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Facing Up to Rape in Afghanistan

Rape is an endemic problem in Afghanistan. Whether women are forced into arranged marriages as child brides, or attacked by family members or local warlords, they are often held responsible for their own victimization. Afghan culture views a woman's virginity as sacrosanct, but Afghan law rarely gives her the chance to defend herself. Many women are thrown out of their families following, or even jailed.

And yet, things are changing. Earlier this summer, Afghan president Hamid Karzai pardoned three men convicted of gang-raping a woman in the northern province of Samangan. The rape took place in 2005 in front of the woman's village, after she had harangued the local warlord's men for forcing her son to become a soldier. At the time the case attracted little attention, and Mr. Karzai probably thought his pardons of three men, who had been sentenced to 11 years in prison, would also slip by unnoticed. The men all come from an influential tribe in the region.

Instead the case has been widely reported throughout the local and national media. Women's rights groups, activists and politicians are up in arms at the injustice. Some might argue that with an election approaching, Mr. Karzai's many enemies are simply using the subject to undermine him - but that does not change the fact that a rape case, and the issues of women's abuse, has taken center stage.

Our next guest voice author, Zarghuna Kargar, notes that an increasing number of rape victims and their families are going public with their cases. Zarghuna, who ran the BBC's Afghan Women's Hour for three years, has spoken to dozens of abused women and is currently writing a book about women in Afghanistan. Here, she tells the story of the family of one rape victim and their search for justice.

By Zarghuna Kargar

The girl is thirteen years old and she has been raped, and yet by Afghan standards she is one of the luckier ones. Her family has recognized her trauma and is trying to get her some sort of justice; in many families, she might be viewed as an object of shame and thrown out. The fact that her family members have chosen to stand by her, and that they even spoke out on Afghan national television last month, is an important change in how Afghans view the abuse of women. And the furor surrounding President Karzai's pardons of convicted gang-rapists in a separate case, which a few years ago probably wouldn't have raised many eyebrows, is also testament to this change.

That's partly due to the Afghan government and international organizations' work on raising awareness. The Afghan Ministry of Women's Affairs has opened several safe houses for victims of domestic violence, and USAID has funded a number of publicity drives across the country. The initiative has in turn been picked up by TV and radio programs, which have deliberately confronted such taboo subjects as rape and domestic violence with the aim of encouraging people to recognize their own human rights (not to mention the dual aim of attracting a larger audience).

But I don't want to sound unduly optimistic. Although Afghans may be talking, in limited ways, about rape for the first time, incidents of rape have not decreased. Recent Afghan government sources say that in the last month, twenty five cases of rape in Northern Afghanistan have been registered with the police. The victims were mostly children, and mostly weak and vulnerable. In this girl's case, she was raped by the local warlord, a man with money and guns who expects to get whatever he wants. Those who file complaints are shunned by their communities and in some cases have been raped again by those in power.

All of this makes this case, and the victim's family's advocacy for justice, a remarkable act of courage. Her maternal uncle, Ali Khan, a farmer, notified local media about what had happened but would not name the warlord, when he appeared on television, for fear of retaliation.

"The police chief didn't listen to me - he threatened me of being killed if I spoke about it," Khan said. "I went with my sister and her disabled husband [the girl's father]. He didn't help us because the gangs who raped my niece were powerful and the police chief warned us not to talk to anyone about it." But Khan persisted with his media campaign, contacting local and international journalists. So far no one has been charged.

In another rape case in July, President Karzai dismissed five police officials for failing to act promptly enough in the case. The act by the president sends out the right message, but for every case like this girls, there are a hundred women whose plight is ignored.

Zarghuna Kargar is a broadcast journalist at BBC World Service, and the former anchor of Afghan Women's Hour. The name of the girl in this report has been changed to protect her identity.

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Comments (36)

Usama:

There is no country or nation in the world that meets the minimal Shariah requirements to be representative of Islam. The last remaining state was the Uthmani khilafah (its official and legal identification), called the Ottoman empire by Orientalists.
Incidently, there is no leader of the Muslim world. And just like a family that has no leader, the sons fight amongst each other, the mother struggles to keep things together, the daughter looks out on the street for a man to love her.
Which company advances and becomes an asset rather than liability to its community without a president/owner/head?

________________________

As for the situation in Sudan, what about the 1947 juba conference revolt by Southern Sudanese against British mandates and nationbuilding? its most notable that Joseph Garang, after years of fighting Khartoum he gets peace and DENIES independence for South Sudan, opting for national unity, he dies in a plane crash. Garang, the father of the SPLA, opted for national unity, not independence. Who advocates independence?

Independence for Southern Sudan may serve Israeli and American interests ( ecspecially oil interests), but its a disservice and detriment to southern Sudanese. Land locked and dependent on the goodwill of Kenya to get to the coast? Dependent on Uganda? Dependent on Khartoum to allow Nile access beyond Nubian borders? Dependent on Israel/America/British for military power and sovereignty? Another signee to the Victoria/Nile water treaty?

Khartoum and Sudan has been manipulated by panArab/ Egyptian led interests, wrongly so in my opinion. Omar Bashir was trained in an Egyptian military academy, financed by America no less. And Israel has sought to diminish Egyptian influence in Sudan by supporting the SPLA AND the Eritrean backed east Sudanese rebels. But such a tiny nation as south Sudan, or Nubia if you like, could not function EXCEPT as a quasi- vassal state. And given European colonial history in Africa, Nubia would join the list of yet another vassal state with a tiny national government which promotes stories of Nubian nationalism eons ago, but is totally a servant to some foreign power, perhaps even serving as the seat of AFRICOM, America's African command: the beachhead for American imperial hegemony.

South Sudanese demands for $$$ for societal development, education, economic growth, is fair and just. But national independence? Today, the world is unifying for shared interests. The EU, ASEA, GATT, NAFTA, even the Meditteranean nations are developing a common trade market. Who opts for becoming tinier, weaker, more dependent?

halozcel:

Usama,

*Sudan is not representetive of islam*
Saudi Arabia is not,
ISLAMIC Republic of Iran is not,
Afghanistan is not,
Malaysia is not,
Libya,Hamasistan,Pakistan are not.

Among those 57 states,is there any muslim country representing submission ?

To Stupid,

*did I too offensive...????*

Correct sentence; Was I too offensive...?

Observer:

Usama explains:
“After independence, the south (of Sudan) refused to follow the north and waged their wars.”

Where did you learn your history? In a madrassas?
The British tried to protect the South by putting it under a separate administration. The British left Sudan after they had received a guarantee from the North that the South would be given the freedom to chose between federation or separation. The North reneged on their promise, and flooded the South with looters, brigands and slave traders. That is when the 50 years war began . This whole argument is now merely academic because it is now confederated with the North, and in 2011 it shall be an independent state.

Anonymous:

"According to the FBI, there are est. 50,000 people in America in bondage/slavery at any given time."
__________________________


Yeah . . . but here it's ILLEGAL - as more than a few Saudi nationals have discovered to their profound surprise and disappointment. Heh. :)

stupid:

come on Wapo.. did I too offensive...????

Enough judging others.. look at the mirror.. see the truth.

Usama:

Anonymous, there is no Muslim country today in the world which makes slavery lawful. All abolition them, and the Organization of Islamic Conference, OIC, had a conference in which all 54 nations abolished them.

However, there are many countries which tolerate slavery, including sex slavery: India, Israel, Thailand, to name a few. Oman and Niger too.

In fact, Mr or Miss Anonymous, at this time in human history, the UN recently reported that there are more slaves, including child slaves and sex slaves, than in any time in human history.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-op-skinner23mar23,0,6610271.story

According to the FBI, there are est. 50,000 people in America in bondage/slavery at any given time.

Really, the world is led by America and the Capitalist World Order, but there are now more slaves than at any time in history.

Anonymous:

The only countries in the world that still practice slavery openly are islamic. Trafficking among the islaqmic states on the east coast of Africa didn't stop until those awful colonialists, the Brits, stopped it by FORCE. Most of the gulf states didn't outlaw the practice until the 1960's and 70's. . . .But of course, that's always somebody else's fault. (And the fact that the Quran, the example of Mohammad, and many of your most respected scholars all agree that slavery is entirely permissible in the context of jihad is completely beside the point. ).

For those interested in truth rather than taqqiyah, the website 'Answering Islam' has a thorough and very fair treatment under "islam and slavery." They're apparently under some kind of Dos attack or something right now, so you may have to look at it a bit later.

Usama:

Sudan is not representative of Islam either.

The wrongdoings of the previous generations of Muslims that enslaved southern Sudanese were not RIGHTED or CURED by the secular British empire that colonized Sudan. Rather, they intentionally turned the southern Sudanese against the northerners by failing to develop it. After decades of British rule, the secular British exacerbated the divisions between the two regions. After independence, the south refused to follow the north and waged their wars.

But back then, the north were secular socialists tied to Gamal Abdul Nasser (with USSR/USA backing)and the south were backed by the British and Israelis. But America encouraged the Egyptians and Sudanese to part from their ties to the USSR and communism by encouraging Islamic nationalist movements. [Incidently, Israel also helped Hamas come to power in order to rival the PLO].

The Islamic stylized Sudanese nationalist movement led by Turabi was taken over by General Bashir who was trained by the US backed Egyptian military. Remember that America has been giving billions to Egypt's military since 1979?

Bashir, the product of US/Egyptian military authoritarianism, has ruled Sudan since 1991. He is the one who chooses to invoke the ancient standard of warfare that captives are enslaved- the Prophet Muhammad (saaw) didn't command him to do this. BTW, Israeli and US backed southern Sudanese tribes also enslaved people, making it a TIT for TAT affair.
In fact warfare in Sudan has been going on as long as foreign powers found motivations for turning different tribes against each other, and the USA, USSR, Israel, Britain, France, Uganda, Eritrea, Chad, Libya have all contributed to continued war, conflict, misery in Sudan. Its no surprise to me that another nation with Muslims that have suffered from decades of proxy war by foreign powers resort to warped, backwards ideas of Islam in order to find some peace from the ravages of war.

Incidently, after 15 years of desolated collapsed state governance, the Somali people finally established a government based on Islam. There was no slavery, just law, order, stability.

__________________

But of course this thread isn't concerned about Muslim women, its concerned about attacking Islam and destroying people's beliefs and hopes in it.

Omar:

" . . And the Prophet Muhammad (saaw)'s consensual, moral, legal, and upstanding relations with Maryam and Rayhana was based on the legitimacy of slavery as an alternative institution that complimented and supported the family in society."
__________________________

And I'm sure these Sundanese women (living in 21st century, btw) are ever so grateful for upstanding example Mohammad set with his numerous sex slav . . .oh, I mean "right hand possessions":

"A decades-long civil war in Sudan had led to "growing and persistent reports of enslavement of Africans by Arabs, genocide in the Nuba Mountains area, and ethnic cleansing in the Blue Nile area," it said.

"Fundamentalist Islam and Arab fanaticism play a very important role in this."

http://www.sudanreeves.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=375&page=1
________________________________________________

Islamic justification? YOU BET:

"The main author of the Saudi religious curriculum expressed his unequivocal support for the legalization of slavery in one of his lectures recorded on a cassette and obtained exclusively by SIA news.

"Leading government cleric Sheikh Saleh Al-Fawzan is the author of the religious books currently used to teach 5 million Saudi students, both within the and in Saudi schools aboard – including those in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

“Slavery is a part of Islam,” he says in the tape, adding: “Slavery is part of jihad, and jihad will remain as long there is Islam.”

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1018026/posts

Scholarly article:

For a scholarly article that cleared up related issues for me, see Asifa Quraishi, "Her Honor: An Islamic Critique of the Rape Laws of Pakistan from a Woman-Sensitive Perspective," in Windows of Faith: Muslim Women Scholars-Activists in North America, ed. Gisela Webb (Syracuse University Press, 2000). This article was first published in the Michigan Journal of International Law (1997). Dr. Quraishi is a professor at the University of Wisconsin who specializes in Islamic law and legal theory.

Usama:

As for the matter of child marriage:

since the beginning of the human family, ie. Adam and Eve and their children, PARENTS have been the responsible advocate to determine when their children are ready for marriage.
Long before the internet and legions of laptop historians and moralists, before there were nanny states, social service agencies, welfare programs, before the Equal Opportunity Acts, and before public education, parents were the sole protectors and advocates of their children. Kings, emperors, presidents, prime ministers, governments, and courts had very little to say.

Parents had to decide what was best for them because society and the economy might give them slim to no options.
For girls and women, marriage was the only moral, acceptable option. Sometimes marriage was the best option. For Aisha bint Abu Bakr (raa), marriage to the Prophet Muhammad (saaw) was the best option and Abu Bakr and his wife wisely decided in her best interest. The result: Aisha is widely seen one of Islam's greatest scholars and a towering cultural, religious and historic figure and leader.
________________________

As for female sexual development and female puberty, early sexual female puberty was known to be biologically beneficial.


"The tendency to respond to early childhood stress by accelerating pubertal development may have taken root during human evolution, as a reproductive strategy, the researchers suggest. "Over the course of our natural selective history, ancestral females growing up in adverse family environments with uncertain futures may have reliably increased their reproductive success by accelerating physical maturation and beginning sexual activity and reproduction at a relatively early age," said Ellis.

Animal research - suggesting that chemicals known as pheromones produced by unrelated adult males accelerate female pubertal development - may help explain their second finding, according to the researchers. "It seems plausible to suggest that exposure to pheromones of unrelated adult males could also influence the timing of pubertal maturation in human females," said Ellis. "However, more research is needed to determine exactly how environmental factors influence hormonal changes in girls." http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/20000225064243data_trunc_sys.shtml


While the notion of early puberty development as a result of natural selection is suspect (as if those who did not develop early died off?), it IS demonstrated to be a natural adaptation of humans likely to advance the interest of the female.

s for female development, puberty, and sexual maturity, it is known commmonly in equatorial regions and science has since confirmed that females arrived at puberty maturity
We
_____________________


If sincere and concerned readers persist on the presence of child marriages in the Muslim world today, it should be known FIRST that no nation in the world today fully represents Islam in practice as it should be. Thus, many nations are hybridizations of multiple beliefs, cultures, ideas which combine to create various national affects.
That being said, various national governments in the Muslim world arbitrarily decide on marital ages for girls and boys yet many do not educate their people or enforce these laws. Morocco has a limited age but child marriages still occur because parents percieve this to be in their daughter's best interest.

Every nation is NOT America or Europe. All the nations of North Africa combined have a smaller GDP than the tiny nation of the Netherlands. In fact poverty, high cost of education, lack of parents' education, lack of economic opportunities are the greatest factors leading to child marriages.

In comparison to many of America's neighbors, like Mexico, Haiti, Brazil, Honduras and other latin American nations, where child prostitution and child sex slavery are rampant, where abandoned children live in packs on city streets, child marriage is a legitimate traditional solution far better than the alternative.

Usama:

As for Hamid Karzai pardoning rapists:
he has proven to be a subordinate to American interests in Afghanistan. He's an oilman who worked with Cheney, Rice and the American oil plutocracy.

While Bush may not want to pardon rapists, Bush and the Neo Cons want Afghanistan to justify its ideological vision even if it has human costs. Killing babies in bombing raids is common and par for the course in NATO's assignment in Afghanistan. What's a pardon of a few rapists if it advances Karzai's reelection bid so he can continue to advance the Neo Con agenda there?

BTW, where are all the Republican and American ritewing cries over the plight of Afghanistan women now? Back in 2001, Sean Hannity, Bill OReilly, Limbaugh to Lynn Cheney were crying over the plight of Afghani women? Where are they now?

Or is it no longer politically expedient to raise the plight of Afghani women or Afghani society?

___________________________

Usama:

Fairweather said marriage is like rape?
Who is he to pass judgement on marriage?
Its quite the British/American way for consensual marriage to be 'rape' but gay orgies, swinger groups, prostitution, adultery, and 24/7 porn to be MORAL and 'accepted' ways of society.
____________________

The Prophet Muhammad (saaw) is above the judgement and moral preaching of the debaucherous and the advocates of immorality and perversity.
His marriage with Aisha (raa) was pure and good. It represented the highest standards and upheld marriage as the best institute of society.

And the Prophet Muhammad (saaw)'s consensual, moral, legal, and upstanding relations with Maryam and Rayhana was based on the legitimacy of slavery as an alternative institution that complimented and supported the family in society.

1400 years ago, slavery was a legitimate and necessary part of human civilization. Islam elevated the status of slaves offering humanity a way to gradually eradicate it permanently, though.
1400 years ago and before Islam, women were almost all illiterate with few economic options except prostitution.
____________________________

Afghanistan is a nation that has regressed to preindustrial civilization NOT BECAUSE OF ISLAM. Rather, its regression is a result of Afghanistan being the crucible for decades of warring global empires. America and the Soviet Union treated Afghanistan like its worthless sandlot where decades of destructive combat decinegrated semblances of society. After America won, it left Afghanistan to destroy and tear itself apart.
In the midst of such human devastation and civilizational destruction- on apopalyctic scale in many regards- the only thing which stands is family: mankind's longest institution.

As in desparately poor societies where literacy is near 28% (43% for men, 18% for women), notions and recollections of 'tradition' and 'religion' are all people have. As a parent with several children, and poverty, illiteracy, destitute economic stagnation certain and tribal connections the best way to a future, with the historic 'notion' of child marriage, child marriage becomes an alternative. Americans did this ecspecially in rural America up until the industrialization and development of America in the late 19th and early 20th century. Afghanistan is still at that point.


Omar:

Knower:

One small quibble. I don't think Ayesha had started menstruating yet when Mohammad began to have sexual contact with her. Whenever I come upon islamic scholars' references to "thighing" (i.e. rubbing the male member between the thighs of a prepubescent girl because she is not yet physically ready for sex), it is always justified in reference to the example of Mohammad with Ayesha (since Mohammad is Uswa Hasana, perfect man). Also, the Quran contenplates the possibility/likehood of prepubesecent sex with underage brides. Why else would it include an Idda or waiting period for divorcing those women who "haven't menstruated yet?" (I think its Q65:1 or 65:4. I need to check.)

Disgusted:

Mary,
If that was humor I am glad I missed it. My comment about "Mustapha's" statement/joke was only one small part of my post. I made many other points in response to other posts on this important topic. What I don't understand is your attitude. Maybe you have had too much coffee. Relax. It was just one person's point of view.

Knower:

Child marriage and sex with children is a very Islamic practice.

The founder of Islam, Muhammad, married Aisha when she was six and he was 52 and had sex with the child when she turned nine right after her first menstrual period. Saffiya was only 15 and Juwariyya 16 when Muhammad married them after murdering their husbands.

Two of his concubines were also children. Maria was 15 when she was given as a slave to him by the ruler of Egypt. Maria bore Muhammad his only male offspring, Ibrahim, out of wedlock. Rayhana was another Jewish widow , widowed by Muhammad, who became his sex slave. She and Maria refused to become Muslims and that is why Muhammad did not marry them.

Afghan men are only being good Muslims when they sexually abuse children.

Mary:

Uh... "Disgusted"? Do you not recognize sarcasm when you read it? "Mustapha" was using sarcasm as a form of humor. Did you REALLY think s/he was saying a three year old is ready for marriage?

Drink another cup of coffee and wake up a bit before posting anymore please.

Disgusted:

Rape, incest, sexual abuse, date rape, and sex slaves, regardless of the female's age, are all abhorent. These are sick acts of the powerful over those who are weak and defenseless. Using rape as a weapon is especially disgusting. What does it mean when someone writes here that he/she has seen one year olds who hold themselves like a three year old? They are both babies. Are you saying that a one year old who holds themselves like a three year old is ok to marry or abuse? That women and children have been abused since the beginning of time doesn't make it acceptable. Religious, legal and cultural traditions, no matter how long standing, do not make it right. Some of the comments printed here seem to suggest that they do. Do any of you have any idea what rape does to a womean's body and mind - never mind the little child's? Forced sex in any situation is rape regardless of the context. Women are beginning to speak out but few men do. Until men become outraged enough to take action other men will continue doing as they please with women and children. Sexual abuse in any form is a blight on society. For all those who have any doubts about the horror of sexual abuse I recommend you read Susan Brownmiller's book Against Our Will.

Interested:

I'm interested in the comments that shift the discussion away from the article's central issue - child rape - and focus instead on economics, etc. Is this a function of being unable to adequately respond to a crime that's so devastating and appalling? -A defensive mechanism, as it were.

Or do these responses come from the belief that child rape is a symptom of larger issues?

Borderman:

Unfortunately this world has a long histry and a long history of misuse of power. If there wasn't this evil miuse of power by the powerful, then this world would have been much, much civilized, not this greedy dog eat dog, fight over resources(oil) evil world.

Borderman:

This world has many, many traditional problems and it all stems from poor economic situation. Rich nations, with exception of Japan, all western, have offered or made us believe they are helping poor countries, whether on moral or historical grounds or both. However, the record on actually helping poor nations has been either poor performance or intentional manipulation of other nations by western institutions like the world bank. It would be much preffered if the west had its nose held back instead of sticking it to other nations, but that is not the case. Look at the labels, "democratic" and "ally." If you are an ally of the west and fit the requirments of "democratic," politically as the west deems fit, you are in good hands. Georgia's conflict with Russia is a perfect example. Georgia although it is advertised as democratic, but attacked south Ossetians and killed 2000 civilians overnight. Instead of getting punished, Georgia recieved support from the west. What if Russia had attacked Georgia and killed 2000 civilians overnight and unprovoked or Iran had done it? Besides, what democratic process did Saakashvili use to delcare war. Unfortunately, this is how the west has played its card and this is why we have so many problems in the world.


Kacoo:

With more money, Afghanistan will become more civilized. I hope we spend more to solve this terrible problem.

Borderman:

@Ken

You are right on the dangers of working in an unstable country. But these are the kind of jobs that people should and would do for intrinisic reasons, not to get filthy rich and take advantage of a situation where poor countries like Afghanistan need outside help and donor countries are willing to provide the funds. NGO personnel are living with 5star western comfort. They have dedicated cooks, house maids, drivers and other amenities that these people would not have it in the west. Every evening is a party. Besides high salary there is rampant corruption within NGO community. If all these funds weren't misused by the NGO community, many things would have improved including the incidence rate of rape and abuse of children and women. NGOs are not being responsible for the kind of service they advertise themselves. How transpernt are NGOs, what oversight or regulations they adhere to? Instead, they help themselves by taking tax payer's money in the name of poor.

Steve Howard:

To Tom Moran's earlier post, I don't recall Bush ever saying he was invading Afghanistan to defend the rights of women. That's one reason he has not offered, thank goodness. To follow your line of thinking, maybe the US should invade every African country where genital mutilation is a deep-rooted custom. Maybe we should invade eastern Europe, or south Asia, or Russia for that matter, where shadowy gangs traffic in girls for prostitution. How about Saudi Arabia? Give us a break, Tom.

Tom Moran:

Maybe some of you people will now understand what the hell were fighting for over there. BUSH IS RIGHT!

Jim:

I think that NGO's need to work on the problems in their home countries before they go overseas to showboat, posture, profile and grandstand. Why doesn't Bill Gates and his conscience stricken ilk pour some money into Appalachia instead of Africa? Why not help those who actually BOUGHT your products that made you filthy rich instead of assisting those who are on another continent? The mind of the self flagellating American white liberal and social apologist never ceases to amaze me.

Ken:

$150000. seems like a lot of money, but are you going to volunteer to go there and do some thankless job and lose your life and leave your family penniless for this money? Don't knock the people the NGOs get unless you want to take their place. There are no easy solutions to centuries old cultural problems.

anonymous:

Forcing a child of nine to marry IS child rape, regardless of cultural, legal, or religious sanction. I think I'll stop there; I don't want a fatwa declared against me forcing me into hiding.

Borderman:

Shame on posters that politicize this human tragedy between east-west or attacking Muslims in general. Child rape or abuse in Afghanistan is quite rampant, which includes forcing young girls into marriage or the abuse of young boys who have no home or forced at young age to work in harsh environments. USAID and other NGOs working in Afghanistan are absolute criminals who enjoy themselves with tax payer's money. These NGOs fund projects that are politically popular with 80% overhead, even if that. What people in the west can do is to pressure their politicians about accountability and transparency of NGOs who gets government funds. The typical $150000 (one hundred fifty thousand US dollar) most employees of these NGOs get, can build centers for abused, raped or homeless children and women in every damn province.

annabella:

Marrying a child younger than puberty is by definition child rape. However, some cultures encourage men to rear their own brides to order, as it were -- Daddy Longlegs, anyone?

When brides move into their husbands' family compounds, this further permits the "husband's" family to train the girl to their preferences. It runs somewhere between slavery and pedophilia, and can only be countenanced in a society that fails to treat a woman as a human being.

Just because our own society hasn't been much better in the recent past doesn't mean that we should accept this sort of brutality as a mere cultural variance.

It is equally as reprehensible as blowing up the Buddhas.

TooMuchIslam:

The Islamic traditions carry on since the times of Mohamed.

Anonymous:

You know, it wasn't that long ago (gosh, 30 years? 20?) that a woman or very young teen wasn't automatically judged as having done something to prompt an attack upon her person in the United States. We didn't even talk about incest (I think it was first raised on national television on "Quincy, M.D.") without a wink and a nudge. Date-rape wasn't a concept, much less a term until recently. And all of these things occur and far too few perpetrators are subject to legal action, let alone jail time.

So let's not look too far down our noses, shall we?

But I won't deny that I find arranged marriages, particularly with children involved, abhorrent. Nasty, in fact. If someone can't say "forget it!" due to age or condition (female), that's just wrong.

outraged:

What? and 3 year-olds (whether they are really 3 or 'mature' 1) are old enough to marry? Must be my 'Western' mind

Mustapha:

To the Western mind, one year olds seem too young to marry...but many are actually very mature for 1...I've known 1-year-olds who carry themselves like 3-year-olds.

mtlyorel:

The only way for these countries to make the leap to modernity is to eradicate religion from everyday life, government, and society. Only countries with strict separation of church and state will advance and prosper.

Ibrahim Mahfouz:

Recently the Mufti of Saudi Arabia issued an edict making it allowable to marry a baby as young as one year of age. We also know that many Muslims married underaged girls. The late Ayatoullah Khomeini married a nine years old girl and so did the well known daiya(Muslim missionary) Sheikh Qaradawi. How is that different than the child rape that Ms. Khargar speaks about?

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