Spotlight
Family Law Awards 2020
Shortlist announced - time to place your vote!
Court of Protection Practice 2020
'Court of Protection Practice goes from strength to strength, having...
Jackson's Matrimonial Finance Tenth Edition
Jackson's Matrimonial Finance is an authoritative specialist text...
Spotlight
Latest articles
Hundreds of thousands of companies worldwide fall victims to hackers every year. Is your firm one of them?
SPONSORED CONTENT Image source: Information is beautifulYou and other lawyers and legal assistants in your firm likely have accounts on the hacked websites listed in the image above. If a hacker...
New complaints handling guide offers advice to local authorities
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman is today issuing new guidance on effective complaint handling for local authorities.Based on previous documents, the new guide offers practical,...
EU laws continue until at least 2038 and beyond
The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020.  But in matters of law it fully leaves on 31 December 2020.  But EU laws will continue to apply, and be applied, in the English family courts from 1...
Family Law Awards winners announced in virtual awards ceremony
The winners of the Family Law Awards 2020 were announced at 4pm during a much-anticipated virtual awards ceremony. Over the past ten years, the Family Law Awards has recognised the leading players in...
Behaviour-based divorces still merit close consideration
Some recent cases illustrate the evidential and procedural issues involved in dealing with proofs on the merits of divorce, which are worth considering even though most cases may conclude on a...
View all articles
Authors

Penny Booth: Are any values worthwhile?

Sep 29, 2018, 19:13 PM
Slug : PennyBooth08122011-952
Meta Title :
Meta Keywords :
Canonical URL :
Trending Article : No
Prioritise In Trending Articles : No
Date : Dec 8, 2011, 06:35 AM
Article ID : 97383

Penny BoothI do not know much of the background to this story, and I am glad that is so. You must have caught the story about the jailed rape victim who has now been freed but agreed to marry her attacker - no?

She is Afghan - I only mention that so that some context can be put on the story. She was raped by a relative and was imprisoned and gave birth to her baby in prison. She was sentenced, so the newspaper, The Times, has it, to 12 years imprisonment for adultery - incidentally, the same term, it seems, as her rapist was given for raping her. She at first refused to marry her attacker in some ‘bargain' to be set free early from prison - and no, I am not kidding. She was then one of the subjects of a film about women's rights (‘In-Justice') but the EU cited concerns about relations with the Afghan Government and the safety of the women concerned in the documentary for not showing the film. The woman has now been pardoned by the Afghan president. At nineteen, she and her baby daughter faced a bleak future in gaol - but I am not sure how much brighter it now is, even though she is no longer in prison.  

What is shocking is the reluctance of EU diplomats to permit the showing of a documentary telling her story. They cited concerns about relations with Afghanistan and fears about the safety of women in the film, but one wonders what sort of attitudes towards women and family life are being portrayed here, and by implication, tacitly supported by a failure to censure. The lack of courage which is shown is in stark contrast with the sheer bravery demonstrated by this woman. She seems to recognises the stark, nay, brutal, reality of her existence - that it matters whether she has a man about the house and a father for her child, that she will be even more (if that is possible) unrecognised, without power and vilified even, and her child regarded as a ‘bastard' in Afghan society if she does not marry her rapist. What seems clear to her is that no other man will marry her because she is no longer a virgin and has a child to look after. Without male support she and her daughter face struggles, to say the least. There has to be something wrong in that - in anyone's culture.

The most recent news on this sad tale is that the rape victim has set a dowry of around four times the size of the average dowry in Afghanistan - a sum of around £14,000 - which makes the apparently agreed marriage highly unlikely as the rapist-groom and his family do not have the money to pay this dowry.

There are some values that really are universal. Recognition of the rights of women to say no to sexual intercourse, to be recognised as a victim when ‘no' is ignored, and not to be forced to marry an attacker, the convicted rapist who put her in this position, has got to be among these universal values. To be forced to contemplate marriage like this in order to bring peace and avoid further ‘trouble' or even bloodshed, between two families has taken the minimal life choice from this woman. By comparison, women in the west take so much for granted - but actually, we should not be excusing reprehensible behaviour by saying how much better it is by comparison with what we are accustomed to here.

Penny is a freelance lecturer and writer, and will soon be taking up an appointment at the University of Manchester Law School as teaching fellow in Family and Child Law. She is also an Honorary Research Fellow at Liverpool University Centre for the Study of the Child, the Family and the Law.

Penny sets the questions for Family Law journalCPD, a new way to gain CPD points by answering multiple choice questions based on the content of the journal. Click here to follow Penny Booth on Twitter.

The views expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily those of Family Law or Jordan Publishing and should not be considered as legal advice.

Categories :
  • Articles
Tags :
Authors
Provider :
Product Bucket :
Recommend These Products
Related Articles
Load more comments
Comment by from