The Huffington Post reported that Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani, a 42-year-old woman in Iran, may be executed “at any minute.” Her crime? Adultery. The method of execution: stoning. Prior to being sentenced to death, she was subjected to 99 lashes.*
This is not the only recent case in which a woman who has committed what is essentially a social crime has been punished far more harshly than would a man who committed a similar offense, if it was even considered an offense at all.
In June, Earth Rullan at Earthling Gorgeous noted that:
Girls and women are beaten, arrested and worse for wearing pants, even loose pants covered by skirts.
* Just two weeks ago, Indonesian women wearing jeans had their pants confiscated and were ordered to don long skirts.
* Schoolgirls in Sudan were flogged last fall for wearing pants, and while international outrage helped keep flogging at bay for Sudanese journalist, Lubna Hussein, she must pay a fee for the crime of wearing pants.
* Last September, some 20 Ugandan women wearing pants were stripped and left to walk home in underwear.
Bec Hamilton at Foreign Policy noted that, in the glare of the international media, the Sudanese government spared Hussein from a sentence of flogging, and continued:
I spoke to Lubna by phone shortly after the verdict was handed down and was not surprised when the first thing she said was that she had no intention of paying the fine. While most of the media coverage of her story to date has focused on the most sensational part of the case -- the possibility of her facing a public flogging -- for Lubna, her decision to take on the government was a challenge to the justness of Article 152 in its entirety. From Lubna's perspective, paying the fine would legitimate an illegitimate law.
Incidentally, the women who joined Hussein in the pants protest were lashed.
Having Sex While in a War Zone
In an essay about how lack of access to abortion services for American military women causes multiple problems, Kathryn Joyce reported on the punishment meted out to pregnant women:
Amy knew that if her pregnancy were discovered, she would be sent back to her home base at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune, where she would then have to seek a private abortion off-base, or she could request leave in Iraq and try her luck at a local hospital. She also knew she could face reprimands from her commanding officers for having had sex in Iraq (part of a broader prohibition on sex in war zones), and that she might not be promoted as a result: a potentially career-ending situation in the Marines, where failure to obtain regular promotions results in being discharged ... The first sergeant came to her hospital room to announce that Amy would be punished under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which addresses violations of general regulations, for having had sex in a war zone.
The man who was also responsible? Not charged.
While it is now illegal to throw the widow of a deceased man onto his funeral pyre (a practive called sati), widows still face enormous burdens for daring to live after their husbands die. At The F Word, Suswati Basu interviewed India’s leading women’s rights activist, Dr. Mohini Giri:
Traditional perceptions that have changed are still confined to the 2% widowed population that I come across. India has 40 million widows and to bring about change in all of them in the short span of two decades, the time I have been working for is not possible,” said Dr. Giri... According to the Global Ministries Foundation, deprivations causing mortality for widows are 85% higher amongst widows than married women.
Sex as a Commodity
Bob Herbert, a columnist at The New York Times, has written several exceptional pieces on the insanity of how laws regarding prostitution criminalize women. In February 2008, he wrote:
What’s needed is a paradigm shift. Society (and thus law enforcement) needs to view any adult who sexually exploits a child as a villain, and the exploited child as a victim of that villainy. If a 35-year-old pimp puts a 16-year-old girl on the street and a 30-year-old john pays to have sex with her, how is it reasonable that the girl is most often the point in that triangle that is targeted by law enforcement?
Yes, it is dangerous to be a woman. It’s not that men don’t get punished for deviating (certainly male homosexuals suffer from severe reprisals not unlike women), but women around the world are often harshly punished for daring to think they have the same liberties as men.
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