comply with sharia, with the goal of making it legal to force girls under 10 to wed. Apparently puberty in sharia is said to start at 9 for girls and 15 or so for boys. Secondly there is the practice of Sigha, becoming increasingly common in some Muslim societies. Sigha is 'Temporary marriage' - effectively legalized prostitution where for the price of a 'dowry' men can be 'married' to the woman for a short period. A website in Iran is offering women about £55 to £80 pounds to be in such marriages for one hour.
With neighbours like these......