Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Scoring political points with women

Years ago I noticed that some young men in online debates denounced foreign cultures for the treatment of women in those cultures. Western men told horror stories about Muslim women being forced to wear 'mobile tent prisons' - burqas - and being enslaved by abusive and elderly husbands. Pakistani Muslims attacked Indian troops for 'torturing innocent & unarmed Muslims in Kashmir, raping Muslims women and killing and burning them', and insulted the sexual liberalism of the West. Indians reminded Pakistanis of violence during Bangladesh's war for freedom and of Pakistan's 'raping close to a 400000 Bengali Muslim and Hindu women'.

I wondered then if these men cared less about the well being of the women they were so furiously defending than simply scoring points against their foreign rivals.

I'm wondering the same thing now as stories and allegations are leaking out of Libya about mass-rape by Gaddafi's forces. Right now, here are the most read stories on BBC:

The Pakistani story deals with a case in which men forced a woman to parade naked through a village because her son was alleged to have committed adultery.

This is not to say that these stories are fantasy. But I wonder at the sudden excitement over alleged rape of Libyan women when a coalition are trying to justify their intervention there to war-weary populations.

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