Friday, April 03, 2009

Women, contraception, adultery

In today's news, Pakistani Taliban flog girl accused of affair.

I learned from a friend's blog that new British citizens have a choice of not shaking hands when receiving their new citizenship certificates in Sexism, sanctioned without a handshake :

"It seems that certain people object, for religious or cultural reasons, to touching someone of the opposite sex who isn't related to them, and the citizenship ceremony has been designed to accommodate them."

But as the writer pointed out, "The British government has recently been making a lot of noise about ensuring that immigrants embrace 'British values'." In their 'test on British values' specific instructions on the status of women in Britain highlight that they are not "merely considered as sexual objects; that they are not the property of their husbands or fathers; and that men and women can interact in everyday life without its being a clandestine sexual transaction, and without calling the woman's reputation into question.

"But it seems that once prospective citizens have regurgitated all this on a test, they are free to continue behaving in ways that fly in the face of these values -- and the British government not only tolerates this, but even alters its official ceremonies to accommodate it."

A few days ago I met with a woman I used to run into at the ante-natal clinic week after week some years ago. She started coming to the toddler group I help to run with her son who is almost exactly my son's age. Then she had a daughter.

This time she was looking worried. She is pregnant again. She is worried because she has had two Caesarean sections. Then she went on to recount all the problems she's had with the contraceptive methods she was using.

Correction: make that "recount how she suffered from all the problems she's had with the ....". She suffered pain, cramps, excessive bleeding, etc.

She blames herself for this 'accident' and she's dreading the gestation and birth of this baby.

Why, I wonder, did her husband not take any responsibility with contraception?

Why should contraception be her responsibility and hers alone?

In the Gospel account we read of the Pharisees testing Jesus with "the woman caught in adultery". Where was the man if she was "caught" in adultery?

It amazes me, no it saddens me, that in this part of the world we still hear of cases of 'honour killings' and 'honour suicides' (in Turkey). Why is 'honour' vested solely on the (mis)behaviour of women?

How can it be justified that women alone should bear the brunt of punishment when there is an 'affair' or 'adultery'? Why are fathers and brothers so keen -- paranoid -- to maintain the virtue of their unmarried daughters and sisters?

My guess? Because they know full well that as men in that culture they could do whatever they wish to their women and get away with it? To reduce honour killings, these fathers and brothers must first check their own behaviour. Indeed, let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

They must first stop coveting the sexual favours of other people's wives and daughters, then they will stop feeling the constant, constant need to protect the 'honour' of their own womenfolk.

They should not fear their womenfolk shaking hands with strangers. They need not fear their wives sleeping with another man.

They should also do the honourable thing and not leave contraception to their wives, especially when there are severe physiological effects from the chosen method/s.

As far as I am concerned, 'honour' is not the strict responsibility of the women.

An afterthought: Perhaps I have said this before somewhere else on the blog. I remember well the time I was at a post-natal group. Us new mothers chat and feed our babies as the health visitor checks them one by one and weighed them, giving advice, etc.

One woman came in, covered from head to toe, with her husband.

Clearly she was not allowed to venture out of her home without her husband. What did the husband do when he was there and their baby was being checked. He stared at the mothers breast-feeding. There was no attempt to avert his eyes. He just stared in a very rude way at the women's breasts, some more exposed than others.

Maybe he was thinking why are these women breast-feeding when there is a strange man in their midst? Should they not be all gone into hiding? Well, this is a women's group, of largely breast-feeding women. We let him stay only because we were extending the courtey to his wife. He should have been courteous enough not to stare, or simply step out of the room. I found his behaviour totally unacceptable. Does he represent the type of men who expect 'honour' from their wives and daughters at all times?

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