February 11, 2003

ENSLAVED, BUT EQUALLY:

Iraqi Women Brutalized by Saddam (Wendy McElroy, February 11, 2003, FOX News)
Amnesty International has documented the brutal executions of Iraqi women accused of prostitution. For example, Najat Mohammad Haydar, an obstetrician in Baghdad, was beheaded in October 2000 after criticizing corruption within local health services. According to another report, in October 2000 "a group of men led by Saddam Hussein's son Uday, beheaded with knives 50 young women in Baghdad. The heads of these women were hung on the doors of their houses for a few days."

The Iraq Foundation joins Amnesty International in chronicling human rights violations, such as the methods of torture in prison, which include rape and "bringing in a female relative, especially the wife or the mother, and raping her in front of the detainee."

Why then does the Feminist Majority site have a "Help Afghan Women" button but no "Help Iraqi Women?" Why does an Oct. 10, 2002 press release from NOW warn, "A U.S. invasion of Iraq will likely entail ... dangers to the safety and rights of Iraqi women who currently enjoy more rights and freedoms than women in other Gulf nations, such as Saudi Arabia."

Why does Women's eNews run an article by Yasmine Bahrani who states, "As it happens, women's equality is one of the few aspects of the nation's ruling ideology ... that has survived the brutality that has marked Iraqi political life."

The theme seems to be that Saddam may brutally violate human rights but his presence is good for women. For example, the Bahrani article mentions "a recent report" compiled under the auspices of the United Nations in which Iraq "scored highest in women's empowerment" for that region. (Saddam's motives are not mentioned. "Advances," such as mandating five years' maternity leave for women from employers and equal pay with men allowed him both to curry favor with the West and to regulate the economy.)


Why Feminism Is AWOL on Islam (Kay S. Hymowitz, Winter 2003, City Journal)
The great contribution of Western feminism was to expand the definition of human dignity and freedom. It insisted that all human beings were worthy of liberty. Feminists now have the opportunity to make that claim on behalf of women who in their oppression have not so much as imagined that its promise could include them, too. At its best, feminism has stood for a rich idea of personal choice in shaping a meaningful life, one that respects not only the woman who wants to crash through glass ceilings but also the one who wants to stay home with her children and bake cookies or to wear a veil and fast on Ramadan. Why shouldn’t feminists want to shout out their own profound discovery for the world to hear?

Perhaps, finally, because to do so would be to acknowledge the freedom they themselves enjoy, thanks to Western ideals and institutions. Not only would such an admission force them to give up their own simmering resentments; it would be bad for business. The truth is that the free institutions—an independent judiciary, a free press, open elections—that protect the rights of women are the same ones that protect the rights of men. The separation of church and state that would allow women to escape the burqa would also free men from having their hands amputated for theft. The education system that would teach girls to read would also empower millions of illiterate boys. The capitalist economies that bring clean water, cheap clothes, and washing machines that change the lives of women are the same ones that lead to healthier, freer men. In other words, to address the problems of Muslim women honestly, feminists would have to recognize that free men and women need the same things—and that those are things that they themselves already have. And recognizing that would mean an end to feminism as we know it.


In the words of the great Phyllis Schlafly:
Of all the classes of people who have ever lived, the American woman is the most privileged. We have the most rights and rewards, and the fewest duties. Our unique status is the result of a fortunate combination of circumstances.

We have the immense good fortune to live in a civilization that respects the family as the basic unit of society. This respect is part and parcel of our laws and customs. It is based on the fact of life--which no legislation or agitation can erase--that women have babies and men don't.

If you don't like this fundamental difference, you will have to take up your complaint with God because He created us this way.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 11, 2003 12:51 PM
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