Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Mixed messages

I got home from beers last night and was just settling in to bed when I heard a single gun shot behind our house. Now, those who remember the Darfur blog remember when I (arrogantly) laid out what gun fire to be worried about and what gunfire was "o.k". Single shots are definitely worrying.

It turns out that a man was beating his wife and her family intervened and someone was killed. It isn't clear who it was, if it was the husband or a family member, but the family's intervention in to this man's beating led to someone dying.

Earlier, oddly, I had been talking with my staff about this very subject. I was wondering if people will intervene when they hear a woman being beaten. The general consensus was that, while a certain amount of wife abuse is considered right and proper for a man, if he is really wailing on her, the community will intervene, even going so far as to beat the door down to rescue the woman.

Now, that is pretty remarkable, don't you think? I can't imagine a situation in the States where someone would break down the door of someone else's house to rescue a woman who was being smacked around. Maybe, maybe they'd call the police to report a domestic disturbance, but, more likely, they would turn up the volume on American Idol, shake their heads about the trash living next door and give a sympathetic/pitying/censuring look to the woman when they saw her walking out with a black eye the next day.

God knows there are so so many things wrong with gender relations here. Women are subservient and women are expected to act as their husbands chattel, for sure. But there is something about the communal idea of protection, that a woman's family would come and defend her to the point of death that I find... heartening.

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