"Three months ago Gul Zam poured petrol over her body and set herself alight. To her it was the only way out of a marriage so abusive that her husband Abdul had beaten her until her clothes were soaked in blood." Excerpted from this article: "They'd rather die: brief lives of the Afghan slave wives."
I read that article a few days ago and, honestly, it's the reason I haven't had an update all week. My thoughts and worries are petty compared to what those women are having to live with day in and day out.
I know that women in highly oppressive cultures ultimately learn to adapt and live within the small bounds they are given. I find it insulting that women are just expected to adapt to whatever repressive position in society that men think is appropriate. This behavior goes on throughout the world. Women are at the mercy of men to tell other men not to beat them or rape them or trade them for a bigger house.
I have an engineer friend who decided to go to the middle east for a project at work (she's braver than I . I opted out of this round). I've been collaborating with her daily (for the project), and her impressions and perceptions of life in a strict Muslim country riddled by terrorists is fascinating. (more after the jump)
She's a very strong, very vibrant, very independent woman, normally. However, over there, she's afraid to take off her abaya except inside her isolated villa, even though she admits it's quite hot to wear. But, she's afraid of offending anyone, and since the prince has a tendency to stop by, she wears it even at the office when she's surrounded only by our coworkers who went with her. She's also terrified of going to a mall, restaurant or walking down the street, and has to be chaperoned anywhere she goes. I'm sure it feels like a whole different life that she's living over there.
Most of the things my friend is experiencing are concerns that only women ever face; that only women think about. Men don't obsess about how their behavior will be perceived by other cultures because they don't have to. Men can't accidentally insult anyone by flashing a little ankle or some errant strands of hair, but women can, and so we obsess about how we should act, what we should wear, even how we should carry ourselves. And, it happens in every culture in the world. Male society dictates where women fit in, and women are utterly dependent upon men to make changes. It's ironic and unfair.
Sadly, no one ever said life is fair.