Reconciling assholes for nearly a decade.

Oppressed women in muslim nations

Treated as chattel, stoned for minor crimes (or even non-crimes), often mutilated at birth.

Do we care? Should we* do anything about it? If so, what?

Philo

*Interpret "we" as you want - the US, your nation, the UN, etc.
Permalink Philo 
January 19th, 2006
Muslim women in Western Europe are fighting for their identity as Muslims at the moment. Demanding the right to wear veils, have separate girls-only schools etc.

This is a multi-facetted issue.
Permalink Erik Springelkamp 
January 19th, 2006
Its not all women in all nations that are Islamic, it isn't even anything really to do with Islam but the underlying culture that was there before they ever encountered Islam.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
January 19th, 2006
Yeah, I didn't mean to imply all women in muslim nations were oppressed - I was asking about those women who are opporessed as a result of abuse of Shari'a Law.

Philo
Permalink Philo 
January 19th, 2006
There are organisations of women that support women in oppressive regimes, Islamic organisations. External pressure will have no effect.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
January 19th, 2006
First of all, it demonstrates that we shouldn't allow Shari'a Law in the democratic world...
Permalink KC 
January 19th, 2006
"Should we* do anything about it? If so, what?"

Yes, within reason; i.e., provide sanctuary to women who ask for it based on human rights violations in their own country. Perhaps use UN resources to set up refugee/halfway camps just outside the border, in neighbouring friendly countries.

The obligation to enforce human rights, while real, cannot be executed by means of an outright war - for the simple reason that more people will always die in a war, including more civilians. Furthermore, I cannot remember the last time a military effort was successful against a nation fighting at home.

"Muslim women in Western Europe are fighting for their identity as Muslims at the moment. Demanding the right to wear veils, have separate girls-only schools etc."

Is it actually Muslim women though? Or is it Muslim community leaders, predictably all men, with a few women trotted out for the cameras?
Permalink Flasher T 
January 19th, 2006
Reminds me of a guy from Iran who used to visit a forum and drive the folks nuts.
He once stated that women were good enough for "cooking, husband touching" and ......
Most of us were shocked beyond belief that someone could write something like that. I wonder what his mum must have thought if she read that - "Insolent fool, go burn in hell if you think I'm only good enough to touch the ba****d whom you call your father".
Permalink Vineet Reynolds 
January 19th, 2006
You'll find we already have it. As Philo said, its the abuse of Sharia that is the problem.

Within the central mosque in Birmingham is held every week a Sharia Court to decide those matters between agreeing parties that come under Sharia Law. Very often its divorce settlements or managing the treatment of new wives where they become abused by the mother in law.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
January 19th, 2006
"First of all, it demonstrates that we shouldn't allow Shari'a Law in the democratic world..."

Actually in a democratic world we should allow any legal system that people willingly subject themselves to. We should also allow people the freedom to place themselves in a different legal system if they wish (and think they can do better), which is why freedom of movement is a basic human right.
Permalink Flasher T 
January 19th, 2006
"External pressure will have no effect"

It will probably have opposite effect.

Unpressured countries like Morocco and Tunisia have improved the position of women considerably in recent times.

But hostility between the West and the Muslim world feeds the fundamentalists, and the women's position suffers.
Permalink Erik Springelkamp 
January 19th, 2006
"I cannot remember the last time a military effort was successful against a nation fighting at home"

I must be misreading this. Don't you live in Estonia?

Philo
Permalink Philo 
January 19th, 2006
So, before 1990, when was Estonia last fighting as a nation?
Permalink Erik Springelkamp 
January 19th, 2006
"Demanding the right to wear veils,"

Ridiculous demands like this could only happen in France.
Permalink Rick Tang 
January 19th, 2006
"So, before 1990, when was Estonia last fighting as a nation?"

In the Independence War of 1918-1920, when, with help from Finnish volunteers and a small expeditionary force of the British Royal Navy controlling the Gulf of Finland, Estonia fought back both the Red Army and the Landeswehr, securing not only its own territory but the independence of Latvia as well. The war concluded with the Tartu Peace Treaty, signed on February 2nd, 1920, in which Soviet Russia conceded its defeat in the war and recognized the Republic of Estonia as an independent state - the first country in the world to do so. (None of the League of Nations did, officially, because they expected this entire communist business to blow over and the Russian Empire to be promptly restored.)

There's a movie about this, called 'Names in Marble'. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000AI0FVG/qid=1137701777/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/002-2824024-3026445?%5Fencoding=UTF8&v=glance&n=130
Permalink Flasher T 
January 19th, 2006
I'll have to read up on the Russian Civil War.

But Flasher, they didn't fight in 1941, or did they?
Permalink Erik Springelkamp 
January 19th, 2006
No, they didn't. For multiple reasons, the main of which being Finland's technical loss of the Winter War of 1940 (it retained independence but lost territory), the obvious strength of Stalin's Red Army which was nothing like that of 1918, and the fact that Estonia genuinely expected Germany to win the war; choosing between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, the Estonian government tended to prefer Germany. Sad, but true. (Then again, so did Finland and it actually worked out fine for them. Go figure.)
Permalink Flasher T 
January 19th, 2006
Well, it helped that Finland refused to enter Russian territory and stopped at the old border.

So Finland wasn't really helping the Germans, just fighting it's own war.
Permalink Erik Springelkamp 
January 19th, 2006
"So Finland wasn't really helping the Germans, just fighting it's own war."

Smart move. The only thing worse than Hitler was Stalin.

Y'know, if some of these Iraqi hostage takers just had their mothers or sisters or wives turn them in. They wouldn't get away with half this sh*t.
Permalink LinuxOrBust 
January 19th, 2006
All the suicide bombing is doing is killing people. It's entirely pointless. Eventually, nearly everyone will figure this out. There is no constructive leadership that can take place behind such acts. It's only draw is talk about paradise on the other side. They may as well join "Heaven's Gate", or whatever.
Permalink LinuxOrBust 
January 19th, 2006
Ok, in reality I agree all women should have equal rights, etc... but to play devil's advocate, what gives us the right to impose our morals on these cultures? How is telling someone that women are their equal any different then imposing a morality like "Abortion is wrong" or "Adultery is wrong"?
Permalink Phil 
January 19th, 2006
"All the suicide bombing is doing is killing people. It's entirely pointless."

So why do you bother?

It is a well known way of warfare, tying forces down, tiring and demoralizing the opponent.

If they wouldn't do it, the US could rest and refit for the next war.

Why did Vietnam fight all those battles they couldn't win?
Permalink Erik Springelkamp 
January 19th, 2006
>>"but to play devil's advocate, what gives us the right to impose our morals on these cultures? "

What culture are you talking about ? It's not culture but the lack of it.
Permalink Vineet Reynolds 
January 19th, 2006
"Eventually, nearly everyone will figure this out."

You think?

They can be talked into killing themselves to kill a few other people on the basis that it gets them into heaven. That's the twisted brilliance of the Islamic war plan; the grunts don't have to believe their deaths will make the war shorter or acheive some strategic goal. They just have to believe the manner of their death will get them to heaven.

To them a death which kills some non-muslims is not a pointless death, because the rules say "convert them or kill them, either is fine and either gets you your virgins."

It takes a bit of a muppet to fall for something like that, but so far (with 16 charged and 4 dead) the London bombings have used up an entire 20 minutes supply of willing volunteers.
Permalink Katie Lucas 
January 19th, 2006
Let's get this STRAIGHT, please.

The thread should be "Oppressed women in nations under SHARIA LAW"

Conflating Sharia and Muslim is apparently a common misapprehension.

While it's likely all societies under Sharia law are Muslim, only a small minority of Muslim societies have adopted Sharia.

Keep pushing Muslims around and Sharia may increase in influence though why anyone should willingly submit to any small tribe's peculiar cultural timewarp (misogynist or not) is a personal mystery.
Permalink trollop 
January 19th, 2006
Okay, Phil: I'll bite. I think that the main difference between "liberating" a person and "forcing one's values on" a person forcing values takes away the choice, whereas liberation puts all the options on the table. If these women, given the choice, choose to wear a veil or submit to Shari'a, then they've at least had the choice.

My two cents...
Permalink cubiclegrrl 
January 19th, 2006
Being kicked in the mouth
or smilin' with no teeth
they're both choices, yes
but it's impossible to eat..
-DHOH
Permalink Star Wars Kid 
January 19th, 2006
First female circumcision is forbidden by Islam, and only practised in the South of Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, and possibly one or two other African countries. It is practiced equally by both Christians and Moslems in those areas.

There is no obligation under Islam to cover the head, and even less so to wear a veil. The religious obligation is to dress modestly. Admittedly in parts of Saudi that is interpreted as looking like a sack of potatoes with two eyeslits, but by falsely claiming the headscarf is a Moslem religious symbol, the French Government was actually backing up the fundamentalists who also said this. Certainly plenty of Moslem women actually prefer wearing the headscarf, thougjh outside of the Gulf I doubt if many would voluntarily upgrade to the burka.

Strangely enough, South Asia, which has had women as Heads of Government in all four major countries, is probably the region of the world were women are worse treated. Certainly the main problem lies in a defective application of Sharia rather than in Sharia itself, as far as the Islamic world goes.
Permalink Stephen Jones 
January 19th, 2006
There is no Hegelian progression of culture. There are just short-term bursts of 'moral progress' or 'moral decay' which are simply a society's readjustment to circumstance.

Which circumstance? Overreliance on a raw material as economy. When status collapses into one dimension, when ownership of a single raw resource and status are linearly dependent, that is, when how much oil one owns determines one's worth in society - and vice versa, one's place in society is directly equates to one's oil power - when there is only one hierarchy to society, women get oppressed.

Likewise there's a balancing game going on between men and women. An eternal power seesaw. The comparison is between the average woman and man, not of the extremes. (No one disputes than men are are overrepresented in the most powerful positions, just like no one disputes that they are overrepresented in the least powerful ones too.) After John Rawls, given the choice of being born the average man or the average woman, which would you choose? If everyone in your society chooses 'an average man,' then men have all the power. If the vote's split, it's well-balanced. If adolescent boys in your society get shuttled off to boot camp where chastity and suicidal rage are indoctrinated, then you'd probably rather be a born a girl.

Women are oppressed in Muslim countries *because* so many men have committed themselves to jihad (which, in one way or another, effectively takes them out of the mating pool).  Having less men to choose from as mates, women become less choosy. Less choosy women men can let their beer bellies (or worse) hang out. Hence oppression. It works the other way around too; less choosy men will women's kiss ass (nerds in high school exemplify). Old men will start wars just to get rid of (younger) men and by eliminating the competition, increase their own power over the fairer sex.

Amazing how plastic morality is under circumstance. It works the other way too. I bet the Western men (myself included) who when they find themselves in positions of sexual power - when they under-number the women of their mating pool - will make no bones about using it to their advantage.
Permalink Spinoza 
January 19th, 2006
"Women are oppressed in Muslim countries *because* so many men have committed themselves to jihad (which, in one way or another, effectively takes them out of the mating pool)."

You are making this up.

Oppression of women comes from a long established division of power and doesn't change overnight.

While Iraq lost many men in the war of the 80's, the women there were relatively well emancipated.

Saudi Arabia hasn't waged a war since 1918 but is very oppressive.

The Great War was a period of great emancipation for women in the West, although the men were slaughtered by the millions.
Permalink Erik Springelkamp 
January 19th, 2006
"You are making this up."

Spinoza is not called a Rationalist without reasons :)
Permalink Rick Tang 
January 19th, 2006
Erik, I'm grateful for the counterexamples as I'm still working out the theory (just a Sunday sociologist - um, just a once a month sociologist, really).

> While Iraq lost many men in the war of the 80's, the women there were relatively well emancipated.

I'd say the downward trend in women's rights started after enough men were killed (1985?). And it's escalated as more and more men have been killed in war/prison. Kinda like the ten or so years after WWII in America.

(Shoutout: my mom designed an electrical engineering system for the Baghdad-Basra pipeline in the 70's. woo-hoo!)

> Saudi Arabia hasn't waged a war since 1918 but is very oppressive.

It's a good counterexample. I haven't figured it out. (I have The Economist's survey of S.A on my desk; maybe there's a clue there). There's something about the one-dimensional economy (in a dynamic every-changing economic environment, women gamble on who may be the next Steve Jobs, Ted Turner; in a fixed hierarchical economy, women go with the most conservative, ie, entrenched power, high status, choice that will have them). There's something about the huge post-war population boom (too busy popping out youngsters?). I dunno. I can tell you this: when the top 20% of the men in a society each have four wives, there aren't that many women to go around for the other 80%.

> The Great War.

Damn, more annoying facts (it's not a factor in the US, but I have to check England, France, Low Countries). Thanks.

I guess it's like this: in the Iraq/Iran war Iran sent thousands and thousands of 12 and 13 and 14 year olds to certain death (the martyr boys they were called, I think). Twenty years later there is a dirth of eligible bachelors in their thirties. The (heterosexual) women who would be those lost boys's spouses today are less choosy: they either married men older, poorer, or with more baggage. And by doing so they spawned an arms race *among all women* competiting for the best male mates. The arms race was in sexual chastity (no man ever wants to marry a "slut") or public symbols thereof: hence the chador.

> Oppression of women comes from a long established division of power and doesn't change overnight.

It doesn't change overnight, no. But it can change quite quickly: noticeablely in half a generation.

If the power is divided evenly, then there's no oppression, no? So the mere fact that there is sexual power dimorphism, doesn't itself mean oppression, just difference.

The question is this: would you rather be born a girl or a boy in a Muslim country today? If there is no clearly best option - if life sucks for both sexes, say - then we can't really say one sex has it worse than *or is being oppressing by* the other (damn Rawlian formula, that).
Permalink Spinoza 
January 20th, 2006
"Well, it helped that Finland refused to enter Russian territory and stopped at the old border."

Yep. Finnish forces were completing the blockade of Leningrad on their own side, but knowingly and intentionally left the Road of Life over lake Ladoga open.
Permalink Flasher T 
January 20th, 2006
"Certainly the main problem lies in a defective application of Sharia rather than in Sharia itself, as far as the Islamic world goes."

The problem is, once an ideology is predominantly applied in its corrupted form, the pure form loses all credibility and is assimilated in the minds of outsiders - arguably rightfully, as chances are good that the pure form will once again produce a perverted form. In the same way as communism, initially a curious concept that had value in the context of the period, was perverted by Marxism-Leninism and inextricably associated with an evil empire to the point where it is now near-universally persecuted, Sharia law is fundamentally an ideology of extremists. If the Muslims of the world are unhappy with people thinking of them as terrorists, it's their job to make sure the terrorists stop advertising themselves as Muslims.
Permalink Flasher T 
January 20th, 2006
That again makes the mistake that Islam is organised in anything like the way that the major Christian sects are. There is no heirarchy, its a matter of scholarship, opinion and most importantly following.

Because of that a particular society can change direction radically as one following supercedes another.

Islam also fits well enough in secular societies, that those secular societies are generally authoritarian is again a cultural imperative and not a religious one.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
January 20th, 2006
Well, when I talk of Muslims I tend to refer to a population group rather than a religion; Muslim is an umbrella term that defines affiliation with a particular ideology (not necessarily religious) as well as the term European, for example.

So the problem of people disliking some Muslims is the problem of anyone who willingly affiliates himself with Muslim culture.
Permalink Flasher T 
January 20th, 2006
But that isn't a single thing. There is immense diversity amongst Muslims.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
January 20th, 2006
http://sundials.org/about/humpty.htm
Permalink  
January 20th, 2006
That's my point: I accept full well that there are many different groups of Muslims, but if all of them choose to call themselves Muslims, then if one group perverts the ideology to the extent that the perverted variety is considered the default by non-Muslims, then it is the task of the Muslims to neutralize this one group.
Permalink Flasher T 
January 20th, 2006
Uh.

What?

There is no sense in that sentence. Because 'others' lump you with a single label and can't understand diversity in culture and the difference between a common religon (with schisms and disagreements), and differing cultures you have to suppress or remove some part of that diversity that those 'others' mistakenly identify every member of your 'group' as having?
Permalink Simon Lucy 
January 20th, 2006
Flasher, do you happen to know if this is the same war that (at least a part of) Austria was involved in from 18-20? I saw a memorial to it on the news yesterday and my girlfriend and I looked at it and went "Huh?"
Permalink  
January 20th, 2006
No, the one I'm talking about was a local Baltic thing. There's a possibility that there were Austrians fighting in the Landeswehr (the army of Ost-Zee Germans with the remainder of the imperial garrison which intended to establish the Duchy of Baltic, in personal union with the Kaiser), but neither Austria as a nation nor Weimar Germany was directly involved in Estonia's independence war.

But it was indeed a very strange time, with the recent fall of imperial Germany, civil war in the Russian Empire, etc. There were enough wars to go around.
Permalink Flasher T 
January 20th, 2006

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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