Law Protecting Afghanistan Women Blocked By Conservatives
By KAY JOHNSON 05/18/13 08:03 AM ET EDT
KABUL, Afghanistan — Conservative religious lawmakers in Afghanistan blocked a law on Saturday that aims to protect women’s freedoms, with some arguing that parts of it violate Islamic principles or encourage women to have sex outside of marriage.
The failure highlights how tenuous women’s rights remain a dozen years after the ouster of the hard-line Taliban regime, whose strict interpretation of Islam kept Afghan women virtual prisoners in their homes.
Khalil Ahmad Shaheedzada, a conservative lawmaker for Herat province, said the legislation was withdrawn shortly after being introduced in parliament because of fierce opposition from religious parties who said parts of the law are un-Islamic.
“Whatever is against Islamic law, we don’t even need to speak about it,” Shaheedzada said.
The Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women has actually been in effect since 2009 by presidential decree. It is being brought before parliament now because lawmaker Fawzia Kofi, a women’s rights activist, wants to cement it with a parliamentary vote to prevent its reversal by any future president who might be tempted to repeal it to satisfy hard-line religious parties.
Among the law’s provisions are criminalizing child marriage and banning “baad,” the traditional practice of selling and buying women to settle disputes. It also criminalizes domestic violence and specifies that rape victims should not face criminal charges for fornication or adultery.
“We want to change this decree as a law and get the vote of parliamentarian for this law,” said Kofi, who is herself running for president in next year’s elections. “Unfortunately, there were some conservative elements who are opposing this law. What I am disappointed at is because there were also women who were opposing this law.”
Afghanistan’s parliament has more than 60 female lawmakers, mostly due to constitutional provisions reserving certain seats for women.
The child marriage ban and the idea of protecting female rape victims from prosecution were particularly heated subjects in Saturday’s parliamentary debate, said Nasirullah Sadiqizada Neli, a conservative lawmaker from Daykundi province.
Neli suggested that removing the custom – common in Afghanistan – of prosecuting raped women for adultery would lead to social chaos, with women freely engaging in extramarital sex safe in the knowledge they could claim rape if caught.
Lawmaker Shaheedzada also claimed that the law might encourage promiscuity among girls and women, saying it reflected Western values not applicable in Afghanistan.
“Even now in Afghanistan, women are running from their husbands. Girls are running from home,” Shaheedzada said. “Such laws give them these ideas.”
Freedoms for women are one of the most visible – and symbolic – changes in Afghanistan since 2001 U.S.-led campaign that toppled the Taliban regime. Aside from their support for al-Qaida leaders, the Taliban are probably most notorious for their harsh treatment of women under their severe interpretation of Islamic law.
For five years, the regime banned women from working and going to school, or even leaving home without a male relative. In public, all women were forced wear a head-to-toe burqa veil, which covers even the face with a mesh panel. Violators were publicly flogged or executed. Freeing women from such draconian laws lent a moral air to the Afghan war.
Since then, women’s freedoms have improved vastly, but Afghanistan remains a deeply conservative culture, especially in rural areas.
Associated Press writer Rahim Faiez contributed in Kabul.
I subscribe to a website called GoodReads.com, where I keep track of the books I read and get great recommendations from seeing what my GoodReads friends are reading. They also send me a newsletter a couple times a month, one a general newsletter, and one customized based on authors it sees me reading regularly. This morning, I got the general newsletter (which I actually do skim) and when I reached the end, I read this chilling poem.
When we lived in Kuwait, the first two lines of the poem were a reality. A first wife whose husband was taking a second wife set fire to the celebration tent where the women were celebrating. While the bride escaped, several lives were lost in a horrifying fire, fed by an accelerant.
Joan Colby captures the power and rage of the woman, scorned, in every culture.
A Woman Scorned
by Joan Colby (Goodreads Author)
A woman scorned sets fire to the tent
Where the new wife is celebrating.
Carves her name and yours into a tree
Then chops that tree down with her nail file.
Cages a bird and teaches it to speak
In a language where every verb is an obscenity.
Combs her hair with broken glass until
It glitters like a million diamonds
That you stroke until your hands bleed rubies.
Watches how you sit quietly near the water
While she poisons the tea she is about to serve.
Drives a team of black horses down the avenue
Of your lovers whipping them white as judges.
Climbs through the window that you forgot to secure
Wearing a burglar suit sewn of her eyelashes.
Picks a bouquet of jimson weed, hydrangea,
Lily of the valley, poison ivy, rhododendron
To prove the base and beautiful can both be lethal.
Paints graffiti on the wall of your Facebook
And for good measure stamps a letter with your heartsblood.
Enters your dream unbidden
Wearing the scarlet dress you once admired.
Paces up and down, up and down
Before your place of business.
Removes all the signposts pointing to
The street you used to live on when you were happy.
From today’s Lectionary reading, the Gospel:
GOSPEL: Luke 15: 1 – 3, 11b – 32 (RCL)
Luke 15: 1 – 3, 11 – 32 (Roman Catholic)
Luke 15:1 (NRSV) Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2 And the Phar’isees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
3 So he told them this parable:
11 Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living.
14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything.
17 But when he came to himself he said, “How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.” ‘
20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, “Quickly, bring out a robe–the best one–and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.
25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, “Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’
28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, “Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’
31 Then the father said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”
Sometimes people will leave off the part about the elder son, and just concentrate on the return of the younger son, focusing on the father watching always, hoping for the return of the younger son, ready to forgive and welcome before the words can even get out of the younger son’s mouth.
It is wonderful, and reassuring, for those of us sinners.
Many, however – including me – can also identify with the oldest son who says “I’ve always done everything right and you’ve NEVER given me a tiny goat, much less a fatted calf, and you’re throwing this party for the son who blew his entire fortune on louche living???”
It doesn’t seem fair, does it? Isn’t that really the point of the story, that we can’t behave our way into heaven, it is sheer grace, the love of the heavenly creator, that allows us in? It’s not an easy concept to wrap my mind around, so today I struggle to take it in, and I give thanks for Father Neil who tackles the hard questions and doesn’t just sweep them under the carpet because they are inconvenient. (The sermon isn’t up yet, but when it is available, you will find it here)
No, no, this was not Rihanna and Chris Brown, it just sort of SEEMED familiar, like their story. Bottom line, Law and Order SVU is saying, if a guy hits you, abuses you, it is not likely to get better. You stay, you risk, at the very least, continued and increasing damage at best, increasing violence toward those you hold dear, even brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and CHILDREN to the self-centeredness of the violent abuser, and ultimately, many abuse victims end up dead. It’s not a story about Rihanna and Chris; it’s a story about every woman who stacks up economic realities against a violent outcome and chooses to stay.
‘Law & Order: SVU’ Tackles The Chris Brown-Rihanna Story Of Abuse, Reconciliation
It’s a staple of the “Law & Order” franchise to rip stories straight from the headlines. For the latest episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” the case was one that is very familiar to music fans, and remains as controversial today as it was when the story first broke in 2009. Using obvious counterparts, “SVU” tackled the Chris Brown and Rihanna story.
Brown assaulted Rihanna in 2009 before the Grammy Awards. The two have since reconciled and have remained linked romantically off and on since then. In the “SVU” episode they were Micha and Caleb. Just like Rihanna, Micha was assaulted by Caleb. The case went to trial, but the two reconciled. But “SVU” took their story further down a dark path.
In this fiction, Caleb finally went too far and killed Micha. “Shocked fans gathered in Manhattan tonight to mourn the death of rising talent, Micha Green, whose body was discovered a few hours ago in Bermuda,” a reporter said in the aftermath of hear death.
Did they take it too far? E! wondered that very thing, while Hollywood Life worried that the ending could hit too close to home for the real couple, writing, “Overall, the show took some liberties … but pretty much wrapped things up exactly as they are: Chris is a violent man and Rihanna accepts a bad man in her life. How sad!”
Relationship Anxiety Is Hard On The Immune System, Study Says
This is from AOL News/Huffpost:
Relationship anxiety is known to be tough on a person’s mental well-being, but a new study suggests that fear of rejection — and worry that someone doesn’t love you enough — can also serve as chronic stressors that tax the immune system.
In a study of 85 couples who’d been married for an average of 12 years, a team of researchers led by Lisa Jaremka with Ohio State University College of Medicine examined the level of anxiety participants had about close relationships, as well as samples of their blood and saliva.
They found that the levels of cortisol — a hormone associated with stress — were on average 11 percent higher in people with higher levels of attachment anxiety than those who were less anxious. In addition, the more anxious people had between 11 percent and 20 percent fewer T-cells, which help the body to fight off disease.
“The thing that was surprising was the magnitude of the difference, especially in the immune cells that we saw,” Jaremka told The Huffington Post. “Some of the differences in the immune cell numbers, between the higher and the less high anxious attached people, were on the magnitude of what you’d see between obese and non-obese people.”
Attachment styles are believed to be derived from the type of caregiving people experienced in childhood, but the effects extend to, and impact, relationships in adulthood.
Most people are bound to have some level of concern and stress during the ups and downs of a relationship, Jaremka explained to HuffPost. But those with higher levels of attachment anxiety are hypersensitive to signs that a person they’re close to will leave them on a regular basis. They’re also more likely to seek reassurance and interpret their partner’s behaviors in a negative way.
Because the team did not include study participants who fell on the very high end of the anxiously attached spectrum, it’s possible that the effects of relationship anxiety could be even greater than the study suggests. Incidentally, while more women in the study suffered from higher levels of attachment anxiety, the researchers saw the same elevated levels of cortisol and lower T-cells in the men who were anxious.
Previous research had already established that relationship anxiety can have negative effects on a person’s physical health, but less was known about how exactly the anxiety and the health effects related to one another.
According to the Wall Street Journal, it’s believed that about 20 percent of the population falls on the anxious side of the anxiously attached spectrum. Another 25 percent fall into the avoidant category, which means those people may not get close to their partner out of fear that it could lead to a loss of autonomy.
Experts told the Journal that emotional opposites are often initially attracted to one another, but they may eventually face obstacles if they exacerbate one other’s attachment tendencies. For example, an anxious person might push for more affection and attention. This behavior might make an avoidant partner pull further away, in turn, making the anxious person even more insecure.
Despite the negative effects that attachment styles can have on a person’s relationships and physical health, Jaremka explained these traits are not inalterable.
“Anybody that is experiencing something that feels like high levels of attachment anxiety would think, ‘Oh great I’m doomed, but I think it’s important to acknowledge the fact that just because you are highly anxiously attached now doesn’t mean you have to be that way forever,” Jaremka told HuffPost. “We do know based on research that people can change and people can be very anxiously attached in one relationship and not at all in a different relationship.”
So what kind of relationship can serve as an antidote to pre-existing anxiety? One with a secure partner.
“If they are a very caring and loving and responsive partner, who attends to your needs when you need them, who is there for you when you’re stressed…Those relationships seem to be the types of relationships that people are able to feel secure in and are able to overcome anxieties in, if they have them,” Jaremka said.
The study, titled “Attachment Anxiety Is Linked to Alterations in Cortisol Production and Cellular Immunity,” is slated to be published in the journal Psychological Science.
The Age of Miracles is a very odd name for this book, which starts off in a beautiful little coastal town in California, a very normal, modern town, and then everything changes. Suddenly, the earth’s rotation is slowing, incrementally, but resulting in longer and longer days and longer and longer nights. The difference is small at first, but grows.
Julia is in sixth grade, a painful time anyway in most lives where your body suddenly changes and all your relationships with all your friends change, and boys become a major factor. Imagine. All this AND the earth’s rotation is slowing.
No one knows what to expect. No one knows why or how the rotational slowing is happening, and no one has a clue how to fix it. Do you stay on a 24 hour clock, as the days grow to 30 hours? Forty hours? Can you even function in a forty hour day, or sleep a 40 hour night? How do you stay on a 24 hour clock and force yourself to sleep when the sun is shining brightly overhead? How do you have a school day entirely in the middle of the darkest part of the night? How does food continue to grow? What impact does this have on birds? Migrations? How does kicking a soccer ball feel when earth’s gravitational field starts to lessen?
The author does a brilliant job in a what-if situation, and manages to make it quite real. Don’t read this book if you are the suggestible type – it’s just one more thing you’ll start worrying about when you don’t need to. If you can read speculative fiction without letting it influence you, then by all means read this book, it is a good read.