Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Splendid Suns - Women in Islam

A few years ago, there was an Internet petition circulating, decrying the treatment of women in Afghanistan, and demanding that Something Be Done to improve their treatment. (The situation was real, but the petition is useless. Read the entire Snopes discussion.)

When we think of the treatment of women in Islam, most of us instinctively think of that petition, or of the stories we hear out of Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to drive.

While Islam has rules for what is appropriate for women (and men), and those rules are different than we're used to in the United States, generally women are not treated poorly in Islam. (Or, at least no worse than they're treated by Christianity or by Judaism)

This book graphically plays up the abuse of the two main characters. However, the same (and far worse) level of abuse is present in the United States, and in virtually every culture in the world. As you can see from that site, while spousal abuse is mostly focused on women, it happens to men, seniors - virtually anyone who is not in a position of power.

Looking only at the early years of Mariam's marriage (we'll deal with the years under the Taliban later), do you think that Mariam experienced more, less, or about the same level of abuse she would have experienced in a similar situation in the United States?

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