A friend posted in her own blog a few times about her experiences as a new wife. She called the series of posts, “What Is Marriage?.” She described moments in her relationship that shaped who she and her husband were as a couple. Their marriage is a happy one. It’s modern, Western, feminist? (if one can be), and unique when one looks at marriage with a wider lens.
I enjoy these posts, and I have similar feelings about my marriage. Yet it is hard for me to see the global state of marriage as an altogether happy one. For so many women and girls (yes, I’m going there with this) marriage is brutal. At best it is an escape from familial scorn of spinsterhood. At worse, it’s a death sentence.
This week, a news story ran on CNN about an Afghan man who killed his wife because she “failed” to have a son. This, as many people know, is nothing new. In the ancient Western world this happened even among the monarchs. (I’m looking at you Henry.) In the modern, developing world this still happens. We rarely hear about it on the nightly news.
Violence against women, especially by their spouses, will never make the nightly news unless it involves a privileged American woman. It just doesn’t. We hear about Chris Brown and Rihanna, but it’s a miracle we heard about Storay Mohammed.
Despite the lack of attention to the subject in the media, the part the burns my bottom the most is that in many places, other women are sanctioning and participating in brutal acts against their own gender. The mother-in-law in this story defends and protects her son. She claims that Storay killed herself. These women aid the abusive patriarchy in attempting to diminish the lives of women and girls.
In communities that practice female genital mutilation (FGM) it is well-documented that the matriarchs are active, encouraging participants of the practice. For an in-depth look at the practice and the role of women aiding in the further oppression of women, spend some time with Eve Ensler’s “Until the Violence Stops” and PBS series “Half the Sky.”
I don’t intend to neglect spousal abuse here in the United States. I know it happens, but that’s not the focus on this post. There are good marriages in the developing world. There will always be beautiful, happy, loving couples. But, for many women, it’s a nightmare. They don’t have a chance to sit at the computer and muse about those bits of warm sunshine and homemade cocktails. It’s good to savor those moments, couples like us, and like my friend. We should be grateful for the privilege of equality and respect.
Photo from: http://www.catapult.org/coverstories/