I can’t recommend that you watch this video of an Afghani woman being flogged. Its very disturbing. Truth is it’s not that different to what goes on behind closed doors in the developing Western world, where women and children are often beaten with impunity.
I should know I was beaten regularly as a child growing up in an ultra religious Christian family, sometimes for as little as laughing during prayers. You see religion gives you all kinds of excuses to commit human rights abuses.
What makes this video so disturbing is not what you see but what you hear.
Another thought, in watching the video are we any different from the men who stand around watching the woman being beaten?
It is interesting to see this video in the context of the stories from the Swat Valley in Pakistan.
The NY Times Lede blog (http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/03/setbacks-for-women-in-israel-pakistan-and-afghanistan/) put it together with other stories from Afghanistan and Israel, and got some flak for suggesting a possible equivalence between Photoshop-ing pictures and flogging women. (I found this post via Fred Ritchin’s important blog, After Photography, see http://www.pixelpress.org/afterphotography/). The issue shouldn’t detract from the important issue of gendered representation this blog raised.
For one of the most moving multimedia stories I have seen in some time, see “Class Dismissed in the Swat Valley” on the NYT multimedia site at http://video.nytimes.com/video/2009/02/22/world/asia/1194838044017/class-dismissed-in-swat-valley.html
What is revealed in these stories — the abuse of women — is not just restricted to the developing world — its also taking place behind closed doors in our own societies as domestic abuse. To that end, see the (problematic) campaign for Women’s Aid that has celebrities made up as domestic abuse victims — see http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/apr/03/domestic-violence-advertisement-keira-knightley
In watching these videos from Pakistan are we different from the men conducting the beating? Yes, very different, so long as these visual accounts become the basis for mobilising opposition to violence against women in these circumstances.
THANKS DAVID – you alerted me to my typo! I meant to make the point, as you did, that these actions are not the preserve of developing or Islamic countries. As in my own experience.
I do wonder though about the effect of constantly negative Islamic stereotypes. Are Afghani’s all smack growing, wife beating, child abusing, gun toting, Islamic fundamentalists? I doubt it but sometimes its hard for people to come to any other conclusion.