Thursday 23 April 2009

Why would a woman ever vote for a Republican? did the world’s women do, during Bush’s crusade to bring American freedom to the world?

Right here in America, the evangelicals are still fighting to take away a woman’s right to choose, in jurisdictions across the country. Moms are struggling to keep their families going in a deepening recession, and fighting battles against the evangelicals on book banning, intelligent design, contraception, HPV shots, sex education, and other educational issues; lesbians are fighting the one-man-one-woman battle. And the United States is the only developed country in the world that has not ratified the CEDAW treaty on discrimination against women.

But that’s just the beginning of our world tour.

Saudi Arabia is a regime which the Bushes befriended, armed, and defended from the threat of Saddam. Women’s voting rights are restricted or removed in Saudi Arabia; they can’t even open a bank account without her husband’s permission; they are discriminated against in inheritance law; a woman’s home can be searched; her phone calls can be monitored; access to satellite TV and the internet s controlled.

In Saudi Arabia, there are many restrictions on working women: women comprise only 5 percent of the Saudi workforce, the lowest rate in the world; an effort to open up more jobs for women was fought by the religious police and the government. Saudi women cannot work in a coed workplace, work without their husband’s permission, go to school with males, teach boys over 10, or eat with men is restaurants. Saudi women can’t go out without the black cloak, head scarf and veil. Saudi religious police, charged with roaming the streets with sticks to beat disobedient women, prevented 14 girls from fleeing a burning school beause they were not veiled properly; they all died. Unless accompanied by a male relative, Saudi women cannot even enter a car (to include taxis) or ride a bike, or enter a hotel, or travel. Lesbianism is a serious crime in Saudi Arabia: sentences range from flogging and banishment to stoning to death; even speaking in defense of lesbians is banned.

There is no legal protection to stop violence against Saudi women, and women have little means to escape from abusive husbands. Women cannot testify in cases in which there are male witnesses, under the reasoning that women can’t be trusted, so it is exceedingly difficult for a women to lodge an accusation of rape.One woman was gang-raped by seven men, and then sentenced to 90 lashes because she had been sitting in a car with a man. Saudi Arabia has serious problems with the trafficking, enslavement and sexual exploitation of vulnerable women; girls from Africa and Asia are regularly enslaved. Saudis who reside abroad can take female slaves with them; one 17-year-old girl was held four years in Colorado and raped regularly.

Likewise Pakistan is allegedly our ally in the war on terror. But because Bush forgot who was really behind 911 – the Taleban’s guest, Usama bin Laden – he allowed both al-Qa’ida and the Taleban to hop over into Pakistan and infect that country with oppressive medieval attitudes toward women. Islamic extremists pose an increasing menace to Pakistani women: sharia, honor killings, segregation, veils, resctrictions on female employment; women and girls have no say in who they marry. Girls’ schools have been closed, demolished, bombed; female health workers have been threatened. A female provincial welfare minister was murdered because the killer felt that women shouldn’t work.

Afghanistan, the country we allegedly freed from the extremists: the Afghans are now arguing about a law that legalizes marital rape, imposes discrimination in custody cases, and controls when a woman can leave the house, or seek work, a teacher or a doctor. Girls’ schools have been bombed, and girls without veils have been disfigured with acid burns. Girls as young as 9 and 10 are sold off to 50-year-old businessmen to pay off debts; childbirth at that age risks labor complications, infection, haemorrhaging and death.

Iraq is the country we built out of the wreckage we ourselves created: this was supposed to be the model democracy we were going to show off to the world. Iraqi women are under threat from religious extremists. Unveiled women and women’s advocated have been killed. Kidnapping, rape, murder, honor killings, and suicides are rising among Iraqi women. Access to school and work is under attack. The Iraqi minister for women’s affairs quit because the government just wouldn’t give her the money she needed to do her job.

In 2005, while Bush slept, Hezbollah, the rightwing extremists who kidnap, torture and kill Americans, became part of the Lebanese government; their dream is Sharia law along the lines delineated by their sponsors, the Iranians. A year later, Hamas, the Palestinian hardliners, took over the Palestinian "government". Both groups are notorious for deliberately endangering innocent women and their children in terror attacks.
Republicans have been bragging about Bush’s work in Africa, but women unsurprisingly have a rough time of it there; rather than beat a dead horse I will merely cite two examples, rape as an instrument of genocide, and genital mutilation.

Iran is the true axis of terror, not Iraq, but Bush essentially ignored the Iranians. So welcome to the world of Sharia and the Islamic dress code; domestic violence is a problem; rape victims face adultery charges; stoning is used for accused adulterers. Women have been beaten, and sentenced to jail and the lash, just for protesting discriminatory laws on things like legal testimony, divorce and custody.

This is the second time I have raised stoning on this site. Look at the last picture in this post: a woman who is accused of adultery, and is not allowed the same right of testimony as her accuser, is buried in dirt up to her neck, and they throw a rock at her head. And another. And another. And over and over and over. All day long. Until she dies of a skull fracture, or massive bleeding, or shock, or chokes on her own blood. Beating her to death with baseball bats would be more humane.

Incidentally, stoning a woman to death for adultery is also prescribed in the Old Testament of the Bible, the book which some U.S. evangelicals would like to make the law of the land: they incessantly cite the Bible as their infallible guide for moral guidance, their justification for bitterly resisting civil unions for gay couples. If they can use the Bible to argue against civil unions, what’s to stop them from using the same logic to seek a stoning statute? Rightwing loons who can’t even admit that waterboarding is torture could quite easily cast the first stone at a woman they hate, or the second stone, or the hundredth.

The whole ethos of the Bush regime was to bring American values to the rest of the world, particularly the Middle East, to include regime change as needed. Mission accomplished!

**UPDATE** -- A Saudi judge has upheld a Saudi father's decision to sell his eight-year-old daughter into "marriage" (read: prostitution) with a 47-year-old man in repayment of a debt.

I am woman, hear me roar!


Larue said...

Ya lost me on this post.

Such accussations (yes I know some of them are true from having read about them) without the links to your proof render you to just another ranting voice in the wilderness.

I'm not saying what you posit is NOT accurate, but to deliberate each and every point you make (without substantiation) as false or true, would take a lot of time to google up the links to do so.

You do not champion your cause when you fail to attribute sources and links to your claims.

Have a nice blog.

HelloDollyLlama said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HelloDollyLlama said...

This post was based on dozens and dozens of sources -- all of them credible grownup sources -- so posting all the links is impractical; the resulting post would be a mess.

It's called research. Some folks actually dig in and look at all the original sources, rather than just cutting and pasting a single news report from CNN.

I have already established myself as a credible source for facts and well-reasoned opinion. And as you intimated, a lot of this information is already well-known. You can either...

(a) believe me,
(b) not believe me,
(c) challenge me on specific assertions of fact, or
(d) read up on it yourself.

Trust me, I've been doing this kind of work on and off for almost 30 years.

Mark said...

The thing about the little girl up north goes on. The Saudi Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower court that had ruled that the father could enter into an agreement to marry his daughter off. Their reasoning was that until the girl was old enough to actually marry, 14 under Saudi law, that the actual agreement meant nothing. Which, given how the Saudis do things when they really do have a legal and binding contract, is probably right. However, the Saudis have gotten so much bad press over the incident that they have now banned such agreements (by royal decree). The Saudi Ministry of Justice is now charged with "investigating" such cases when they come up. The new king seems to be trying to change things. He has made the first appointment of a women to a top ministry post in the history of the country, Minister of Education. I took all of this information from the "Arab News"

HelloDollyLlama said...

It sounds like they're doing the least they possibly can, so they can live in the 12th century as long as possible. To paraphrase the immortal Tolkien, they can try to fence themselves in, but they can't fence the rest of the world out. The more they resist change, the more cataclysmic the change will be when it comes. The House of Saud are the spiritual heirs of the Bourbons and the Romanovs, and the villagers are coming with their pitchforks someday. If not from within, then from without: ironically, the Saudi failure to modernize their nation has made them more vulnerable to the one thing they dread the most -- conquest by the hated Shia in Iran.

Just wait until their oil money runs out: then the Saudi royal family will be seen as they really are: an incredibly lucky but stupefyingly ignorant bunch of goatherds, the Clampetts of the Gulf.

Set a spell. Take yer shoes off. Y'all come back now, ya hear!