Saturday, 1 December 2012

Young girls forced to wed?

Afghan girl killed over refusal to wed
Friday, November 30, 2012 » 05:56am
taken direct from the Bigpond Home News page. 

Two men have been arrested for slitting the throat of an Afghan girl after her family refused a marriage proposal, police say.
The girl was carrying water from a river to her village home in northern Kunduz province on Wednesday when she was murdered, police spokesman Sayed Sarwar Hussaini told AFP.
'The two men attacked her and slit her throat with a knife,' he said on Thursday. 'They were arrested and are in police custody.'
Hussaini said one of the suspects had proposed marriage to the girl, but her family had rejected the offer.
Extreme violence against women and girls remains a major problem in the conservative Muslim nation more than a decade after US-led troops brought down the notoriously brutal Taliban Islamist regime.
According to figures by British charity organisation Oxfam, 87 per cent of Afghan women report having experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence or forced marriage.
Last month a 20-year-old woman was beheaded by her husband's family in the western province of Herat after she refused to become a prostitute, police said. Four people were arrested over the brutal killing.
And in September, five people were arrested over the public flogging of a 16-year-old girl for allegedly having an affair.
The girl was whipped 100 times in front of village elders and family members in central Ghazni province. Her alleged boyfriend was fined.
Unmarried girls are often confined to the home and forbidden from maintaining any contact with men outside the immediate family.


But it is not only conservative Muslim cultures where girls and women are effectively slaves to the men in their family. There are certain Christian cults where the Master, Divine Leader - whatever they call him -have claimed access to the girls as a right. Even in the sort of  Christian derivative sects whose representatives come knocking at your door - they invariably preach that women are very much second class citizens.

In past centuries, European cultures were just as bad as the Taliban would have it now - young girls married off without the option, girls kept in strict seclusion, women unable to earn a living and deprived of an education, men exhorted to keep control of their wives to the point where beatings are condoned, even 'honour killings.'

But mainly, western cultures are far more enlightened in the treatment of women. Women may complain of being ignored in conversation, or being passed over for a job, but they are far from slaves.

I am now working on the third in my Shuki series. Shuki lives in a culture where girls are given away as brides, often without any consultation, where they are regarded as marriageable from the age of thirteen, and where, if they're not found to be 'pure' on the wedding night, they are lucky if they escape with only a beating.  I have not preached directly against these customs in my books - they are just a part of the culture. It seems to me that if anyone reads and does not recognise the cruelty and injustice behind these customs, they must be ignorant indeed. 

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