Monday, November 3, 2008

Hearts of Stone

This is just so wrong and terrible in so many different ways:
A 13-year-old girl who said she had been raped was stoned to death in Somalia after being accused of adultery by Islamic militants, a human rights group said.

Dozens of men stoned Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow to death Oct. 27 in a stadium packed with 1,000 spectators in the southern port city of Kismayo, Amnesty International and Somali media reported, citing witnesses. The Islamic militia in charge of Kismayo had accused her of adultery after she reported that three men had raped her, the rights group said.

(Source: Huffington Post)
Let's take apart this atrocity one piece at a time:
  • The girl was thirteen.
  • She was apparently already married, otherwise the charge would not have been adultery but fornication or similar.
  • She was raped. At age thirteen.
  • Her story was not believed. This accords with Shariah law, which automatically considers a man's word more credible than a woman's.
  • She was sentenced to death.
  • Authorities allowed the sentence to be carried out.
  • The execution was performed in a particularly brutal way.
  • Her death was cheered on by a crowd of 1000 spectators.
Of course, Somalia is a mess. There's no rule of law. Various factions are fighting each other.

Even so. If anyone is wondering why feminism hasn't withered away, here's one compelling reason.

And lest we're tempted to "Other" this atrocity and ascribe it to the "backwardness" of other nations and religions: Thirteen-year-olds are raped in the United States every day. Women's basic credibility was challenged in American rape trials until very recently. By this, I don't mean that the accused was (rightly) presumed innocent, but that the accuser was presumed to be a crazy vindictive lying slut until proven otherwise. Even today, victims of sexual assault too often find themselves having to defend their sexual histories in court.

Oh, and don't forget: Even though my country is not ruled by extremist militias, we've still allowed the rule of law to be hollowed out over the past seven years. We have plenty of our own, home-grown (Christian) fundamentalists who believe women deserve punishment for expressing their sexuality (preferably, in the form of a baby, though disease will do the trick, too). And among the rich and privileged countries, we stand alone in employing the death penalty.


Smirking Cat said...

I have heard rape dismissed so many times as a woman getting revenge on a man by lying. Apparently the horrifying high rates of unreported rape don't sway people in this mindset.

Anyone who participated in or watched that girl die is a disgusting, vile roach. Stories like this make me so angry and lose hope for humanity all over again.

Sungold said...

But even worse than the individual behavior is the *collective* culpability. The militia leaders promoted this atrocity and all kinds of people had to cooperate in order for it to occur. For instance, someone is in charge of that stadium, as owner or manager. How did it come to be used?

I agree - it's awfully hard to hold out hope in the face of such brutality.