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View Diary: Human Rights Advice from a Past President to a President-Elect (207 comments)

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  •  Human rights awareness takes many forms (7+ / 0-)

    I like to think of human rights as the right to equality and dignity. Jimmy Carter, I believe, gets this on a very fundamental level. I'll share a personal story that drove the issue of human rights directly into my heart and bone marrow:

    I was traveling in Pakistan with my husband on my honeymoon several years ago (my husband did a student exchange in college and wanted to go back and visit his host family). We were in the back of an open pick-up with several other people, all men, traveling over the mountains to a small town. Far ahead I saw a person in the road and as we approached, it became clear it was a woman wearing a Burqa (the covering women wear with the screen in the eye portion). She noticed us coming and walked over to the side of the road, and then she did something that will forever fill me with rage, sorrow, and incredible compassion:  she hurriedly went to the rock wall before the truck reached her and stuck her face in a crack with her back to the truck. It was as if she were telling the men in the truck, "I'm sorry for existing, I'll just hide my very being from your presence."  At least that is how I interpreted it. That and extreme terror of being perceived as a wanton woman for being out alone in the middle of the day.

    We were in Pakistan for a month, basically trekking and visiting old places my husband visited while in college that were peaceful then, but are now considered terrorist refuges: Peshawar, the NW Frontier Province, Gilgit, Abbatobad. In every town that was west of Abbatobad I was usually the only woman out in the day. Of course I had my head covered and I always was with my husband, but I was shocked and ultimately depressed that the only time I saw females over the age of 13 was after dusk. And, they were always covered head to toe with burqa's, and traveled in groups.

    I'll never forget it. And, I'll never go back unless I go to help the women there.

    "The object of life is not be on the side of the majority but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." Marcus Aurelius

    by CanyonWren on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 09:55:02 AM PST

    •  Is it possible she was afraid of being molested.. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CanyonWren, mieprowan

      ...or raped? My friends in the ME say women are not safe anywhere and some of them say they cover themselves first and foremost to protect from being abused.

      •  Could have (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bablhous, kck, mieprowan

        It seemed more like it may have been somewhat acceptable, as the men didn't show any outrage, but she definitely sent the message that she didn't think she was worthy to be out in the open. The women in W. Pakistan and Afghanistan are in hell. Very sad.

        "The object of life is not be on the side of the majority but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." Marcus Aurelius

        by CanyonWren on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 01:33:49 PM PST

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        •  I had a neighbor from Pakistan... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bablhous, CanyonWren, mieprowan

          ...who didn't believe me that she could call the police if her husband beat her. She asked what the police would to to her. I had to find it in writing on the web before she believed me.

          She was a pistol and it did not take her much time to get engaged in life in America. She was shocked at the information she got here about Islam and how so much she was told was religious duty was not in the Koran. Oh my, the women at the local mosque taught her! Communication will be the key to self-empowerment.

          •  That's incredible (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bablhous, kck, mieprowan

            The women in the bigger towns that were educated seemed to be somewhat empowered, but one has to wonder what is being withheld from them, too. They also feel trapped, you can tell the way they reach out to you to engage in conversation.

            "The object of life is not be on the side of the majority but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." Marcus Aurelius

            by CanyonWren on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 04:33:12 PM PST

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    •  something about (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CanyonWren

      making a huge point out of not making eye contact. It does sound like a submissive gesture, to put it mildly. And I can see why you found it so disturbing.

      Presumably she assumed you were all men, because women would not ride in the back of a pick up truck?

      "A society based on cash and self-interest is not a society at all, but a state of war." - William Morris

      by mieprowan on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 04:44:48 PM PST

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      •  I'm not sure if she even saw me, to tell (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mieprowan

        the truth. We whizzed by as her head was planted in the wall until we were well on down the road.

        "The object of life is not be on the side of the majority but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." Marcus Aurelius

        by CanyonWren on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 09:26:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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