follow A Selection of Varied Topics

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Perspective [maybe]

Today I came across this article about child brides in India and Middle Eastern countries. Besides being shocked at a practice I knew existed but have never thought much about, I was of course reminded of patriocentricity. 

At first I was struck by how good we have it in the US, even most girls in patriocentric households, in comparison to girls in other parts of the world. And that's a valuable reminder. 

At the same time...that article reeks of patriocentricity. Every description of the mindset, if not the customs, in those cultures exactly matches that of patriocentricity. 

Forced early marriage thrives to this day in many regions of the world—arranged by parents for their own children, often in defiance of national laws, and understood by whole communities as an appropriate way for a young woman to grow up when the alternatives, especially if they carry a risk of her losing her virginity to someone besides her husband, are unacceptable.

The husbands may be...abductors who rape first and claim their victims as wives afterward, as is the practice in certain regions of Ethiopia.  

 Well this doesn't sound at ALL like the Old Testament laws, does it! 
Deut. 22: 28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels[c] of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

Remember this too: The very idea that young women have a right to select their own partners—that choosing whom to marry and where to live ought to be personal decisions, based on love and individual will—is still regarded in some parts of the world as misguided foolishness.
Some parts of the world. I take a sarcastic amusement in the shock that the author of this article would display at some of the patriocentric nonsense available right here in the US. 

He regarded me dubiously. "You have children?" he asked.
Two, I said, and the sheikh looked dismayed. "Only two!" He tipped his head toward a young woman nursing a baby in one arm while fending off two small children with the other. "This young lady is 26," he said. "She has had ten."
The sheikh made various pronouncements concerning marriage. He said no father ever forces his daughter to marry against her will. He said the medical dangers of early childbirth were greatly exaggerated. 

I am reminded of Debi Pearl's claim that the supposed dangers of multiple and too-frequent childbirths are negligible, compared to the more important 'eternal' consequences of not being quiverfull. 

"If there were any danger in early marriage, Allah would have forbidden it," a Yemeni member of parliament named Mohammed Al-Hamzi told me in the capital city of Sanaa one day. "Something that Allah himself did not forbid, we cannot forbid."Al-Hamzi, a religious conservative, is vigorously opposed to the legislative efforts in Yemen to prohibit marriage for girls below a certain age (17, in a recent version), and so far those efforts have met with failure. 

This last statement leaves me completely confused. At one time, I wish patriocentrists would take this approach: if God did not forbid women to work outside the home, go to college, or limit the number of children they have...why should we forbid it? On the other hand, the negative effects of this sort of thinking are evident in the above example: if we think that we can only make decisions on topics the Bible specifically speaks to, we will perpetually ignore real problems. 

Anyways, in's horrible to think that girls are undergoing real abuse in this way. [That is where a patriocentrist would leave it, probably with a subtle or not-so-subtle insinuation that the daughters of patriocentricity never undergo real abuse.] 

It is also horrible to remember that patriocentrists often share the same harmful values that drive families in India or Yemen to deny their daughters education, worth and freedom.