UPDATE: see this post for how to donate.
I learned somewhere that the best way to give criticism is to compliment, then give constructive criticism, then compliment again. I think they called it a “compliment sandwich,” which is stupid because you’re supposed to name a sandwich after whatever’s on the inside. But I digress.
In the spirit of the compliment sandwich, I’m going to write this post in the following order: happy news, depressing news, happy slightly less depressing news.
Happy News: I’m having dinner and drinks tonight at 6pm at the Legal Sea Food on the Boston waterfront with a collection of microbiologists, SGU listeners, and Skepchick readers. Please stop by if you’re around! Okay, now get ready for the hard stuff.
Depressing News (really): You may recall that about a month ago, a girl in Basra was beaten to death by her father for expressing an interest in a British soldier. The murderer was never charged with a crime, because he was upholding his family’s honor. The man’s wife, Leila Hussein, courageously divorced him and ran away to hide in various safe houses. The Guardian has just reported that she was gunned down on May 17 while with two women’s rights activists who were helping her leave Iraq. The activists have been targeted in the past, and several have been murdered. They are now attempting to flee Basra, but lack the funding to do so.
Slightly Less Depressing News: Maybe we can help.
I read about Leila’s murder over on Jezebel, and immediately contacted them to find a way to help. They put me in touch with one of the Guardian journalists in Iraq, who in turn has helped me contact the activists. We’re working on a way to get money to the women, and in the meantime I just wanted to post the news and get a discussion going.
It’s situations like these where I think it’s so very important to have rational thinkers band together to publicly condemn the ridiculous supernatural crap and religious fundamentalism that is invoked in the name of denying women basic human rights. While the war in Iraq continues to fail miserably, the women are left with the worst of it. They are raised to believe that an all-loving God has declared them to be property that can be traded, abused, and destroyed at the will of any man. If you think that American troops have brought women American freedom, take a look at this report published just a few months ago. Here are some highlights:
“Throughout the country, women reported increasing pressure to wear veils, including within government ministries,” the report stated. “Women were targeted for undertaking normal activities, such as driving a car, and wearing trousers, in an effort to force them to remain at home, wear veils and adhere to a conservative interpretation of Islam.”
About Basra, where Leila was murdered:
Basra, the formerly cosmopolitan oil capital in southern Iraq once known as the “Venice of the Middle East,” witnessed specific targeting of women. At least 57 women, warned to cover up by ominous graffiti on city walls, were found killed.
I have no more time or energy to rant about this today, but I’ll be posting on this again very soon to give you all a heads up on how to donate. In the meantime, I just want you to think about this: whether we’re talking about Bigfoot or aliens or homeopathy or the virgin Mary on an overpass, encouraging people to think critically is very, very important.