Tuesday, March 15, 2011
A Comparison: Western and Arab Women
I wish to compare women's rights in western countries (Christian majority countries) and the Arab world (Muslim majority countries). One of the burning issues which make me think that neither have it all that good is when I read about spousal murder in both regions. It tells me something is essentially wrong in both regions. In the Arab-Muslim world I have read about "honor killings". It is beyond the comprehension of nearly every human being I have ever met, yet I know this is predominantly acceptable in numerous muslim lands. The wikipedia article touches this tradition in numerous countries, noting that "honor killings" doesn't exist in large regions of India but is strong in the Punjab http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punjab_(India)#Religion Since this is a dominantly Sikh region, I should investigate the power of women in Sikh society. A decade ago I watched a popular t.v. show, 60 Minutes, and on a segment on honor killing in progressive Jordan. I witnessed that a family that had a daughter killed for some accusation, true or false, had a son imprisoned for 6 months and than released to a joyous festive village celebration upon his return. Few murderers of family members in the west would be released without a decade or more in prison and no festivities would be arranged upon their release. A Norwegian judge was willing to reduce punishment for an "honor killing", apparently committed by immigrants from 17 years to 15 years imprisonment, since Norwegians can never understand this behavior and as acknowledgement of cultural differences. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honor_killing Having read this link, I conclude that reportage of honor killings (ex. Pakistan 10,000 per year) may be 4 times higher than reported, due to the secrecy maintained by the family and community of the perpetrator of these murders. Even when these communities immigrate to the west they often go unreported or turned into accidents and suicides. Arab women are under-represented in parliaments in Arab states, although they are gaining more equal representation as Arab states liberalise their political systems. In 2005, the International Parliamentary Union said that 6.5 per cent of MPs in the Arab world were women, compared with 3.5 per cent in 2000. In Tunisia, nearly 23 per cent of members of parliament were women. However, the Arab country with the largest parliament, Egypt, had only around four per cent female representation in parliament. Twenty three is quite nearly the percentage of women in parliaments in Christian Marjority Countries world-wide: http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/world.htm The 23 percent of women in parliament in Tunisia is noteworthy, since Tunisia is the first Muslim country to have a popular uprising (2011), which ended almost entirely peacefully. I am concerned about the end of the uprisings in Libya and Yemen where I suspect vast civil war is about to break out....put deaths into the thousands. I have noted publicly at the United Nations (March 11, 2011, UNESCO Peace Program) that the media has rarely shown any women in those two countries, I was given the floor following a talk by the former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik gave a public call for an increase in the number of female parliamentarians. A female Tunisian dignitary, Sabiha Al-Khemir followed that it didn't really matter if a leader was man or woman. I reacted at the mic: "The former prime minister of Norway has spoken in modesty--all the scandinavian countries have enacted rules obligating major parties to elect 40 to 60 percent of their leader to be women. It is these women who have led to laws that respect the family: maternity and paternity leave of up to 18 months in Sweden, sick leave to take care of sick children. The scandinavian countries prevented the Holcaust to occur in Denmark and Sweden, as well. The courageous women of Scandinavia are responsible for this". For a complete list of women in parliament in 188 countries see: http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm From Gun Violence in America Wikipedia. Gun-related homicide rates in the United States are two to four times higher than they are in countries that are economically and politically similar to it. Higher rates are found in developing countries and those with political instability. Prevalence of homicide and violent crime is greatest in urban areas of the United States. In metropolitan areas, the homicide rate in 2005 was 6.1 per 100,000 compared with 3.5 in non-metropolitan counties. In U.S. cities with populations greater than 250,000, the mean homicide rate was 12.1 per 100,000. According to FBI statistics, the highest per capita rates of gun-related homicides in 2005 were in D.C. (35.4/100,000), Puerto Rico (19.6/100,000), Louisiana (9.9/100,000), & Maryland (9.9/100,000) . The Bureau of Justice statistics from 2004 do not include D.C or Puerto Rico. see "Gun violence in the United States by state". Wikipedia. 2004. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States_by_state. The above article does not include spousal murder and it should. A similar article about Canada mentions: Spousal murder rates have fallen significantly as well. For females in a relationship the rate of homicide fell from 1.65 per 100,000 in 1974 to 0.71 per 100,000 in 2004 while for males in a relationship the rate dropped from 0.44 per 100,000 in 1974 to 0.14 per 100,000 in 2004. Spousal homicides committed with firearms dropped by 77% for women between 1974 and 2000 and by 80% for men during the same time period. In the U.S. increased awareness, reporting and publication of domestic violence incidents, as well as police campaigns to crack down on domestic violence, have been the primary factors on the reduction of domestic violence homicides. Theses miniscule numbers indicate that Canada has minimal violence against women, compared to the United States. Since I consider violence against women a combination of 2 main factors: 1. Gun Control Laws 2. Percentage of Women in the Parliament, Canada http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_the_39th_Canadian_Parliament , with 21.1 percent women in la legislative body is not all that different than the US with 17.1% http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_the_United_States_House_of_Representatives, it follows that lax Gun Control Laws is the dominant reason that murder rates are over 4 fold in the USA over Canada, with strict Gun Control Laws. Two (christian-majority) countries with less than democratic records have better than average participation of women in 2007: Cuba and Belarus, two countries I recently visited. http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1075134.html It also notes that one muslim-majority country, Iran has 4 percent women in its parliament. It is worth additional analysis of Iran, where the religious authorities are most visible. I've read that 60 of Iranian college students are women and they must be ready to explode to gain further power. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-the-name-love/200806/why-some-men-murder-their-beloved-wives .