|Better not to tell...?|
Book Review of Half the Sky: Chapter Four, "Rule by Rape"
Brutal, intimidating, shaming, and, often, damning its victims to a life with the perpetrator, the epidemic of rape in South Africa wields a terrifying control over the women who are forced to bow under its weight. Destroying their lives, often before they have even begun, rape is a common weapon used to keep women “in their place” in a culture that is twisted into deformity by the “traditions” of the past that greatly favor males while choosing to relegate females to second class citizen status, if even that.
Once again, I found it hard to imagine that the victims of this cruelty would be forced to marry the very perpetrator of the abuse, but that is the “tradition” of the culture these young women (often only girls of thirteen, sometimes younger) are living in. The authors take us through an introduction to the “rules” (unspoken tradition) of the culture that allows a man who cannot afford the dowry of a girl he wants to marry, to kidnap and brutally violate her, leaving her with the strange alternative to then marry the rapist, since she is too ashamed to admit that she has been violated and is now considered “damaged goods” whom no other man would ever marry. The authors make the case that, although, technically, the laws are against rape, the traditions of the culture far outweigh the laws in reality. Few girls trust the legal system and opt for the only choice they think they have – to marry the abuser, which is truly no free choice at all. In this bizarre twisting of justice, the victim becomes the guilty party, and the abuser, the victor, who wins the prize of a bride he has brutalized. Hard to fathom the reasoning behind this cultural tradition that enshrines the perpetrator and punishes the victim.
Turning the reader's attention, once again, to focus on how these women can be helped, the authors lean heavily in the direction of empowerment through education. In this chapter, I felt the authors began not only to prescribe possible interventions, but to reveal a liberal political bias in favor of the leaders of the Women's Movement here in America. They mention such leaders as Gloria Steinem, from ERA fame, Joe Biden and Richard Lugar, advocates of the International Violence Against Women Act, which on the surface appears to be worth supporting, but is hotly disputed by many in the Christian community as to the real political motives of the people behind this law. While I strongly advocate for the protection of women from the kind of abuses that are described in this book, I believe we have to bring a God informed wisdom to the discussion of solutions, remembering that men can be victims in a counter charge that treats them equally disrespectfully. This is where I believe the need for a biblical world view and deeply ingrained love and respect for all human beings, male and female, must be brought to bear. The absence of that perspective in the authors' writing and advocacy of “female rights” political movements, leaves me uncomfortable with some of their philosophy. How about you? What do you think? Love to hear your feedback on anything we have covered on this very revealing, and sometimes, controversial book.
I have reluctantly decided to make this the final chapter to be reviewed because of a lack of interest in the material on the part of most of my readers, who have dropped off noticeably with each passing week since beginning these reviews. I do not believe it is worthwhile to pursue reviews of a book for which there is no appetite among my readers. For any of you who are interested in this material, I believe we (Shannon Walls and I) have given you a strong introduction to the material, should you want to read on.
I have also decided, again, somewhat reluctantly, to step back from blogging for a time to evaluate some areas of my life that are in need of a closer look to determine their value in the overall scheme of things. There are some areas that I am interested in pursuing that will put a serious demand on my time and force me to better prioritize how I do things. I have completely enjoyed writing this blog and sharing with all of you who have done me the honor of reading what I wrote. Until we meet again, either in person, or over the world of the blogosphere, may God go with you and bless you in all you do.