We’ve all heard the horrid stories of how commonplace rape is in India. We saw the news articles about that young medical student who was so cruelly tortured and then tossed onto the pavement and left to die. We read about how long it takes to prosecute a rapist in India – often 10 to 14 years. We are sincere and solid in our condemnation on this heinous attack but often we think, that’s “over there” and it’s not like that here where I live. And it’s not, but that’s not the end of the story.
In India, the government says they are doing all they can to fast track this one case but since that rape of the medical student there have been several other rapes, one of a young school girl of only 12. The opinion seems to be that any women walking around at night are fair game. The medical student went to a movie escorted by a male friend. One person interviewed said she shouldn’t have been out at night because only men had that right. India seems so far away from my home in Australia.
When violence against women occurs in Muslim countries, we think that there’s nothing we can do because their religion teaches them that men are better than women and women are to be beaten by their husbands if their wives don’t do as they are told. The Qur’an states that men are the maintainers of women and if they don’t have sex with their husbands or if they want to leave it’s perfectly okay to beat them. Beatings are appropriate and necessary to keep women in their place. Not all Muslim men beat their wives, let me be clear about this, but Islam permits it. It’s not a crime to beat your wife under Islamic law. As long as a major religion says beating your wife is okay, what chance do women there have?
A bit closer to home at our nearest neighbour in Indonesia, a candidate for the Indonesian Supreme Court (maybe I should type that twice for emphasis) was being interviewed this week by politicians to determine his suitability for the position. When asked if the death penalty should be given for rape, he joked that it should not because rape victims enjoy the rape as much as the perpetrator. It’s okay to pick your teeth up off the floor now.
We look at the issues in India and we think, “many poorly educated men, improperly taught about the rights of women,” and we can understand where they’re coming from even while condemning their actions. The jerk in Indonesia going for the top legal job in the country is well educated and well respected. What does that say about how the upper levels of government there feel about women? To them women are not equal to a man, they have few rights and are on this planet to serve men. That’s how I view this.
Now back home in Australia. A heavily pregnant woman and her husband and child went to a car park last week so they could pick up some potting mix. The woman was really tired so she stayed in the car while her husband and little boy went into the shop. While sitting her her car she heard a man shout and then she saw a woman running past her car. Following the woman was a man that looked really angry and yelling, “Get back here,” and raising his fist.
Another woman saw the incident and she got out of her car and along with the pregnant woman tried to break up the fight – the man had grabbed his wife by the throat and had thrown her to the ground. The perp saw the women coming after him and dragged his beaten wife into his car and drove away.
You might be thinking that these women are to be praised for trying to help and you’d be right but that’s not the whole story. Standing around watching the guy beat his wife were several men who seemed to be watching the show as if that was a personal problem and none of their business. The man owned the wife, right? He can do what he wants with her and it’s none of our business, right?
Where do these notions come from and what do we as a nation have to do in order to change this culture? It’s no wonder women are paid less than men for the same work when the assumption by men is that we are somehow worth less. Violence against women is preventable but it will take all of us to do our part.
We women need to do more to assert our equality.