Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Big Piece of Humble Pie

A lot of the evil that goes on in the Middle East can be laid at the feet of US foreign policy. But some of it can't - like these too frequent stories about archaic, unIslamic, barbaric laws about the interaction between men and women. Two sisters in Iran were recently condemned to death by stoning because one of their husbands has video of them, gasp, in the company of two other males. And a woman in Saudi Arabia was kidnapped, interrogated, threatened and dehumanized for having coffee with a male co-worker in Saudi Arabia. When I was studying in Yemen a friend of mine was staying in a house with a family whose two daughters were sent 'away' so they wouldn't be murdered by the eldest male son who threatened to kill his two sisters after they ran to the aid of a man outside their home who had been hit by a car and was lying motionless in the street. I loved my time in Yemen-and it makes me so sad that such a hospitable, kind people can also harbor such violent feelings toward their women.

When men and women are always divided their rare interactions are inevitably going to be sexually charged. When men can't interact with women as co-workers and friends and the only women they see are their female relatives and prostitutes the identity of other women becomes one of a sexual object - how could it be anything different? Want to keep Gulf men from thinking about sex when they see a rogue uncovered ankle? Then allow women to become more to them than potential sex. Allow them to work and live side-by-side with men.

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