In 2008 a ten year old girl in Yemen, Nujood Ali, succeeded in obtaining a divorce from the husband who beat and raped her. She has been allowed to divorce but has to pay more than $200 in compensation to her husband.
Her baby also died.
Obviously legal protection is needed to shield girls like these against being traded and married and abused. But the real key to the end of this suffering is education.
We need to become creative about how we might deliver education to the child brides that survive their awful experiences and then, at least, there will be a hope that their daughters will be spared the same fate.
If you are interested in this horrendous abuse of little girls then you may also be interested in a study called – The Worst Places to Be a Woman – Mapping the places where the war on women is still being fought. This study is by Valerie M. Hudson who is professor and George H.W. Bush chair in the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. It makes interesting reading –
We need to learn to think. Urgently. Not just as individuals but also as governments and international organisations. We need to learn to see both our immediate reality while still keeping an eye on where we want to be in the future.
The recent talks in Istanbul between Iran and members of the United Nations Security Council (P5+1) regarding Iran’s development of nuclear capabilities attracted many human rights demonstrators. These people were advising the UN not to barter away human rights within Iran in an effort to appease the regime and get ‘promises’ regarding the development of nuclear weapons.
These ordinary people were pointing out that the best way to safeguard the rest of the world vis a vis any threat from Iran is to ensure that Iranian society is democratic and safe because then there will be no issue. The ordinary person in Iran has no interest in bombing anyone so the ordinary person in Iran (and everywhere else) needs to have a voice.
This seems like a fairly obvious point but somehow it is the type of principle that has always been missed by governments negotiating to avoid war. The Spanish Civil War was ignored by the Allies in Europe in the 1930s – in spite of the fact that Germany and Italy both took an active part in supporting Franco. Everybody hoped it’d go away. Everybody ignored what was happening to the Spaniards in the belief that it would be confined to Spain. Everybody told themselves that the ‘hole’ in the boat was far away.
This was then further enhanced by appeasing Hitler in the hope that that would be enough for him and everything would be OK. The fact that it didn’t work out all that well is a matter of historical record and attested to by over 60 million deaths.
We need to see that if we compromise our principles – as people and as governments – it will never solve anything and will, ultimately, come back and bite us. Therefore, it is not only nice, ethical and moral to defend the victims of human rights abuses in Iran and elsewhere – it is also the wisest course of action even in terms of our own self-interest.
Listen to their case for yourself –
- Breaking news: Nasrin Sotoudeh from Iran – MEA 2012 nominee (thoolen.wordpress.com)
- Obama works against human rights abuses in Iran, Syria (wjla.com)
- Obama targets technology in human rights abuses (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
I don’t know.
I agree with the sentiments expressed in this short film and admire these people and their courage and their commitment to action and hope and change for the better but I’m not sure I could be as magnanimous if someone took my child.
But I’d really like if I could.
I don’t admire success or fame or accomplishment. I don’t aspire to be like anybody else really – certainly not in regard to what our societies tell me I should want to emulate. But I do aspire to be as open-hearted, as brave and as far-seeing as these people.
Even though looking our definite and impending death in the face gives us perspective it’s not the only thing.
At least for me.
Sometimes for me the enormity of the fact that I am composed of atoms that have existed (literally) for eons and will continue to exist long after I have finished with them puts me firmly in my significant/insignificant place.
As does the absolute beauty, majesty and enormity of the world around us – particularly the parts we can’t easily see and yet they’re there all the time…
Anything I might try to say about this would be redundant. It is amazing.
Reza Fani Yazdi is a human rights activist, writer and former political prisoner but this recounting of his story is remarkable precisely because it is, in many ways, a common-or-garden ‘how I met my wife’ story . There is something wonderfully and touchingly ordinary about him and his story. Boy meets girl. Boy loves girl. Boy kisses girl for the first time in an interrogation centre…
But there is something very unusual about Reza Fani Yazdi – even more unusual than the backdrop of his love story with his wife, Sohaila Vahdati – and that is his clarity about who he is and what he believes. He has come upon this knowledge in the most difficult way imaginable but he has come upon it nevertheless.
This magnificent painting – The Meeting on the Turret Stairs – is a strangely evocative painting inspired by the Danish poem, The Legend of Hellelil and Hildebrand.
This water-colour, which was painted in 1864 by Frederic William Burton, is so delicate it is only exhibited for three hours each week in the National Gallery of Ireland in order to preserve it.
Hellelil was a Danish princess and Hildebrand one of her body-guards. They fell in love – much to the displeasure of her father who ordered his seven sons to kill Hildebrand.
Hildebrand killed six of the boys and spared the seventh at Hellelil’s request. Hildebrand died of his wounds and Hellelil herself died soon afterwards.
But the allure of this painting is nothing to do with the tragedy or the action of the story. Burton chose to imagine and depict this parting of the lovers rather than any feats of battle.
This achingly painful farewell may be anguished and sad but it’s appeal isn’t in its artistry or theme or even in its tragedy – though all of those are present along with the vibrant colours and delicate brushwork.
The reason that so many people are drawn to this painting is that the sum of its parts add up to something much more extraordinary than any of that.
I’m no expert on Dylan Thomas but they say he wrote Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night about his father’s descent into old age and death. It is a beautiful poem and to me, as well as being about the inevitability of death, it is also about the need to try, to ‘rage’ until the bitter end. In everything. In the full knowledge that death is inevitably coming this is a plea not to surrender. Ever. To keep on going. Keep on raging. Until the absolute end.
Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.