Women’s rights: Western foreign policy double standards


by Rumbold
24th October, 2008 at 11:36 am    

Johann Hari has a piece (warning: graphic descriptions) on the way in which Muslim women are abused around the world. One of the most pertinent sections is when he talks about how Britain and the West have being willing to sacrifice the struggle for women’s rights in return for other benefits, whether economic or military:

“Our governments are equally hobbled from supporting Muslim women – for a very different reason. They claim to oppose the Taliban or the Iranian Mullahs because they abuse women. But when it comes to Saudi Arabia, they declare the just-as-vile regime “our close friend” and lavish cash on it. Why?

You can glimpse the answer by looking at the little-told story of the writing of Iraq’s constitution. In the original draft drawn up by the Iraqi political parties in 2004, there was a guarantee of equal rights for women – alongside a clause stating that Iraqi oil belongs exclusively to the Iraqi people. The Bush administration panicked. In the bargaining that followed, the US government demanded an opening of the oil fields to foreign companies – and in return they haggled away all women’s rights, allowing Shariah courts run by misogynist mullahs. While we as a society are addicted to oil, our governments will always put petroleum before feminism. While we suck on the Saudi petrol pump, smearing rhetorical oestrogen onto our bombs looks like an ugly trick.”


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Filed in: 'Honour'-based violence,Current affairs,Sex equality,The World






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  1. Pablo — on 24th October, 2008 at 11:57 am  

    Has Johaan shifted from supporting war to liberate Muslim women, through his cheerleading of the war in Iraq, to focussing on perfidious western governments and their alliances? That’s a positive step, I guess.

  2. Cabalamat — on 24th October, 2008 at 1:51 pm  

    Essentially the West has a tacit deal with Saudi Arabia. We know they could cause us a lot of hassle if they wanted too, e.g. by funding terrorism, getting nukes, etc. They know we could cause them a lot of hassle too. So the West agrees not to mind oo much about Saudi’s internal politics, and in turn, Saudi agrees not to do anything too nasty in its external politics.

    So yeah, it is about oil, but there’s more to it than that.

  3. Pablo — on 24th October, 2008 at 1:55 pm  

    Bangladesh has nothing to do with Saudi Arabia or oil rich Gulf states. But they’re all Muslims innit, says Johaan Haari, as he slaps his head with his fists, then bites his hand and drools.

  4. Refresh — on 24th October, 2008 at 1:58 pm  

    Its also about telling only half the story. Acid attacks, and it seems all attacks on women are to be attributed to muslims.

    Its worth following the debate on http://www.johannhari.com/archive/article.php?id=1393

    Which leaves everyone else to carry on with their ‘indiscretions’ with no batting of eyelids.

    I like Johann Hari, but as I say on that thread, the article is particularly shabby.

  5. Pablo — on 24th October, 2008 at 2:06 pm  

    Haari is a funny little fella. One minute cheerleading bombs being dropped on the heads of women and children to liberate them, the next moment conflating Bangladesh with oil rich Gulf states because they’re all Muslims, throwing out platitude and half truth to give the pretence of cogent argument, identifying the common thread then employing classical postures of hair tugging and hand slapping — “Oh it’s all our fault! Because we’re obsessed with oil!” Blabbing on about Jihadism when he supported the kind of morons politics that fed into and supported the rhetorical and moral tub thumping that strengthens jihadist ideology, throwing out sentences about the west setting up micro loan schemes when it is a Muslim country, Bangladesh, that pioneered this very thing. Quite unbelievable. Even more unbelieveble that it gets posted without commentary here.

  6. Refresh — on 24th October, 2008 at 2:10 pm  

    ‘Even more unbelieveble that it gets posted without commentary here.’

    That was exactly my first thought.

    Come on Rumbold, you should really go back to adding your own wise and considered reactions.

  7. Pablo — on 24th October, 2008 at 2:12 pm  

    Perhaps Rumbold was impressed by Haari’s article and thinks the truths are self-evident and don’t need to be elucidated or commented on further.

  8. Refresh — on 24th October, 2008 at 2:17 pm  

    In any case its not that ‘we are obsessed with oil’, we are obsessed with controlling global economies – and oil has been a pretty cheap way of doing it. I think Kissinger was the most honest (dispicable, but honest) on the subject.

  9. Sid — on 24th October, 2008 at 2:21 pm  

    But Johann Hari is spot on this. Absolutely spot on.

    He is the first western journalist to pinpoint Saudi Arabia’s ability to hobble foreign criticism by using its considerable resources as a weapon of financial and political blackmail.

    The thing is Johann sounds like he is scandalising the issue to get reaction. But that is because he is telling it straight without couching it in liberal and “responsible” BBC-speak.

    VAW is horrendous in Bangladesh and Pakistan, or in Arab states. To deny it or to fend it off with calls of “imbalanced” is wrongheaded and irresponsible.

  10. Pablo — on 24th October, 2008 at 2:31 pm  

    How is violence against women in Bangladesh linked into Saudi oil belligerence and dependancy Sid? Micro loans through Grameen have been in use in Bangladesh for over twenty years already.

  11. Sid — on 24th October, 2008 at 2:44 pm  

    I didn’t say that violence against women in Bangladesh is a component of Saudi oil, Pablo. Saudi Arabia tends to use its monetary clout in its relationship with the West, by buying off probing journalism of this kind from Hari.

    However having got that out of the way, let me say this:
    The effect of remittance from Bangladeshi migrant workers from Saudi Arabia is a massive component of Bangladesh’s foreign exchange earnings and of its GDP. Approx $7bn comes from remittances from workers in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia is the largest employer of these workers.

    Saudi Arabia uses its position as a source of employment to dictate political terms to Bangladesh. This is unrelated to this thread, but I know for a fact that Saudi Arabia pressured the Bangladeshi government to release Jamaati leaders from arrest by using the express language that if they didn’t, Saudi Arabia would stop taking Bangladeshi migrant labour.

    Thats the level of control that Saudi Arabia currently has over politics in Bangladesh. I suspect with Pakistan it has even more.

  12. Pablo — on 24th October, 2008 at 2:53 pm  

    The article contends that ultimately the West’s oil dependancy is preventing confronting violence against women in Bangladesh. I didn’t say that you said that Sid. The information about Jamaati-Saudi influence over politics in Bangladesh is interesting, but still does not define a link between Gulf oil dependancy and the human rights of women in Bangladesh. The continuum is not there.

  13. Sid — on 24th October, 2008 at 3:00 pm  

    The continuum is not there.

    Thats what you think, but have you ever been to Bangladesh? If Saudi Arabia, a country which bans its women from free movement in its own country, from driving, voting or gaining an education, has such influence on a country – what do you think is the effect of women’s rights on the recepient country?

    No effect? Some effect? A lot of effect?

    Presumably when you say “the continuum is not there” you have some studies or information to back it up?

  14. Pablo — on 24th October, 2008 at 3:06 pm  

    So the continuum is between oil dependancy in the West, and women’s rights in Bangladesh. A direct causal link, right?

  15. Sid — on 24th October, 2008 at 3:09 pm  

    A direct causal link, right?

    That would be a bit binary, don’t you think? :)

    I would say it has an effect which is growing. See the Islamicisation of Pakistan and now Bangladesh over the last 30 years as a function of the numbers of migrant workers year on year, as a possible area of study.

  16. Pablo — on 24th October, 2008 at 3:22 pm  

    Sid, don’t you think that Haari’s article is a bit binary to begin with? Is it really useful to bundle Bangladesh in with Arab states just because they’re all Muslim? Aren’t things a little bit more complex than that? Aren’t local ground factors in Bangladesh different from a narrative that cooks togther lots of disparate things and lumps them all on a continuum that leads directly back to western oil dependancy? Don’t little things like, oh, I don’t know, the crushing poverty that affects Bangladeshi families have more to do with the continuance of feudal attitudes that lead to the oppression of women there? Has Haari studied how micro loans are a Bangladeshi invention and have helped to liberate women there? And if the main reason for their upliftment is just to feed the children and provide individual dignity and independence and not part of a huge schema to ‘challenge the koran’? Is that what Begum Sajida in Chittagong is thinking when she can at last do something to lift her children out of malnutrition? Seriously Sid, all the Jamaati – Saudi references are interesting, but the simplification and binary-ism is in Haaris original article to begin with.

  17. Sid — on 24th October, 2008 at 3:42 pm  

    No I don’t think Hari has been binary at all. He is not saying that the effect of the Gulf oil is the *only* factor that has led to the oppression of women and the unacceptable levels of VAW in Bangladesh. Nor is he dicrediting the effects of microcredit on the empowerment of the ultra-poor, especially women, in rural Bangladesh.

    From my reading, what he is saying is that there is an effect that Saudis have on southasian countries because there is no denying the fact that Saudis have exported Wahhabi Islam via informal and formal relationships to Pakistan and Bangladeshi and its effects are beginning to be observed now after 30 years of this client-patron relationship. The first being by jobs, donations and other forms of patronage. The second by direct funding of Islamist elements in political parties in southasia. And this effect is greatest on the burgeoning lower middle class in urban regions.

  18. Pablo — on 24th October, 2008 at 3:53 pm  

    If the primary cause of feudalistic oppression of women in the developing world was Saudi influence and a hesitancy to address the problem in the West because of oil dependancy, there wouldn’t be oppression against women in India, China, Vietnam, and non Islamic parts of Africa.

  19. Sid — on 24th October, 2008 at 3:57 pm  

    You’ve constructed a false positive. Where has Hari said that the oppression of women in south asia is primarily due to Saudi influence?

    And since he hasn’t said that, aren’t your attempts to dismiss his entire article based on an incorrect premise he *hasn’t* made known as a strawman?

  20. Pablo — on 24th October, 2008 at 4:08 pm  

    No Sid it was in response to this:

    From my reading, what he is saying is that there is an effect that Saudis have on southasian countries because there is no denying the fact that Saudis have exported Wahhabi Islam via informal and formal relationships to Pakistan and Bangladeshi

    Is that a causal factor with the phenomenon af acid attacks? It’s too schematic. Things are more complex. The wider point I was making as a counter-example was how similar problems afflict parts of India which are not in hock to Saudi influence.

  21. Sid — on 24th October, 2008 at 4:14 pm  

    Is that a causal factor with the phenomenon af acid attacks? It’s too schematic. Things are more complex.

    Yes, you’re absoluetly right, there is no such link. But I think Hari has not simplified it or made any causal relationships. He has taken two narratives – one the Bangladeshi victim of an acid attack and the other the general oppression of women in the Gulf. I don’t see hat he has made a causal relationship between the two.

  22. Pablo — on 24th October, 2008 at 4:21 pm  

    The whole article is premised on how Muslim women around the world are being oppressed and the West cannot see beyond the oil barrel and therefore is engaged in a conspiracy of silence over the issue. In Haari’s mind, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia are contiguous societies.

    I’m a positive kind of guy though Sid. I’ll always look on the bright side. At least Johaan, number one cheerleader of the Bush doctrine and the detonation of cruise missiles to blow off the heads of women and children in Baghdad isn’t advocating bombing Bangladesh in order to emancipate a section of the female population there. For that we can be grateful.

  23. Zeyneb — on 24th October, 2008 at 5:13 pm  

    Pablo, your inability to spell Johann Hari’s name (all them foreign names sound the same, eh?) reflects your inability to understand anything he’s saying, I fear.

  24. Pablo — on 24th October, 2008 at 5:19 pm  

    Zeyneb, rest at ease, your fears are unfounded, any spelling errors are down to nothing more than human error. If you are Johann in disguise, I blow you a kiss, if not, I blow you a kiss anyway.

  25. Pablo — on 24th October, 2008 at 5:21 pm  

    Funny how all the Muslim men on this thread have by-passed the issue of violence against Muslim women in favour of arguments about Haari’s stance on Iraq.

    Well I am sure you are not referring to me Shaquil, because I am not a Muslim man.

  26. Sid — on 24th October, 2008 at 5:26 pm  

    In Haari’s mind, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia are contiguous societies.

    I don’t think they are. He’s done a great job of highlighting links that people who are familiar to both countries have known to be real and palpable.

    Dismissing him for his views on Iraq is *the* most stupidest thing I’ve seen argued against this article. Does it even have any bearing, especially considering that he is one of the few pro-Iraq commenators who has recanted his support of the war?

    People who argue against this article by him on those lines are not doing so for interests of Muslim women victims of violence.

  27. Pablo — on 24th October, 2008 at 5:46 pm  

    Has he recanted for his position on the Iraq war? Any links for that? If so, kudos to him, it takes guts to admit you were a barbarian. Well in that case his more nuanced approach to the issue may have come from personal remorse.

    Sid, I think it’s simplistic to ascribe the continuation of violence against women in a country like Bangladesh to factors as disparate from the grassroots of life in that country as Western oil dependancy. I have made that point several times, and you have even agreed with it. A more holistic approach would be to examine the specific sociological factors involved in the commital of the crime in Bangladeshi contexts, and a comparison with actual contiguous societies in neighbouring India, including West Bengal, none of which are under sway of Saudi political or cultural control. Is a feudally bonded Hindu woman in Orissa or Assam less oppressed than a Muslim woman in Sylhet? Does she face violence of a similar kind? How are these phenomenon replicated and challenged across the near developing world? Does the ‘Islamic’ context make contributory factors clearer by bracketing Bangladesh with Saudi Arabia simply because they are both part of the imagined Muslim world?

  28. Refresh — on 24th October, 2008 at 5:51 pm  

    If Hari had said, ‘ I know there are gruesome acts committed against women in all sorts of places ,often justified by tradition and culture, but for this article I want to focus on how our economic interests trump our genetically enhanced humanitarian instincts….and that is wrong’

    Then he has an argument, which I think Sid you think he is saying.

    As for him recanting his position on the Iraq invasion he is to be applauded. That said he is now almost putting forward an argument for a re-invasion.

    And I would argue that the idea of western humanitarianism died with Bush and Blair’s manifestation of the ‘white man’s burdern’.

    That there is little or no trust of our NGOs and charities, should be laid squarely at the feet of the warmongers.

  29. Sid — on 24th October, 2008 at 6:06 pm  

    Sid, I think it’s simplistic to ascribe the continuation of violence against women in a country like Bangladesh to factors as disparate from the grassroots of life in that country as Western oil dependancy.

    Agreed, but once again, Hari has not made that assertion. So, wrong tree barking, again.

    A more holistic approach would be to examine the specific sociological factors involved in the commital of the crime in Bangladeshi contexts, and a comparison with actual contiguous societies in neighbouring India, including West Bengal, none of which are under sway of Saudi political or cultural control.

    Yes, and if you do that you will see that, in general, VAW in Bangladesh is higher than in West Bengal, per-capita. But only just.

    Now you can argue whether that imbalance can be directly attributed to authority granted to men, via doctrinal conditioning of religion. Bigots like Muzumdar are frothing at the mouth to make that assertion.

    But so what? You have to accept that there are reasons why acid violence against women in by Muslim men in Bangladesh and Catholic men in Brazil and Italy is so high. Can the phenomena be due to a perfect storm of social and religious factors? Sure there are no simplistic causal relations that can be attributed, but the simple thing to note is this:
    Ask any woman in Bengal, and they will tell you that it is easier to travel in Calcutta unaccompanied than it is to travel in Dhaka.

    Now add to that the the influence that Gulf dollars buys into a society, in terms of religious conservatism and you will see that the situation for women’s rights is two maybe three generations behind the rest of the world.

  30. Don — on 24th October, 2008 at 6:21 pm  
  31. Rumbold — on 24th October, 2008 at 6:35 pm  

    Refresh and Pablo:

    Well, I tried to focus the discussion on the hypocrisy of Western foreign policy. Hence the title and quote. However, I don’t think that invalidates his points about Bangladesh. I would have liked to have seen them in separate articles on balance, because there was enough material for at least two pieces.

    Muslim women aren’t the only ones being abused, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored.

  32. Refresh — on 24th October, 2008 at 6:52 pm  

    Sid, why is Bangladesh so backward?

  33. Refresh — on 24th October, 2008 at 6:57 pm  

    Rumbold

    ‘Muslim women aren’t the only ones being abused, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored.’

    Somehow I don’t think they’ve been igored over the last decade. I would say they’ve borne the brunt of our attention.

  34. Rumbold — on 24th October, 2008 at 7:53 pm  

    For all the good it has done them. The sad fact of the matter is that some of the worst abuses of women’s rights takes places amongst Muslims. This is largely a result of culture, or else a misguided interpretation of the Qur’an, but it is a fact. Just look at Pakistan or the Kurds.

  35. MixTogether — on 24th October, 2008 at 8:09 pm  

    “Many of us feel awkward talking about the rights of Muslim women because we have overdosed on multiculturalism. ”

    Amen.

    How long do we have to wait until people over here just accept that as fact and stop pussy-footing around playing politics?

    Multiculturalism has been bad for women in minority communities.

    Come on, say it with me- it’s not that hard…

  36. Ashik — on 24th October, 2008 at 8:10 pm  

    I generally agree with Pablo.

    The country-specific situation in Bangladesh is the primary reason women are treated the way they are. Outside finances from remittances does not play a significant role. Bangladeshis have always held traditional views of women which is slowly changing with economic liberalisation and the wider availability of education. Nevertheless, traditions are maintained eg. Pudah culture for women is adapting as they go out to work in garments factories.

    Such culture is not being rejected but is adapting.

    The attempt to bring together expats, remittances, Islamic fundamentalism and mistreatment of women in Bangladesh is pathetic. Greater Sylhet is the main area of Bangladesh where the local economy has been transformed by remittances and large-scale investment from the West and the Mid East. It is also a bastion of traditionalist Sylheti Islam based on Saints and Sufism. Yet political Islam of the Jamaati variety is not widely supported as it is seen as a corrupt unIslamic ideology just like the Bengali and Bangladeshi nationalisms of the secular AL and BNP. As for Wahabbi ideology, many Sylhetis I know blame orthodox Wahhabi followers of poisoning the sacred fish at the Shah Jalal shrine (Wahabbis do not like people visiting shrines; syncretic).

    Shahnaz’s story brings out the interesting fact that acid throwing against women seems to be more common amongst theDhakaiya, who consider themselves liberal lords of Bengali secular culture. I have not heard of any attacks in Sylhet. Perhaps a strong conservative attachment to Islamic identity sometimes protects women against the worst expressions of mysogeny from people who are less practicing but more inclined toward political ideologies of religion and male-female relations. All this goes to show that even differing Bangladeshi regions have differing interactions of culture and religion and therefore clutching at disparate straws for ideological reasons cannot explain away violence against women in Bangladesh.

  37. MixTogether — on 24th October, 2008 at 8:15 pm  

    Rumbold,

    it is polite to talk about “a misguided interpretation of the Qur’an”, but Hari tells it like it is:

    “All over Europe and the US, Muslim women are pushing beyond a literal reading of the Koran and trying to turn many of its ugliest passages into misty metaphor.”

    If you believe that the Koran is the unalterable word of God, then you believe what it says which includes the right to beat women, alongside violent anti-semitism.

    It is there in the book. Rather than people having to stretch the reading of the text to justify violence, they are having to stretch it to stop violence.

  38. Sheba — on 24th October, 2008 at 8:29 pm  

    It is there in the book. Rather than people having to stretch the reading of the text to justify violence, they are having to stretch it to stop violence.

    Exactly. Unless the root cause of the problem is addressed – in this case the Islamic faith – the violence will continue.

    But nobody, not even Muslims, is willing to challenge the authority of the Koran as they may be relieved of their heads.

    But each to their own…

  39. Sid — on 24th October, 2008 at 8:37 pm  

    Sid, why is Bangladesh so backward?

    A number of factors:

    It is held back by a minute upper class layer of civil society (the ‘elites’ whom Ashik fondly calls the “Dhakaiya”) who have checked development at every opportunity by a strange brew of social conservatism and ingrained feudal hierarchy – held in place by the tenets, innuendos and ambiguities in the Qur’an. The danger of which is increasing by Saudi-aided “Jamaatification”.

    But the irony is that it is full of really bright, warm and generous poor people who don’t really give religion much importance. These are the least-beneficaries who are the key to the country’s development, if only its venal and stupid elite class could get its head around.

  40. Ashik — on 24th October, 2008 at 8:45 pm  

    ‘It is there in the book. Rather than people having to stretch the reading of the text to justify violence, they are having to stretch it to stop violence.’

    Mixed Together the above sentence is the reason that you are a part of the problem rather than the solution to solving issues like domestic violence. South Asians, even the more non-practicing ones are still influenced by culture and religion than non-asians.

  41. Sheba — on 24th October, 2008 at 8:55 pm  

    South Asians, even the more non-practicing ones are still influenced by culture and religion

    But a backward religion like Islam complements the backward culture of the subcontinent.

    This cannot be said for religions such as Buddhism and Sikhism which theoretically go against the very grain of subcontinental culture.

  42. Ashik — on 24th October, 2008 at 9:03 pm  

    ‘This cannot be said for religions such as Buddhism and Sikhism which theoretically go against the very grain of subcontinental culture’.

    lolz

    Sweetie, read about the many stories of HBV in the Brit Sikh community even on PP. HBV can occur amongst Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs.

    I generally don’t think it’s a good idea to conflate domestic violence with certain religions and cuultures in isolation. Even victims of HBV would be less likely to seek help from such elements.

  43. Sheba — on 24th October, 2008 at 10:01 pm  

    Sweetie, read about the many stories of HBV in the Brit Sikh community even on PP.

    Of course, but Sikhism rejects violence against women.

    Islam does not.

    Ipso facto, Muslim women have the double barrier of culture and religion to rail against.

    Very simple sweety.

  44. persephone — on 26th October, 2008 at 12:45 am  

    Sheba @ 43 Well said

  45. douglas clark — on 26th October, 2008 at 1:04 am  

    Ashik,

    You only say ‘sweetie’ if you are really trying to diminish someones elses arguement.

    Do you recognise yourself as that idiot?

    Probably not.

    Why do you always come across that way? Is it a special talent, or something?

    Ashik: played 100 : lost 100.

  46. persephone — on 26th October, 2008 at 1:12 am  

    ” you are a part of the problem rather than the solution to solving issues like domestic violence.”

    Ashik – your own statement above better suits you than mixtogether. And the reason is because:

    “South Asians, even the more non-practicing ones are still influenced by culture and religion than non-asians”

  47. Me — on 28th October, 2008 at 12:08 am  

    Why not mention India or China where women are lucky to make it through the womb. The greatest crime against women in the mass female infanticide in China and India. But its barely spoken of.

    And in India minority women have been subject to horrendous targeted sexual violence in Gujurat and
    Orissa. Why hasnt Johann “defender of Muslim women” Hari mentioned this. Does he even know about it?

    But like Saudi, trade with India and China is too important to bring these things up

  48. Me — on 28th October, 2008 at 12:15 am  

    Wow so many Quran experst on here.None of who know the letters of the Arabic alphabet. What an honour.

    Johann Hari
    “All over Europe and the US, Muslim women are pushing beyond a literal reading of the Koran and trying to turn many of its ugliest passages into misty metaphor.”

    —————————————————-
    “If you believe that the Koran is the unalterable word of God, then you believe what it says which includes the right to beat women, alongside violent anti-semitism.

    “It is there in the book. Rather than people having to stretch the reading of the text to justify violence, they are having to stretch it to stop violence.”

    pure ignorance. neither you or Johann Hari know classical Arabic – and the book is in Classical Arabic-
    and the verses have never been understood to mean what you , reading an English translation, wish to say they do. The idea that its “muslim women in Europe and the US” reinterpretating something that wasnt even there in the first place is arrogance beyond belief.

    The Quran has never been understood emtirely literally (how can any language especially one as rich as Arabic or elevated as Quranic Arabic be understood entirely literally) nor entirely metaphorically.

  49. Me — on 28th October, 2008 at 12:26 am  

    Sheba

    “But a backward religion like Islam complements the backward culture of the subcontinent.”

    why dont you anti-Muslim loons make up your minds? One minute your sqwaking about how Islam is an alien middle eastern semitic implant in India (as opposed to native religions like Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism); the next your claiming it complements the culture.

    If you seriously believe Islam complements the culture of the subcontinent I recommend reading islamic groups opinions of the culture of the subcontinent. Its not very complimentary.

    Are you seriously suggesting Islam supports idolatry > or the caster system? bring your proof if you are truthful

  50. Guru — on 28th October, 2008 at 12:39 am  

    Sheba, Jasvinder Sanghera certainly found liberation for women in Sikhism (rolls eyes)
    and Sikhs have the highest rate of female infanticide on the subcontinent- they clearly fit in extremely well with the backward culture there

  51. persephone — on 28th October, 2008 at 1:00 am  

    Guru @ 50 what you say about female infanticide in places like the punjab is true. But the distinction that Sheba was making was that muslims have the double barrier of religion AND culture to fight against.

    With sikhism, as a religion, a central tenet is one of equality. Socially, yes it is not always followed.

    What alternative path would you have had Jasvinder Sanghera take to liberate sikh women then?

  52. saira — on 3rd November, 2008 at 5:38 pm  

    Bangladesh is held back by a political class that is totally corrupt and self serving. The civil organisations are in the pocket of the two parties. Sylhoti’s are not loyal to Bangladesh because Bangladesh is not loyal to Sylhoti’s. There is too much centralisation and Sylhoti’s don’t benefit from central government investment. Sylhoti’s are dependent on family they have in UK or America rather than Bangladesh for financial aid.

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