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Jul 29 2005

Misogyny Travelogue 2005: Spotlight on The Subcontinent

Chickn_roast_rasp
I eat skin! Roasted chicken with leeks, potatoes, Brussel’s sprouts and a rose-raspberry-lime sauce

Americans have never heard of the Asian subcontinent, but I am pretty sure that even if they had, they wouldn’t give a fig for the plight of its female inhabitants-of-color. Which is why the only news that comes out of the region — or indeed, any other region — celebrates the male fixation on guns and bombs. Unless you peruse a bunch of Indian news websites while eating your dinner.

First stop, Northern Pakistan, where male godbags, always on the lookout for new and illegal ways to totally screw the ladies, have been hard at work striking blows for patriarchy. A bunch of asshole “tribal elders,” in a fit of nostalgia for the good old Taliban and its infectious, world-famous joie de vivre, have formally disinvited women from life’s rich pageant, barring them, either as voters or as candidates, from upcoming local council elections.

The Taliban, you may recall, is the group who popularized the humorous bumpersticker “Women. Can’t live with’em? Go ahead and shoot’em.”

Next, in Delhi, a “spurt in rape cases”; and its aftermath of PFT (Pure Female Terror) is being used as a pawn in an imbroglio between opposing factions in the government (secularists vs. fatwaists). At the furor’s epicenter is, what else, a pitiful helpless rape victim from some hick town who’s been oppressed by Muslim clerics. Brutalized by her father-in-law, Imrana was subsequently informed by her provincial panchayat that, since she’d had the nerve to get raped, she’d have to remove herself from the midst of her husband and five kids. She is apparently haram, which is Shariatese for “uncool”; Not only has this whimsical fatwa had rather a polarizing effect on the Indian populus, it has also turned the popular parlor game “blame-the-victim” into a sort of bloodsport. Since politicians the world over love nothing so much as giving a crap about pitiful helpless rape victims in front TV cameras, Imrana has become, à la Terry Schiavo, the most famous woman in India. Unlike Schiavo, who had the luxury of being brain-dead,  Imrana remains a sentient being, and appears to be suffering a nervous breakdown as her tragic life morphs relentlessly into public spectacle.

Onward to Chhattisgarh, India, where a “spurt” (the technical term) of “atrocities on women” has resulted from the habit of self-appointed witch-hunters to traipse through the countryside, point the fickle finger of fate at women they don’t like and shout “j’accuse!” The astonishing effect of this astonishing behavior is the torture and murder of the accused. In response, the Indian government is looking to make sorcery a felony, which they seem to think will protect women who don’t practice it from being accused of practicing it and thereby getting themselves brutalized.

Fun facts to know and tell: The UN has estimated that, since 1984, more than 2500 women have been murdered in India because their countrymen had the impression they were witches. Think this is just provincial hoodoo? Think again! Guess how many sorcerers have been murdered in the UK and Australia in the past 5 years? Four thousand!

Next week we travel to witch-plagued Australia, where women, in apparent droves, have taken to hovering over toilets!

UPDATE: Several alert readers have expressed the viewpoint that 4000 murdered witches in the UK and Australia seems a suspiciously high figure. It now appears that the UN report to which I allude does not exist. A bit of research shows that the website from which I got the statistic is a bit on the godbaggish side, and so must necessarily be suspect. If facts are your bag, see the comments section for details.

UPDATE II: Over 170 Pakistani women have issued a giant "fuck you" to the male douchebags who banned them from participation in elections, and have registered as candidates "with full enthusiasm."

32 comments

  1. res publica

    Mmmm, I eat the skin too, and I’m not sorry! As far as I’m concerned, the rest of the chicken is mostly just skin-substrate.

    As usual, your post blows me away. I am, however, glad to see that the Indian government posesses the political will to confront head-on the pressing problem of sorcery. Would that our own government were so bold.

  2. Tricia

    Fan of yours delurking here…

    That 4000 statistic doesn’t look right to me – there are about 1000 homicides/year in the UK, and 300-400/year in Australia, according to http://www.crimestatistics.org.uk/output/Page40.asp
    and http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/facts/2003/fig014.html

    4000 is an awfully large percentage of that.

  3. LeisureGuy

    Perhaps the 4000 figure is like the statement that Americans have never heard of the Asian subcontinent: exaggeration for rhetorical effect.

  4. frobisher

    Chicken skin rocks! As Tricia says the 4000 figure seems very high. It seems immgrants from the African sub- continent have been importing children from their homeland for “religious” purposes. This came to light after a torso of a young boy was found the in the River Thames in London. But as the victims are foreign and black the trade continues virtually unchecked. And society turns a blind eye, better that than be labelled “racist”.

  5. alphabitch

    Rose-raspberry-lime sauce? that might be too good to be true. Is that a sprig of thyme next to it? is there thyme (or some other herb) in the sauce or on the chicken?

  6. Mrs. Coulter

    Hmmm…I wonder if by making “sorcery” illegal, they can successfully push these accusations into the legal system (rather than having them resolved by murder). The real question, though, is would any of these alleged sorcerers be found guilty, and by what standard of evidence…and if modern standards of evidence are used (by which no one would ever be found guilty of sorcery), would the accusers then decide to take matters into their own hands again…

    What a ridiculous state of affairs.

    Also, I find the 4000 figure not just questionable, but impossible. In the western world (which includes Australia and the UK), people accused of witchcraft are generally accused of more tangible activities like satanic ritual abuse of children. They get arrested (and sadly, sometimes, convicted, since children are remarkably pliant interview subjects), not murdered by their accusers. During the early to mid-90s, there was a big spike in these incidents in the English-speaking world, including several high-profile cases in Australia, the UK, and the US.

  7. res publica

    Man, I tried to grow thyme from seed this spring. I had all these lovely little sprouts. That promptly died.

    *sigh*

  8. Twisty

    Lard knows I’m no fact-checker; the 4000-murdered-witches figure was quoted from the website to which the hypertext links. But you’re right. It does seem a bit high. I will now spend the next 15 minutes trying to track down the UN report alluded to in that post.

  9. Twisty

    Here’s the protocol for that roasted chicken, if anybody cares. I made this up as I went along, so replicate at your own risk.

    What you do is, you get out your huge frying pan, like you were making fried chicken. Coat your chicken in olive oyl, salt, pepper, and thyme, roast it at 475 for 15 or 20 minutes, then throw some potatoes and leeks into the pan, stir’em up with the fat, and continue roasting for 20 more minutes. Take everything out of the pan and put it in one of those big bowl/plates they use in semi-decent restaurants, and invert a mixing bowl over this to keep it warm. Put the frying pan over a medium fire, dump some frooty wine in there, scrape up the browned bits and potato starch. Add a dollop of Dijon mustard, a squeeze of honey, a few mushed up raspberries and a teensy bit of red wine vinegar. Squeeze in a lime. Stir this up for 2 or 3 minutes. Pour. Eat. Yum.

  10. Mrs. Coulter

    Sorry, I wasn’t questioning you, but rather the quality of the source.

    Here’s another site claiming that this entire story is bogus:

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/news_04jul.htm

    2004-JUL-25: India: Proposal to ban witchcraft — an apparent hoax: A number of websites have reported that the United Nations has released a report expressing concern about the large number of women around the world who were accused of being witches and murdered — generally by vigilante groups out of fear. The report allegedly states that India and some countries in Africa, Asia and South America have high incidences of witchcraft-related killings. They estimate that 2,556 women were accused of witchcraft and executed in India between 1987 and 2003. They report a further total of 4,000 murders in Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Australia between 1999 and 2003. The websites report that the government of India is planning to tackle the problem by outlawing witchcraft. That would be like outlawing Christianity because so many Christians are being killed by Hindus. We assume that the story is a hoax. There were zero witches murdered for their religion in the UK and Australia since 1999; there does not appear to be any UN report on this topic. 14,15,16

  11. Mrs. Coulter

    PS: The chicken looks yummy!

  12. Twisty

    The plot thickens. Re: witchcraft, I have discovered the following, dated, oddly, July 25, 2004. I say the date is odd, because the news item alluding to the witchcraft law was on an Indian news site dated July 18, 2005.

    “2004-JUL-25: India: Proposal to ban witchcraft — an apparent hoax: A number of websites have reported that the United Nations has released a report expressing concern about the large number of women around the world who were accused of being witches and murdered — generally by vigilante groups out of fear. The report allegedly states that India and some countries in Africa, Asia and South America have high incidences of witchcraft-related killings. They estimate that 2,556 women were accused of witchcraft and executed in India between 1987 and 2003. They report a further total of 4,000 murders in Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Australia between 1999 and 2003. The websites report that the government of India is planning to tackle the problem by outlawing witchcraft. That would be like outlawing Christianity because so many Christians are being killed by Hindus. We assume that the story is a hoax. There were zero witches murdered for their religion in the UK and Australia since 1999; there does not appear to be any UN report on this topic.”

    A Snopes search comes up empty, however.

    Meanwhile, I did find this, which alludes to a UN report claiming that in Tanzania “500 elderly women accused of witchcraft are killed annually.”

  13. Twisty

    Whups, I see that Mrs. Coulter and I have been a-clicking similarly.

  14. res publica

    I regret to inform you that the previous post re: roasted chicken caused Res Publica to drool all over his laptop until it shorted out, resulting in his untimely passing. Mr. Publica bequeathed his archives of “Martha Stewart Living”, “Texas Highways” and “Tiger Beat” magazines, his world-renowned Judith Butler Memorial Library of Patriarchy-Blaming Theory and Research, and his extremely mean (but probably edible) cat to the Twist Faster Center for Morselography, Varmint Photography, and the Blaming of Patriarchy.

    Sincerely,
    The Estate of Res Publica
    The Republic of Dogs

  15. Twisty

    Judith Butler, dead?

  16. res publica

    No, but “Memorial” sounds so dignified.

  17. Finn

    Request for Future Blog Post

    I don’t know how to post requests or comments beyond replying to one of your posts, so this may be out of context. But…

    I’m curious what feminists think of Hillary Clinton for president in 2008. Not that you’re the mouthpiece for said group or anything, but I would love to hear your take on it.

    Return to lurking,
    Joe

  18. Mrs. Coulter

    Hmmm…those mysterious UN reports. No wonder the agents of the patriarchy are seeking to install the walrus mustache also known as John Bolton as ambassador. I didn’t notice the date thing…which is definitely suspicious. The lesson: never believe *anything* you read on the internet. Ever.

  19. bitchphd

    I want that chicken. Now. Gimme.

  20. Kate

    Unless our spectacularly useless government has suddenly become adept at covering up thousands of murders, I can pretty much categorically state there have been no witch murders in Australia in recent times. There was one poor woman whose husband killed her in an ‘exorcism’ but that was several years ago.

    Yes, I mean, it’s a very patriachal country of ours but there isn’t a whole lot of murdering going on here, thankfully.

  21. Sunya Harjis

    Haha this is funny: write a post that’s 15% food, 84.39% rape, and 1 questionable detail, and watch everyone talk about chicken and the dumbfuck 4000 figure.

    Anyway now is a fine time to point out that I’ve mentioned earlier how important it is to arm everything with a vagina, to which several fellow readers replied variously with “you don’t know what you’re talking about,” “that will just make things worse,” and my personal favorite: “that might just lead to an arms race.” It all sounds like stuff I’ve heard before from men, except with hissy politeness instead of fearful self-righteousness.

    Men say fun stuff about girls with guns! Example: “Women don’t belong in combat!!!!” Is the refrain of the US military patriarchy. But stories like the ones brought up here remind us all that women are shoved into combat whether or not they like it every day all over the world.

    (Meanwhile our friends over at Dillon Precision remind us that not all men demand their willowy blondes unclothed and in positions of submission: an AK rig goes with everything in your wardrobe, ladies, and guaran-fucking-tees that men are looking at something besides your boobs. Also, it’s possible to be armed and patronized, in case you were worried you’d have to pick one or the other.)

    I digress. To get back to my point: this kind of violence against women will never fall under the heading of “terrorism”, just as its victims never fall under the heading of “victim of war.” A few thousand people are murdered because of their religion or tribal status… that’s genocide! The UN and the US are all over that shit! But how many uncounted thousands, perhaps even millions, of women are violated and slaughtered over the year every year just for being born female? We have a War On Terrorism (recently downgraded to a McSkirmish meal or something, I can’t even tell anymore.) The two major combat zones alone will suck up $200 billion in federal funds, and that’s just our little retribution for the deaths of 5,000 people in New York.

    But where is our War on the War Against Women? Why isn’t the world-wide proliferation of social, political, cultural, physical – even lethal – violence against women considered a war at all? I mean, it differs chiefly from formal war and terrorism in that it is practiced in every nation and is conducted almost entirely against unarmed non-combatants, but surely we can invent a new definition of war to remedy this silly oversight?

  22. Anonymous

    Howdy from Western Australia lurking,

    Mighty efficient pick-up, commenters.
    Better than most mainstream news sites.
    I’ve trashed my long-winded rebuttal and made the chook roast with sauce instead. With frozen raspberries and an end bit of a 2004 Wynn’s Coonawarra Riesling. And goose fat instead of oil for the roast.
    Hell of a good taste.

  23. Buffalo Gal

    Re: Thyme from seed

    too late for res publica, but in case anyone else cares, it’s easier to get mint-family plants than start them from seed. They often don’t come true from seed, so you may not get what you were expecting. This can mean subtle variations in scent and flavor. A good way to get exactly what you want is to check your friends’ gardens. Mints are spreadacious, so your friends will be happy to give you a starter.

  24. deja pseu

    “But where is our War on the War Against Women? Why isn’t the world-wide proliferation of social, political, cultural, physical – even lethal – violence against women considered a war at all? I mean, it differs chiefly from formal war and terrorism in that it is practiced in every nation and is conducted almost entirely against unarmed non-combatants, but surely we can invent a new definition of war to remedy this silly oversight?”

    Yes!!!! Exactly.

  25. LeisureGuy

    Minor correction to post from Sunya Harjis: the number of deaths from the attack on the World Trade towers was not 5000 but somewhat less than 3000.

    I’m not sure why accuracy is so important to me. I could blame the patriarchy, but I suspect it’s something else. But when I read inaccurate statements in an article, I begin to be uneasy about the rest of the article. YMMV.

  26. Amy P

    There’s a recent story involving some African immigrants in the UK who were torturing/performing home exorcisms on an eight-year-old Angolan girl who they believed to be a witch. The stories I’ve seen on this case say that this is a fairly common phenomenon among African immigrants in the UK.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1639879,00.html

  27. LeisureGuy

    Speaking of the Asian subcontinent, Nicholas Kristof’s current column in the NY Times provides a horrific story that makes Pakistan a most dubious ally in any effort to extend the reach of freedom and democracy. Sounds like a terrible country.

  28. Twisty

    Holy crap, LeisureGuy, you’re not just whistlin’ Dixie. Talk about blame-the-victim as bloodsport.

  29. StealthBadger

    The “arm everything with a vagina” at first struck me as odd, because the image of a vagina as armament, well, sort of seemed… WTF? Then I took another sip of coffee, and re-thought correctly.

    Sounds good to me, for what that’s worth. The whole “do your best to encourage over half your people to be at the edge of a terrified nervous breakdown” theme has been going on for well over 4k years, and has yet to produce anything positive. No surprise there.

  30. Mrs. Coulter

    A vagina is perfectly good armament. It sucks in big hard things and spits them out all small and squishy when it’s done with them.

    And why question the 4,000 figure? Because there’s plenty of patriarchy to blame without relying on things that are patently inaccurate.

  31. dread pirate roberts

    got here from alphabitch. i heard a rumor that there are no women bloggers. “inaccurate” is such an inadequate word at times.

    all the women i know are armed with sharp wits and strong voices. some may have guns. good.

    nice chicken dish.

  32. StealthBadger

    Mrs. Coulter:

    Perhaps, depending on how you define “turns,” “hard,” “sucks,” and “big.” Not what I was meaning though. I was more sleepily wondering how someone was supposed to “arm,” oh, say, me with one, and being very puzzled for a moment as my too-literal fatigued brain was churning over possibilities banal, funny, puzzling, intriguing, and dubious. I’m sleepy and my train of thought is not so much going down hill, as embarking on a major excavation project. With that in mind, I’m going to step away from the keyboard and go to sleep. :D

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