Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Better Learn How to Treat them Right

By Justin McMahan

ISTANBUL - When I first heard this Rihanna song, I was sure it would overnight become the girls’ empowerment mantra of 2009. It never did. The beating she suffered at the hands of Chris Brown might have dampened the creative promotion ideas of her handlers.

Anyway, it was around the same time that I did a brief stint working with Senator Boxer’s foreign policy team. Women’s rights is a high priority for her. During the recent committee reshuffling, she took the helm of the international organizations and women’s rights sub-committee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

But it was in preparation for then Secretary-designate Clinton’s SFRC nomination hearing that I became more attuned to the issue, especially as it pertained to the Taliban’s treatment of women. I saw pictures of girls, burned by acid thrown by Taliban henchmen. Disturbing is an understatement. I consider myself a moral relativist, but there are some actions that leave the realm of relativism and enter the realm of moral absolutism. Throwing acid on girls who just want to go to school is one of them.

That said, these slides are not meant to be a commentary on the chador or burqua. Though I am not personally in love with the idea of women wearing burquas by mandate, it is not my place to judge a culture in which it is the practice. This means that these slides are in no way a commentary on religious or cultural practices in Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Iran or Egypt.

What they are is a commentary on violence against women, whether it takes place in Swat, Buner, Washington or San Francisco. Turn on sound to listen.

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