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April 08, 2005

"In the long annals of judicial stupidity. . ."

Theodore Dalrymple discusses the rights and wrongs of a recent British court case:

She lost the case, and also an appeal, but won at the last hurdle. The Guardian reported that after her victory, she said she "could scream with happiness."

When they heard of her victory, many Muslim women around the country must have wanted to scream with quite different emotions, despair and rage prominent among them. For Lord Justice Brooke’s ruling, that Shabina Begum’s human rights had been denied, and that she had been discriminated against illegally on religious grounds, displayed a complete and invincible ignorance of the social context of the case. Lord Justice Brooke saw no evil, heard no evil, and felt no evil. In effect, therefore, he was giving succor to those Muslim men who still abuse women in a medieval fashion.

Regardless of whether Shabina Begum acted in this case without duress and of her own free will, which seems to me highly unlikely given that the traditional place of Muslim women is not the public spotlight, the fact is that substantial numbers of young Muslim women are virtually enslaved in Britain; they grow up in what can only be called a totalitarian environment. I know this from what my patients have told me. They are not allowed out of the house except under escort, and sometimes not even then; they are allowed no mail or use of the telephone; they are not allowed to contradict a male member of the household, and are automatically subject to his wishes; it is regarded as quite legitimate to beat them if they disobey in the slightest. Their brothers are often quite willing to attack anyone who speaks to the women in any informal context. They are forced to wear modes of dress that they do not wish to wear. Their schooling is quite often deliberately interrupted, so that they are not infected by Western ideas of personal liberty; ambitious for a career, they are kept at home as prisoners and domestic slaves.

This sort of case is coming to light more and more frequently, where the stated goals of the plaintiff are actually in direct opposition to the underlying "real" goals. Unfortunately for Muslim women especially, the surface appearances are often sufficient for the legal system, despite the pernicious effects of the legal outcomes.

Hat tip to the "vacationing" James Lileks.

Posted by Nicholas at April 8, 2005 09:59 AM
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