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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Malala Yousafzai

The good new is that Malala Yousafzai, the fourteen-year-old Pakistani girl who on October 9th was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen is recovering. To recall, Malala was shot because she courageously promoted girls’ education. Encouraging, too, was the anger with which many Pakistanis reacted to the shooting.

The bad news is that less than two weeks after the incident Pakistanis are reported to feel less rage over the shooting of the young high school student. Instead, true to the widely spread conspiracy theories in the Muslim world, they are now becoming suspicious of the United States being involved in the shooting of Malala in order to further tarnish the Taliban’s reputation of extremism, intolerance and cruelty, while Islamists infer that she was an American agent.

Only four months before Malala’s shooting, in July of this year, twenty-five year-old Farida Afridi was also shot, most likely by the Taliban. Farida, however, did not survive the attack. Her "crime" was creating, three years before her murder, the Society for Appraisal and Woman Empowerment in Rural Areas (SAWERA), providing women information about their rights. Though Afridi had been repeatedly warned by extremists about her activity, she continued her activism till her death.

Like Malala and Farida, other female activists have been accused by militants
of corrupting the minds of non-suspecting innocent women. These activists have complained of the erosion of women’s rights and lawlessness against women in Pakistan, especially in the Swat Valley, in the north-western part of the country. Despite these conditions some Pakistani women are becoming braver.
Among them is the filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, whose film Saving Face won an Oscar this year. In it Sharmeen bravely exposes the practice of acid attacks on women in her country by abusive men, and the lack of accountability for these crimes.

And let’s not forget Mukhtaran Bibi, who in 2002 was sentence by a Mastoni tribal council for gang rape because her teenage brother was accused of having sexual relations with an unmarried woman of that tribe. Rather than committing suicide after being raped as custom dictated, Mukhtaran spoke up and legally pursued the case. Though six men (including her four rapists) were sentenced that year to death, in 2005 a high court acquitted five of the six men and commuted the punishment for the sixth man to a life sentence. In 2011 the Supreme Court acquitted the accused.
While American women are rightfully concerned with domestic women’s issues this elections season, we ought to remember the plight of Pakistani and other Asian women, as President Obama and Mitt Romney discuss foreign policy issues on their last debate before the upcoming elections.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you dear Ziva for sharing your thoughts. Malala and her likes pave the way with their courage and clear mind. I feel for them, and wish them strength and health. There is a very long long way ahead of them.
    Blessed be America and the West.