Perhaps because of a heavy demand, or a shortage of that particular DVD, I waited quite a long time for it to arrive, and if at risk of sounding almost cliched, it was worth the wait. The Stoning of Soraya M., director Cyrus Nowrasteh's drama based on a true story about the stoning of an innocent woman/wife/cousin/niece/neighbor/friend in the rural village of Kuhpayeh, is shocking for its realistic portrayal of a marriage where a husband plots with the local mullah to have his wife falsely accused of adultery in order to divorce her and marry a young girl. Rather than have to bear the financial burden of maintaining two households, Ali (the husband) fabricates an alleged affair. Soraya, her aunt, (and I believe that most of the Western world) are surprised (and shocked) once it is explained that in this particular system of law, if a man is accused of infidelity by his wife, she must prove his guilt, but if a woman is accused, she must prove her innocence. Under Sharia law, imposed in Iran by the Khomeni regime, adultery is punishable by death, and preferably by public execution such as stoning by the men (and boys) of one's community. Suffice to say, the scenes that follow of the execution are almost painful to watch. Ali (the husband) examines Soraya's body, and to his surprise, she is still alive after withstanding repeated strikes to the face and head; he summons the rest of the villagers for the final onslaught with the cry: "The bitch still lives. Grab a stone!!"
After screening the movie (just prior to its public release in 2009), Carl Cannon of Politics Daily, Huffington Post, wrote: ' Soraya M's brutal execution occurred more than two decades ago, but it was only last October that a girl barely into her teens was stoned to death in a stadium in the Somalian port city of Kismayo. Initially, her "crime" was said to be adultery, and her age given as 23. Actually, according to Amnesty International, she was 13 years old, and she came into the custody of an Islamic militia when she had the temerity to report to authorities that she had been gang-raped. Her three attackers were not charged. The girl was publicly murdered before 1,000 cheering spectators. Her name was Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow. '
Today, NOW President Terry O'Neill condemned GOP-controlled House for passage of H.R. 4970; she wrote:
The National Organization for Women condemns today's passage of H.R. 4970, the House Republican version of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill. Sponsored by Representative Sandy Adams (R-Fla.), H.R. 4970 not only strips important provisions that were passed by a bipartisan Senate vote of 68-31, but also changes and weakens many initiatives and preventive provisions that have been included in VAWA by both Republicans and Democrats over the past 18 years . . . Proponents of the Adams bill seemed more interested in railing against Washington bureaucrats and claiming (without evidence) rampant fraud by immigrant women who have been battered and raped, than they were about the plight of victims in desperate need of services and legal protections.
Their bill most assuredly is not about victims. The bill fundamentally undermines VAWA's 18-year history of victim-centered legislation by shielding perpetrators from accountability for their violent crimes, raising new hurdles to women escaping violent relationships, removing important college campus and housing improvements, rolling back provisions for culturally specific services currently in VAWA and turning its back on immigrant women and Native American and LGBT communities. Small wonder its proponents were not able to produce experts or professionals who support this bad bill.
NOW has "scored" this vote, meaning the organization considers a vote for H.R. 4970 a vote against VAWA. The 222 representatives in the House who voted for this bill abandoned victims of violence and enabled abusers, and they will be judged in the public arena and at the polls in November.
At this time, I'd like to take the opportunity to say that I am encouraged that you--the readers-- are all as interested as I am in the challenges faced by the 2nd Sex (women), the focus of this week's blog articles. Please keep sending me your emails and comments.
PS: Today's soundtrack: Ali Khan's Samlado (3rd Stage Remix)