Saturday, October 28, 2006

The treatment of women around the world.

Yesterday's newspaper stories made me smile. Women can dress very differently around the world and can cause quite a stir. Sheik Taj Aldin al-Hilali Australia's most senior Muslim cleric in a religious address to 500 worshippers in Sydney last month, was quoted as saying: "If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the back yard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it... whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem."

He added: "If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab [Islamic headscarf], no problem would have occurred."

He makes a point here about freedoms, modesty and encouraging men which have some reality when you look at city centre night life here in the UK as an example.

Then we have the treatment and abuse of women in India were their rough and often violent treatment is taken as part of life. The UN Population Fund's 2005 report found that 70 per cent of Indian women believed wife-beating was justified under certain circumstances, including refusal to provide sex, or preparing dinner late.

Yorkshire men in the UK joke about saying to their wives if there is a delay with food serving - "Where's me dinner, woman?" - but this is done in a jokey fashion and not under the threat of violence or abuse. I wonder just how little value is put on the lives of Indian women when I read further down the page the tale of Tripla.

Tripla was born in the jungles of eastern India. But she died hundreds of miles from home, in the scrubby fields around Delhi, murdered by her husband because she refused to have sex with his brother.

She was born into a penniless family. So when a man came looking for a wife and offered £170 for her, her parents accepted.

They lived together as husband and wife for six months. Then Ajmer ordered her to sleep with his brother, who could not afford a wife.

When Tripla refused, Ajmer dragged her to a field near the village and beheaded her with a sickle.

Tripla's story was uncovered by Rishi Kant, a women's rights campaigner. When he told her parents in Jharkhand what had happened, her mother wept. "But what could we do?" she asked him. "We are facing so much poverty we had no choice but to sell her."

Sometimes people forget in the UK how other people have to live their lives and just moan about their daily lives and chores. Little do they know just how lucky they are - the grass on the other side may look greener but all is not green.
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