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Four days ago, the New York Times reported that on May 1, 2014, in a mosque after Quran recitation classes mullah Mohammad Amin raped a ten-year old girl. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/20/world/asia/struggling-to-keep-afghan-girl-safe-after-a-mullah-is-accused-of-rape.html?_r=0. This was an abhorrent crime, the type of which we have heard about all to often – the religious violating the innocent. However, this particular crime perpetrated by this particular rapist on this particular child took on horrific proportions, because it was committed in Afghanistan where many believe the child has dishonored her family simply by being raped. The young victim now fears for her life at the hands of her own male family members. An honor killing of this unimaginable sort is so steeped in the fabric of Afghani society and culture that even the young victim’s mother sees the cemetery as her daughter’s safe-haven.
And what of the mullah who confessed to having had sex with the 10-year old? He has none of the fears that now plague the child. In fact, other mullahs have come to his defense. They, together with militia members, the Taliban and government and religious officials have supported the rapist, with some going so far as to threaten those individuals attempting to keep the victim from harm.
But why does the mullah need a defense at all, if his actions are truly punishable by killing the victim? Why did he magnanimously offer to marry the 10-year old? Why would he claim that the child looked older than her 10 years, when she was clearly pre-pubescent, weighing 40 pounds? Why would he claim she consented when the rape was so violent that it broke the wall between her vagina and her rectum, causing the child to lose copious amounts of blood? One answer comes to mind – both the rapist and the society in which he committed the rape know, in their hearts, that rape is wrong and that the rape of a child in a sacred place by someone who should be her protector is not merely criminal, but despicable and dishonorable.
So, what can we say about a society that would blame the powerless for the crimes of the powerful or the father that would rather kill his child than the person who violently harmed her. One word comes to mind – cowardly.
Photograph of Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni being prepared for the execution by hanging. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Although we have made great strides recently, America still has a long way to go before gays and lesbians have full civil rights. Yet, we are one of the more tolerant countries in the world. While we debate whether gays and lesbians should have the right to marry, in over 70 countries homosexuality is a crime. It’s a capital offense in seven of those 70. Mauritania, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, United Arab Emirates, and Somalia all punish homosexuality by death. One’s life is an extreme price to pay for one’s sexuality.
- In 2005, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, two gay, Irani teenagers, were executed by hanging because of their sexuality.
- In 2008, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh warned homosexuals to leave Gambia, “a country of believers,” within 24 hours or else suffer decapitation.
- In 2005, Saudi Arabia sentenced more than 100 men to prison or flogging for “gay conduct.”
- In 2005, a 50-year-old Nigerian man was stoned to death after admitting he had committed a homosexual act.
- In Kabul, Afghanistan, the Taliban, using a tank, buried an 84-year-old man under a stone wall for engaging in homosexual acts and did the same for the same reason to three men in Kandahar.
- In 2000, the Saudi Arabian government sentenced over 100 men to prison and floggings for attending parties with same-sex couples.
- In the Sudan, lesbian women have been flogged and buried to their necks and then stoned.
- In 2011, gay activist David Kato was beaten to death in Uganda.
Http://www.ranker.com/list/7-worst-capital-punishments-for-being-_illegally_-gay/joanne, and http://www.answering-islam.org/Authors/Arlandson/homosexual.htm
The 7 sited countries are located either in Africa or the Middle East where the Quran and the hadith (Muhammad’s words and actions) are used, many say wrongly, to support the ultimate persecution of gays and lesbians, as the will of Allah. So strong is this religious belief that it permeates the culture in each of these 7 countries as well as in other countries in the region that criminalize homosexuality, making it near impossible to change attitudes. Liberia’s President and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, admitted as much, when responding to a Liberian newspaper’s demand that she uphold African values and her “African womanhood” by ceasing to seek justice for gays and lesbians. She said that to decriminalize homosexuality would be counter to cultural tradition. Http://www.dallasvoice.com/countries-homosexuality-illegal-punishable-death-10107063.html.
Government-approved atrocities against the LGBT world community are vicious and widespread, but the numbers are dwarfed by the personal, ad hoc, rampant acts of hatred against the community. Yes, America has come a long way, but America’s journey is only a miniscule part of the whole story. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. recognized, “No one is free until everyone is free.” Americans must remain vigilant against intolerance and inequality until the LGBT community is treated fairly not only in America, but in every other country on earth. See, http://caraobrien.tumblr.com/post/409268731/homosexuality-punishable-by-death-in-7-countries, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_by_country_or_territory.