Friday, March 20, 2009

Patriarchy to the Extreme

Not a whole lot to comment on regarding this BBC article, "Afghan women who turn to immolation," other than it's just disturbing. The level of patriarchy in our world is truly unimaginable.

On a side note, the more I peruse the
blogosphere cataloging examples of inequality and violence, the less I am surprised to read them. I've been doing some research on media violence and whether or not it desensitizes youth to real world violence, some of which argues chronic exposure to video game violence can have negative and long-term consequences. I wonder in some ways if that's happening to me. In any case, that's getting a bit off track here and not really the best comparison.

Now back on track, the advent of an arranged marriage coupled with rigid gender role expectations and a violent enforcement of those roles appears to lead to an increase in cases of self-immolation in some parts of Afghanistan.

From the BBC story:

Anargol says she had committed self-immolation after arguing with her husband.

When asked whether she had a message for other women, she had a shocking response.

"Don't burn yourself," she said, lying on her hospital bed. "If you want a way out, use a gun: it's less painful."

It was an absolute cry of despair, and something rarely heard from women in this deeply conservative society.

But according to Soraya Balaigh, director of the provincial department for women's affairs, it is an emotion that many women relate to.

"Pressure is often put on these women by their husbands or the mothers-in-law," she says.

"Violence is common and many women are desperate. I had a woman in this office who begged me to kill her here rather than send her back."

Of course what happens outside of the western world is so often portrayed in contrast to what "we" are not. Surely, the degree to which patriarchal culture is embedded across societies varies, as are the structural arrangements that perpetuate them. Still, violent control over women exists even in Hawaii's "island paradise," where domestic slayings have reached a ten year high (the tragedy that prompted this story occurred about a mile from where I live).

To read a more uplifting story, go HERE, about a woman from Morocco who escaped an arranged marriage and now works in Virginia as a successful professional mixed martial arts fighter and instructor.

(Photo courtesy of BBC)

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