Hello and welcome back to Suffragette Kitty,
Well, we raised some eyebrows – with my publicist’s long overdue for a waxing – with our Oct. 3 post. There we quoted esteemed Saudi cleric Sheikh Saleh Al-Loheidan as saying that the reason women should not be allowed to drive in the Kingdom is because it could damage their ovaries and pelvises and lead to “clinical problems” in their unborn children.
We get it. It is easy to become outraged upon hearing such claims, especially as they seem medically unproven, at least as far as WebMD is concerned. But we’re going to give Sheikh Saleh Al-Loheidan a pass as my publicist has been doing some digging into the story.
It appears that long before Sheikh Saleh Al-Loheidan was born, his mother – then just a teen – snuck behind the wheel of the family Land Rover, and took it out for a spin around the desert. That may have been many years ago, but apparently the irreparable damage to her reproductive system was done.
Sadly, poor little Sheikh Saleh Al-Loheidan sprung from a defective ovary. What chance did he have? He has since suffered serious “clinical problems,” such as being born without a filter for public-speaking engagements. Yes, it is a tragedy, but is it any less tragic than some of the absurd (our opinion) statements that have burst from leaders in the United States?
For brevity sake, we’ll just focus on the 2013 quote from Sen. Todd Akin, R-Missouri. The good senator was responding to a reporter’s question regarding abortions for rape victims. “If it is a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” he said.
(Editors note: “That whole thing,” is reproduction. “Legitimate rape,” is when sexual intercourse is forced upon a victim. ‘“Illegitimate” rape is … well, we’re not sure what it is.)
So, sadly, misinformed political leaders spouting off outrageous statements about women appear to be everywhere. All the result of women drivers, of course. It’s just another global crisis that we need to chip away at.
On the subject of global crisis, we are going to discuss something very serious, the rape crisis in India, and, briefly, other parts of world.
While the rights of women in the United States and other First-World countries – if you will – may still lag behind those of men, our sisters in other parts of the world continue to suffer unspeakable atrocities based solely on gender.
First, we wish to thank LB from the excellent blog, Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things, for asking our take on the recent death sentence convictions of four men in New Delhi. The men received the sentence earlier this month after being convicted of the December 2012 murder and gang rape of a 24-year-old student.
Our take, LB, is that we are thrilled that the Indian judicial system appears to be taking a stance. Now, whether the death sentence holds is still to be determined. The rapists may be hung, but are more likely to spend either 20 years or their lives in prison. But, as LB indicated, this is not a statement for or against death sentences – we can’t cover every controversy here at SK – it is a statement that lawmakers in India will no longer tolerate violence against women and girls.
A little behind the times, but at least they are trying to catch up. Social media, along with social outrage play a HUGE part in the changes, we believe. But we can’t overlook economics.
Female tourism dropped 35 percent in the quarter in India following the global publicity of the young student’s brutal death. Fewer tourism dollars means a sizable dent in this developing country’s bottom line. Street vendors, hotels, and other forms of commerce , such as the open markets, depend almost exclusively on tourism revenue.
If money talks, let it speak for justice.
(For the sake of this article, we will refer to victims as females and predators as males, though we fully understand that is not always the case.)
Currently, as in October 2013, when a victim reports a rape to police in India, she is subject to the “two-finger test.” No imagination needed here. Failing the “two-finger test” means the victim has had at least one sexual relation in her past and the defendant is no longer viewed as a threat.
The charge may even be dismissed with the victim facing accusations of bringing shame to the defendant and his family. If she works, she will likely lose her job, and the livelihoods of her family members may also be jeopardized. Who wants to take that risk, especially when you don’t know whose two fingers will be used for the test?
On the flip side of that, what’s to stop a predator from attacking his prey?
The Indian Parliament is wising up. after this gruesome account last December, lawmakers in March enacted stricter penalties for sex offenders and those convicted of other crimes against women and girls, such as stalking and voyeurism.
While that’s all well and good, the new measures are not worthy of a standing ovation, yet. And not everyone seems to be aware of them. Since then in India:
- March 2013 – A Swiss journalist was gang raped
- April 2013 – A 5-year-old girl was raped
- May 2013 – A 4-year girl died from injuries after being kidnapped and raped
- Aug 2013 – A photojournalist, 22, was gang raped by five men
- Aug. 2013 – An off-duty female police officer was gang raped.
In Pakistan, a 5-year-old girl was gang raped in September.
In Saudi Arabia, a woman reported being raped, and was subsequently arrested and jailed for having sexual relations outside of marriage. She was pardoned most likely because of the global outrage that followed.
Keep in mind, these are just the cases that made major international headlines. While we have no way of knowing for sure, my publicist and I are pretty confident that women and girls in some parts of this world are never immune from unwanted, and often violent and sometimes fatal, sexual encounters.
This has to stop and we are thrilled that so many in India are taking to the streets and protesting this horrid way of life. Grassroots gatherings outside parliament and courthouses are chanting: “Silence Supports Violence.” They are making sure their outrage is heard. The father of the Pakistani girl has been speaking to media outlets, and Saudi Arabia is working on its damage control.
We can do our part, too, by expressing our disgust via our writings, conversations and social media outlets. No one should have to live in fear of rape.
Thank you, LB, for prompting today’s post and making us more aware of another issue that has too long been silenced.
social media, India, rape, gang rape, Pakistan, Indian Parliament, Saudi Arabia, Tim Akins