Thursday, July 3, 2008

Remember Atefah

I was talking to my mom the other day about women's rights. And boy have we come a long way! There are so many things that I never knew, things that her generation and the generations of women before her had to put up with. One topic that we got on was birth control. Did you know that a woman used to have to get her husband's permission if she wanted to go on the pill? Is that insane or what?

Nevertheless, in other countries women are still struggling. A case that struck a chord in me is about a girl named Atefah. She was 16 years old when she was executed in an Iranian square. Hanged to death. Why? Because she'd had sex. Yes, you read that right. She'd had sex and she was hanged for it. That disgusted me, but then I read on and tears came to my eyes. It seems the state-run newspaper accused her of adultery and described her as being 22 years old. As it turns out sex outside of marriage is a capital crime, right along with murder.

Am I the only person who finds this absolutely incomprehensible? I understand that not all cultures are the same. Diversity is the spice of life. If we all thought the same, acted the same, dressed the same life wouldn't be worth living. But we're not talking about any of that. We're talking about a young girl, a kid really, who had the same dreams and ideas as my own daughter. She probably worried about her hair and zits, dreamed of marriage and babies. All that changed, her hopes and dreams stolen. Her life taken away. And all because she had sex.

This girl should be remembered. We should all know her name. We should all see her face. And we should all kiss our daughters and be grateful that, at least in some countries, times have changed. Women have a say and little girls have the right to dream.

In rememberance of Atefah


Regina Carlysle said...

We have it so good compared to women in many other countries. In India, bride burning is still practiced. A new bride makes her husband mad and he can burn her to death. It's legal. Some African countries still practice "clitoral mutilation" on their pre-teen girls so they can never enjoy sex. Awful.There are groups out there who work to stop these practices or draw attention to these outrages.

I remember once reading that Robin Shone, a wonderful author, is an activist in these women's causes. Good for her. More of us should draw attention to the atrocities.

Anne Rainey said...

OMG, I'd heard about the clitoral mutilation, but I thought it was certainly a myth. Had to be. Apparently it's not. That's horrifying to me. Just horrifying.

And I didn't even know about the bride burning. I can't even explain how that makes me feel inside.

You know, we often bellyache about not being respected because we write erotic romance, but now that just seems so lame in comparison.

You're right, we have it very good. I'm thankful to those who've worked so hard to make it that way too! And kudos to Robin!

Cindy said...

It is so sad to think about all the horrible things that go on in our world,& I agree these girls/women should be remembered.
Great job Anne, for bringing it to the attention of us women, who like you said complain about not being respected,but at least we have the freedom to do so,& thank God for those freedoms.
thanks, Cindy

Anne Rainey said...

You're welcome, Cindy!

Atefah's story is so sad to me. They considered her promiscuous. Yeah, what 16 yr. old girl isn't?! She's just a kid still, learning and growing. It seems that before the sex incident, she was arrested and thrown in prison for what they call her first 'crime against chastity'. She was caught in a car with a boy. She recieved 100 lashes, and by her own accounts she was also abused by the moral police guards. (I don't even want to think about what type of abuse she was forced to endure at 13 yrs. old!)

I suppose, considering the U.S. celebrates their independence tomorrow, it seemed like a good idea to be thankful that we do have the freedoms that we have.

J.K. Coi said...

We're very lucky, both where I live in Canada and in the United States, that our people and our governments have taken such strides in protecting the rights of women (and in what is a short period of time when compared to the hundreds of years of subrugation that came before). But it's important to remember that there are still many many countries who do not treat women (and other minorities) with respect. I wouldn't normally use a public forum to get on a soapbox, so I'll just say that I strongly urge everyone to visit the Amnesty International website (canada) or (usa) to learn more about what you can do to help.

Kelley Nyrae said...

Wow. Thanks for reminding us Anne. This breaks my heart. I'm so thankful for the lives we are able to lead.

Tonya said...

Anne...this is so backwards from how our culture thinks and I find it's disgusting to think that some/many of the boys knowing the girl could/would be punished would still engage in these activities....gross!! I am so grateful for the freedom we have....and your right it does make many of our "problems" seem so small and "lame".

Thank you for reminding us of another piece of freedom we share here!

Desirée Lee said...

It is sad but as you said Anne, not all cultures are the same. It's such a sticky situation to pass judgments on other cultures without being blatantly intolerant.

Perhaps in some cases, that's what is needed. I think hanging a girl simply for having sex is far beyond punishment for the crime.

We grew up with a totally different mindset though. I think it is only going to get more difficult for girls and women in this type of culture now that the influences from abroad are more prevalent.

The Internet has brought a wealth of information to the fingertips of the world. We all know that China censors information coming in from the Net but not all countries have such filters in place. Information is readily available for so many, crossing cultural and language boundaries. It is only natural to believe that people will want to try something different than their norm.

I'm not saying that the Internet drove Atefah to want to have sex. I don't know if she ever had access to the net. Perhaps it was just hormones. Perhaps it was something else. Who knows? All I'm saying is that the world is changing, the attitudes are changing but old habits die hard.

I too am thankful that I live in a country where I have many freedoms and choices. I don't always agree with the choices that some others in this country make but I certainly respect their rights to make up their own minds.

Carpe Noctem,

Desirée Lee
Putting the Romance Back in Necromancy

Grace Tyler said...

That's the way they keep their woman in line. "You cheat, you die." How absolutely pitiful, from my Western POV. In this case, I am not going to work myself into trying to see the cultural viewpoint, because it hurts so much to see this individual suffer.

However, we do need to remember that there is much good in other cultures, and that we can help women have more autonomy here and try to be an example to the world.

Maybe it would be a good time to take a moment and throw up a few prayers of thanks for the women (and men) who bought our freedom for us at a time when they were little more than property/baby factories themselves. One hundred years makes a huge difference!

Anne Rainey said...

Thanks everyone for joining in on the discussion! I know that topics like these can be tricky, but I appreciate everyone sharing their views. :)

My hope is that the more people who know about women/girls like Atefah, the better chance there is that things will change, then at least something good can come of Atefah's execution. Awareness is always a good thing.

Whew! I'm so very thankful for my freedom!

Dann Saint Augustin said...

You know, Anne, the clitoral mutilation was even practiced in the USA. It was done up until about 1950, which is apparently when it was illegalized. I heard this from a Cosmopolitan Magazine, so I'm not really sure of its authenticity, but I believe it. The world is going to Hell in a handbasket and we can't do a godsdamn thing about it.


PS: Look at it this way, in the Middle East you don't see fat women hanging out of a thong bikini. You don't see any woman uncovered, you don't see prostitutes or naked sunbathers, and you don't see those nasty see-through shirts that shouldn't be worn in public. I think aside from the abuse of women, they actually have it pretty good. And women don't have to worry about looking good for men, because they're just the way they are, and no other man can look at their bodies in public. Just throwing it up there. Of course, I couldn't write erotica if I lived over there, so I'll just stay here thx.

Anne Rainey said...

Thanks for all the comments, ladies!

Personally I'm feeling very grateful that previous generations of women worked so hard for our rights. :)