Apparently, the world has been caught in a media storm while I’ve been resting in the peace of Grand Canyon; pictures surfacing of a crowd of Taliban men cheering the execution of a young woman who may or may not have been involved with either or both of her executioners.
Before we elevate our holy selves too high above the throng, let’s remember such atrocities happen not irregularly in the West.
Women will die similar deaths this year, as in previous years, in Australia, the US and Britain for the ‘crime’ of leaving husbands and boyfriends, and/or taking a lover, and/or being perceived to have a lover and/or any version of this story we care to tell.
Rage and righteousness, East and West.
And as for the cheering part, it’s always football season somewhere.
It could of course be argued that there is a significance difference between Afghanistan and Australia/US/Britain – and that is accountability. Then again, apparently, the Afghani woman’s executioners were themselves shot by a third man . . . and 1% of sex crimes in Australia result in conviction.
Emma Goldman said ‘as a woman I have no country; as a woman my country is the whole world’.
In the Balkans I obsessed about war, the physical and material expression of annihilation of that which we loathe and fear; in Arabia it was the inner plane, as represented by the veil, its varying shades complete with the sinister black shroud. In Istanbul I heard a western man scoff about how happy such a woman was in a family he met – this is not the point. The American poet Maya Angelou knows why the caged bird sings. The women on the streets of Damascus ranged in their degrees of shroudedness. I did not hear their voices. Their public invisibility was complete in the silence. I remembered my mother telling me as a child to not draw attention to myself when I called out. Yes, not so long ago things weren’t so different in the West
I remember women putting scarves on their heads to go out in public. I remember nuns all cloaked in black with their black veils. I remember when women could sit only in the ladies’ lounge at the pub. When a woman’s value was measured by her ability to bear children. When a ringless finger beyond a certain age was cause for the family shame. When women who were married could not work, when women’s pay was a fraction of men’s for the same work, when a woman who was raped must have been ‘asking for it’ and no-one ever, ever spoke publicly about the sexual use, these days we call it abuse, of children.
In truth, women in the West are only one step ahead. And it took a revolution to achieve that. And even then, have we not simply traded corsetry for the knife and modesty for promiscuity? We might have ‘equal rights’, but we do not have ourselves, because the jailer is within.
Extract from My Pilgrim’s Heart