Friday, November 30, 2007

Good for Cherie Blair and "On Not Being a Sausage"

I was looking for a report on the interview with Cherie Blair just aired on the BBC, which opened my eyes and those of many others to the plight of widows (and their children) around the world, and found this instead, on the On Not Being a Sausage blog:

Cherie Blair's speech on Women's Human Rights in the 21st Century

Has the World Gone Mad? Redux

15 days in jail for the schoolteacher who allowed her young pupils to name a teddybear Mohammed, and now there are calls for her execution...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

6 months in jail, 40 lashes or a fine if convicted...

...has the world gone mad?

Published 11.28.07 on the BBC News website:

Gillian Gibbons
Colleagues of Gillian Gibbons said she made an "innocent mistake"
A British teacher has been charged in Sudan with insulting religion, inciting hatred and showing contempt for religious beliefs.

The Foreign Office has confirmed that charges have been laid against Gillian Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool.

She was arrested in Khartoum after allowing her class of primary school pupils to name a teddy bear Muhammad.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband has said he will summon the Sudanese ambassador "as a matter of urgency".

In a statement, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was "surprised and disappointed" at the charges.

A spokesman said the first step was to "understand the rationale behind the charge", something which would be discussed by Mr Miliband and the ambassador as soon as possible.

"We will consider our response in the light of that," he added.

Lawyers say Mrs Gibbons faces six months in jail, 40 lashes or a fine if convicted.

read the rest here

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Reflections inspired by the Saudi rape case

New York Times Op-Ed Columnist
The Case for Illegal Mingling
Published: November 25, 2007
"Two hundred lashes for a woman who was raped, under any circumstances in even the most traditional country, is barbaric — period. But what also keeps tripping off my tongue is this phrase 'illegal mingling.' It seems to me that if the Middle East could use more of anything these days it is more mingling — if not between the sexes then at least between the sects."

This one gets worse and worse

Saudi government: Rape victim had illegal affair

CNN Story Highlights
  • Officials: Woman and her companion were discovered in a "compromising situation"
  • Officials: Victim and her companion caused the crime to take place
  • Woman convicted of violating law by not having a male guardian with her
  • Court more than doubled woman's original sentence of 90 lashes to 200
Here's the Western interpretation - the "woman" was 18, and engaged to be married (no word on whether the marriage was arranged, but that is probably a given) and went out with another man. While they were having sex in a car, they were dragged out and gang-raped by 7 men. Neither pressed charges, but after the woman was married, her husband found out and made a formal complaint.

Putting things in perspective: if Sharia law had been applied in the US when Son of Sam was killing people in lover's lanes, any surviving victims who were not married to each other would have been flogged and jailed for violating the law against "illegal mingling." In fact, Son of Sam might have been viewed as something of a vigilante hero...

Friday, November 23, 2007

This one's closer to home...

...although Brazil's a big country. This horrific incident took place in the northern state of Pará.

Rape case adds to Brazil jail notoriety

By Gary Duffy
BBC News, Sao Paulo

Carandiru prison in Sao Paulo. File pic
Brazilian jails have a long history of violence and overcrowding

It sometimes seems that there is little left to say about prisons and the system of detention in Brazil that still has the capacity to shock.

Even so, the report that a young woman, possibly as young as 15, was left to share a cell in a police station with around 20 men and is said to have been repeatedly sexually abused, does stand out for its sheer horror.

The fact that police officers involved then started to dispute her age, as if it mattered whether she was 15 or 20, does say something about the inability to grasp the scale of what had been done. (my emphasis)

The girl does not appear to have been helped by the involvement in the case of women officials at various levels.

Read the rest of the article here

See also: Brazil shock at woman's jail rape

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

BBC: Saudis Back Rape Victim Sentence

Authorities in Saudi Arabia have defended a judicial sentence of 200 lashes for a rape victim.

The justice ministry said in a statement that the sentence was justified because the woman was in a car with an unrelated man.

The case has aroused controversy at home and condemnation abroad.

US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton said the sentence was an outrage and urged President Bush to put pressure on Saudi King Abdullah.

The 19-year-old, who has not been named, was travelling in a car with a male friend last year, when the car was attacked by a gang of seven men who raped both of them.

"I urge President Bush to call on King Abdullah to cancel the ruling and drop all charges against this woman
Hillary Clinton

She has become known as the "Qatif girl", a reference to the largely Shia town which she comes from.

Four of the men were convicted of kidnapping - but the court also sentenced the woman and her friend to receive 90 lashes each for the crime of "illegal mingling".

Last week the court increased the woman's sentence to 200 lashes and six months in prison.

It also banned her lawyer from the courtroom and took away his licence.

Read the rest (and weep) here

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Old news

Most news stories follow the inverted pyramid structure, which I prefer to call the "ice-cream-cone" hierarchy - fresh, tasty news at the top, old, stale news at the bottom. Well, here's the "old news" at the very end of a recent CNN article on the woman who was gang raped in Saudi Arabia and sentenced to 200 lashes:

Women are subject to numerous restrictions in Saudi Arabia, including a strict dress code, a prohibition against driving and the need for a man's permission to travel or have surgery. Women are also not allowed to testify in court unless it is about a private matter that was not observed by a man, and they are not allowed to vote.

The Saudi government recently has taken some steps toward bettering the situation of women in the kingdom, including the establishment earlier this year of special courts to handle domestic abuse cases, adoption of a new labor law that addresses working women's rights, and creation of a human rights commission (my emphasis).

Friday, November 16, 2007

Maureen Dowd is finally getting it (not to dis Dowd - I'm a big fan)

NY Times Op-Ed Columnist
Should Hillary Pretend to Be a Flight Attendant?
Published: November 14, 2007
Stories have been popping up that suggest that evolution is moving forward in a circuitous route.

Gang-raped and sentenced to 200 lashes (plus jail time)

If you think rape victims are violated all over again when they go to the police and take their attackers to court, consider the fate of this woman, who had the bad luck to be gang-raped while "violating laws on segregation of the sexes" in Saudi Arabia: