Thursday, January 30, 2014

Time to Say:NO! Gang rape prescribed for punishment is not even medieval! It is inhuman!

A Village Council sentenced a girl to gang rape in West Bengal

(Apologies it was not Bangladesh as earlier reported here) Also note that in the link the word 'alleged' is used. We have no source of authentication but we know these things do happen. 

Her case did not get deep media attention and so some have wondered if it is for real.

 In many Village Councils there are no women. When women became chiefs in some villages, rape was punished more severely. It was so in Ndumberi, Kiambu in Kenya. Is a world in which decisions on crimes affecting women a moral world?

Time to say: No! to this village council and a No! from all over the world. For this is lack of wisdom.
A woman and a man love. They are both tied to trees in punishment. Her family, whose parents are exposed to this humiliation are not able to pay the fine for the punishment and she is given to another kind of death. Gang rape in punishment.

Clotel's Sisters join Taslima Nasreen is saying No!

Sheer shock is what one experiences upon hearing the news.
There is no use wishing it is not true. It is. A woman has been sentenced to gang rape in Bangladesh. Why would anyone make up such a story if not true?

Past stories about women caught up in very unjust situations fade into insignificance. How did it happen that not even one person, one man failed to see that this could not be and stand up against such a punishment? 

It beats the mind. A man was disgusted and asked, why would one want or wish to see even their semen mix with other or those organs? How bad can it get?

So stories heard before about punishing women literally fail us. Might there be so many other unreported cases? What if? Will the responsible media follow up this story and find out more. 

Will laws in defence of women and girls, and that is guarding society, be implemented without more pressure? And international pressure at that, for sometimes the lone voice drowned in an environment in which people hear no one else just does not work.

Long struggles

For women have fought for ages even where it is assumed they were silent. 

 Editing Black Orphea- an anthology that is soon to be published-
we read a letter against Female Genital Mutilation written on 25th December 1931. 

The letter from Ngo ya Tuiritu, which means The Girls' Shield is in the volume Women Writing Africa, Eastern Africa a publication of The Feminist Press in New York. It addressed to the Local Native Council South Nyeri is written in Kikuyu. It is a letter opposing Female Genital Mutilation.

It contains the reasons why. 

1. " ...we get astonished because they (men) do not give birth and feel the pain and even some die and others become infertile, and the main cause is circumcision.

2. Because the main cause of the issue of circumcision should not be forced. People caught like sheep; one should be allowed to cut her won way of either agreeing to be circumcised or not without being dictated on one's body. (Kenya now outlaws FGM by law but that is not to say it is not practised)...

6. Now, what we ask from the government, because Gikuyu men have more power than women, is that women be assisted in their complaints by the government to avoid further suppression.
                                                                            The letter was translated by Joseph Kariuki Muriithi

Without protection, the knife would have been turned to a girl who refused to be cut in a film with the condition that she would not be circumcised. The film SAFA is on the life of Waris Dirie of the Desert Flower Foundation in Vienna is well known.  

So far the actor-girl who plays Waris has been protected. And yet, not without some pressure from some even if she acted in a film in which she rejected the cut. 

It is noted that the usual pressure did come up from her grandmother in the past. What does this tell us? This is a terrible custom that not only refuses to die even hard but also resurrects in many communities. Scientists are yet to work out why this happens. This Foundation is based in Vienna. 

In the meantime the government of Norway and other EU countries are spending much money helping women who got cut under this custom to get surgical surgery for restoration. 

These women, mainly from Eritrea and Somalia, do this only if they have support from their families as NRK radio reported last week. And this support is not always given because this custom has very strong guardians in different communities. So powerful are they that it is alive and kicking also in the Central part of Kenya where women started fighting it as early as 1928. 

Although a different topic deserving more space, for Clotel´s Sisters, there is a direct correlation between this custom and male dominance in political positions. Recent comments from some powers in Central Kenya, again used as an example, are supported by many people. This is an advanced place, where single mothers are supposed to walk with their heads down. s

There is always a reason for putting women down and even if FGM culture cheats women that after the cut they become powerful, to the deep individual psyche, it says: Hate the dearest part of you, hate pleasure. For the clitoris is cut to reduce female feelings and stop her apparently from going to other men. The contradiction is that it is men who have insisted in having many wives now and in the past. 

The persistence of FGM and very degrading comments on women sometimes making headlines, reminds me of a grass that used to invade our land and which my Mother was always uprooting. Every time she dug really deep and got the latest shoots out but when we came back to the land, the grass was always back. In time, however, she conquered. 

It is time that women got over and done with this so that sights can be set on other issues. Yes, cultures sometimes do change almost overnight. It depends on the moral authority of those who call for the change. In this case, such a person or spirit lacks.

Or should we say that the many people who speak out about this speak out now and again and are not supported constantly enough by both the media and the political powers and so, it becomes an issue to cover from time to time especially on International Women´s Day. Of course we know this also calls not just for big voices but persistent grassroots work. And there are many women at work to even help girls physically escape from homes that are about to have them mutilated. They are taken to school. It is information on such that is not often heard too.

I dream about the disappearance of this custom in Asia and in Africa as well as other major world cities where immigrants cut their own. One day, gone! Yes, gone! It is not impossible.