Tuesday, August 21, 2007

For uni, I'm reading about sati, a practise in India where a woman who was widowed was burnt to death. The British forcibly put a stop to the practise when they were occupying the country in the 19th century.

Reading Sir William Bentick's reasoning on enforcing a ban on the practise gives me a strange feeling about the whole affair. I'm happy with the result, but the reasonins seems so...nineteenth century: the argument against trying to enforce a ban was that it might lead to a revolt and end to British supremacy in the region, which would have deprived the natives of even more "benefits of civilisation" than just the abolition of this one practise.

I can't help thinking of modern-day justifications for attacking Islam on the grounds that it oppresses women either through enforced wearing of a burkha(the view on this varies by sect) or through toleration/advocation of honour-killing (not a practise actually condoned by Islam). Sure, I think both such things are problematic, but it seems like something else is at stake, ideologically speaking...

Is it common for Western concerns with injustice in other civilisations to focus so specifically (and, it seems, exclusively) on the injustices suffered by women?

This post is on less certain ideological ground than I'm accustomed to being on.

1 comment:

Ellen said...

I think focusing on women's issues is one of the more natural places to start, since we constitute half the population of the planet and, yet, across almost all cultures, are still considered a "minority" and have traditionally lacked equality. So I think it might just be a practical matter. When half the people on the planet are not realizing their full potential largely because of basic injustices, that is going to garner a lot of attention.

That said, I do find "honor" killings and the like particularly heinous. I have devoted huge chunks of my life to this particular problem.

Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
"Reclaiming Honor in Jordan"