Girl flogged in Pakistan
April 5, 2009 11:10 PM   Subscribe

I saw a horrific video on Youtube of a girl being flogged in pakistan by the Taliban.

Are there any more such clips of women/girls being abused?
What does the world body (UN etc.) do about this?
Does the news media pick up on this and create awareness?
Why are such abuses videotaped in the first place?
posted by cdkodi to Human Relations (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Your question made me immediately think of this incident, which received its fair share of coverage and outrage in the blogosphere. I don't recommended you watch the videos. They are stomach-turning and heart-rending.

The UN has several initiatives aimed at helping women around the world. A quick Google search should bring up their websites.
posted by roomwithaview at 11:17 PM on April 5, 2009

I can't speak to the first three questions, but as to the last... to make sure people know what will happen to them if they fail to toe the line. A sort of ''do as we say - or this could be you'' threat.
posted by t0astie at 11:17 PM on April 5, 2009

Probably, but why would you want to see them?
Issue some remarks about how it is unacceptable.
Yes, pick up a newspaper and you will see this has been reported.
Why does anyone record their crime? Not everyone understands that these can be published on the internets.
posted by quadog at 11:24 PM on April 5, 2009

Why are such abuses videotaped in the first place?

I think you need to grok that this is not considered abuse by the perpetrators, but justice.

Does the news media pick up on this and create awareness?

To some extent, but I understand that in South Asia, due to the low penetration of personal computers, videos like this are shared by cellphone. It doesn't take long to spread.

This is front page news in Pakistan, as well, nevertheless. This represents something abhorred by the majority of Pakistanis.

What does the world body (UN etc.) do about this?

The UN is made up of multiple world bodies, actually. Several of them have a say in things like this, but all of them have extremely limited jurisdiction, because Pakistan is a member state. At best you're looking at some public shaming and a statement of condemnation. These can be effective when dealing with government or other centralized malfeasance, but can be very ineffective by themselves at dealing with ingrained cultural and tribal customs.
posted by dhartung at 12:35 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is *horrific* to Western senses, but this is how Islamic law operates. Yes, let the UN try to sort this one out like they've done so many times before. For heaven's sake.
posted by watercarrier at 2:15 AM on April 6, 2009

What does the world body (UN etc.) do about this?

The UN gains its authority (and its military power) from its component nations. Accordingly, it must be careful about throwing its weight around, and choose its battles carefully. In a similar example, most nations would consider the number of state-sanctioned murders performed by the USA to be appalling - but mitigation is beyond the capabilities of the UN.

Just as the US, with all its military power, is unable to impose its will on large areas of central Asia, the far weaker UN cannot impose far nobler goal on a far larger area.
posted by pompomtom at 2:46 AM on April 6, 2009

...this is how Islamic law operates.

Might be a good idea to distinguish between a few especially harsh provisions of Sharia law, and Islamic law in general.

(Neither of which am I all that knowledgeable about).
posted by jon1270 at 2:56 AM on April 6, 2009

Are there any more such clips of women/girls being abused?

Yes, I'm sure. I don't know where. But, the breathy crispness of this question after the moralistic opening line makes me wonder if it wasn't a bit arousing for you.

What does the world body (UN etc.) do about this?

Nothing? It's not a big deal. While Pakistan definitely has a whole morass of gender equality issues that are being addressed internationally, this particular aspect of their penal system isn't really a big concern.

Does the news media pick up on this and create awareness?

Haven't they? You're aware of it now. Just like everybody was aware of Singapore's corporal punishment sentences when Michael Fay was sentenced to caning in 1994.

Why are such abuses videotaped in the first place?

They didn't view it as abuse, but as punishment. Or, it might actually be "viral" and was simply videoed by an onlooker as something interesting.

I guess I don't understand why you're freaking out so hard on this. I'll grant that the crimes sometimes committed to receive these floggings don't qualify as crimes in the West; but if a blowjob's illegal, and I give you one, I'd really rather get 30 lashes on my covered ass (it's not bare skin; I've seen the uncensored video) than spend even a couple months in prison.

Let me put it this way: as a libertarian fruitcake, I'd support the adoption of flogging as a valid punishment for crimes against property and any crime against a person equal to or below assault and battery (non aggravated). There are a number of modern, civilized nations that still maintain a corporal punishment system.
posted by Netzapper at 3:23 AM on April 6, 2009

Isn't this a bit like saying that racism, prosecutor misconduct and prison rape are the way "American law operates"?

A better analogue would be the death penalty: written into the law, supported by the highest courts of the land, and supported by the majority of the citizenry. Yet abhorred by people in other countries.
posted by smackfu at 6:05 AM on April 6, 2009

First, let me say that I am horrified at things like this and won't even attempt to watch it. I too am wondering when did these events start to be videotaped. I am sure things like this have been going on for a quite a while, but with youtube and the internet, now things like this have the ability to be widely distributed.

There was a substantial discussion on Metafilter on the recent wave of mass shootings, and a poster linked to this Steven Pinker TED talk.

While this does not directly answer your question, I think it is important for all of us Westerners to keep in mind the historical perspective. It will take cultural and economic change to stop things like this from happening, and I think there is a limit to what an organization like the UN can do with this.
posted by hazyspring at 6:23 AM on April 6, 2009

[comment removed - if this could not become a discussion about relative political systems (i.e. "the US/UK does worse") that would be great, thanks]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:06 AM on April 6, 2009

The purpose of the video is twofold. Two months ago, the region the flogging took place in (Swat) came back under control of Sharia law through a pro-Taliban cleric. These are the same people who bomb girls schools, as Taliban law forbids the education of women. For the Taliban, the video is a reinforcement of terror directed at the women in that area, as well as a message to the world at large that the Taliban has not been dissuaded or diminished.

In addition, the motivation for the video began on a personal level. The woman rejected a marriage proposal from a guy, who then joined the Taliban and sent his new buddies after her. Videotaping the beating shamed the woman so successfully that she is refusing to appear in court or aid any investigation. (Understandably so, as she would most likely be killed.)

What does the world body (UN etc.) do about this?

The U.N. does what it's been doing, basically. It is well aware through experience that severe subjugation or elimination of women's rights go hand in hand with war-torn or unstable regions. Where the U.N. has a military/peacekeeper presence, it sets up refugee camps that include women-only sections. Due to issues of sovereignty, they can only take this as far as the hosting nation allows. This is far from a solution (and a camp is a camp, after all), and creating lasting change in such environments depends on the U.N. empowering its representatives on the ground to push women's rights consistently to governing bodies. In essence, all they can do is talk, so they have to step very softly in order to keep the opposing government amenable to listening.

In this case, the United States' U.N. rep, Susan Rice, wields a more effective solution, as she has stated that the video appears to be a clear example of human rights abuse (she wasn't making a public statement, she just got one sort of dragged out of her on TV). This, in turn, endangers over a billion in aid money that Obama has earmarked for Pakistan. This is a stronger move than the U.N. can make, and has forced the Pakistani president to acknowledge the situation.

Whether anything will be done about it is doubtful, though. Condemning the beating could scupper a peace treaty recently forged in Pakistan between its government and its militants. On the other hand, doing nothing about the beating could endanger significant U.S. aid money.

To my mind, this is a good opportunity for the U.S. to use the flogging as an example that Pakistan should use a significant amount of their aid money to promoting and enforcing education and human rights. It would allow Pakistan to save face, as it were, allow the U.S. to push its interests in the region, and create actual resources in the area to combat these kinds of situations. This would all be behind-the-scenes work, though, and solely my opinion.

Does the news media pick up on this and create awareness?

It did. Samar Minallah, a human rights activist in that region, saw the video and distributed it to Western media sources in hopes of highlighting the abominable behavior. The story was picked up by the Associated Press, among others, and made its way out from there.
posted by greenland at 8:58 AM on April 6, 2009 [4 favorites]

Clips of women being abused? Isn't one enough?

Found this to be insightful on why the law is so stringent in matters of sexuality. Simply to abolish sexual tendencies outside of the sanctity of marriage. And here is the information:

Islam considers the lawful expression of sexuality, in contrast, is considered a great blessing, even an act of worship.

In contrast, Islam prohibits all expression of sexuality outside marriage, including flirting, kissing, and even holding hands. Therefore rape of anyone of any age, nationality, or religion by anyone of any age, nationality, or religion, is considered to be one of the most serious crimes, punishable, most often, by the death of the rapist.

This is true no matter what the marital status of the victim and of the rapist.

There is no rule in Islam requiring a rape victim to forgive the rapist, but in some jurisdictions, if the victim forgave the rapist, the rapist’s punishment might be reduced from execution to, say, flogging and incarceration.

Child molestation is treated in the same way.

Please read the fatawa below:
Rape is a grave sin and a major legal crime on the part of the assailant, and if legally proven it may be punishable by death. The assaulted woman, however, would not be considered a sinner, since she was overwhelmed and could not be blamed for it. The Quranic rule applies: "If one is forced, without wilful disobedience nor transgressing due limits, then he is guiltless, For God is Oft-Forgiving Most-Merciful. ' , (2:173)

and more on unlawful sexual acts and their dire punishments in Islam explained -
posted by watercarrier at 10:36 AM on April 6, 2009

Re the UN - couldn't find anything whatsoever on the United Nations doing anything in Pakistan - in any capacity. Maybe I wasn't looking hard enough though.
posted by watercarrier at 10:40 AM on April 6, 2009

For a more moderate take than what the misguided Taliban and their Salafist adjuncts practice, see this link for rulings that pertained to the Ottoman era.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:49 PM on April 7, 2009

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