Copyright 2012 by Paula S. Jordan
This post is about a story in progress. It’s a real story, of justice denied, playing out this very second in Afghanistan.
It’s also about the power of words.
The story involves 18-year-old Lal Bibi who was kidnapped, raped and tortured by Afghan police, and now, being ‘dishonored,’ is required by Afghan custom to commit suicide. As usual in such cases, none of the rapists have been arrested.
How convenient is that? In Afghanistan, where women are taught not to resist, a rapist knows that his victim will kill herself, removing both her testimony and her presence as a constant reminder of his guilt.
But these rapists — all policemen, mind you — picked on the wrong young woman. She is fighting back, in the hope that her attackers will be brought to justice, thereby redeeming her honor and dignity and saving her life.
Here’s the plot twist: In a few days the US, Japan, the UK and other nations will meet to discuss pledges of four billion dollars to Afghanistan, in part to support its police forces!
And our hero? The almighty pen.
Avaaz.org, “ … a global web movement to bring people-powered politics to decision-making everywhere,” is conducting a world-wide petition to be sent to the nations meeting in Japan this weekend to consider those donations. The petition, from “concerned citizens across the world” urges the donor nations to ensure that “…any financial aid to Afghanistan is conditioned on an end to the blatant impunity that has resulted in the rape, abduction and torture of Lal Bibi by the Afghan Local Police. [ and that] … Afghan officials must … work to protect women across Afghanistan.”
Friends, signatures are pouring in. The count as of this posting is 118,000 and increasing at the rate (during the 10 minutes that I watched the listing of new signers) of about one every two seconds. And from everywhere: Serbia, Malaysia, Philippines. Macedonia, Slovenia, Namibia — I didn’t know they even had the Internet in Namibia! — as well as the larger nations.
How many countries would join together to commit their “swords” in defense of one eighteen year old girl? And how many would die if they did?
But that mighty pen, now amplified by the most powerful communications technology ever invented, has enabled individual people around the world to work together bloodlessly to save that one particular life in a country far distant and far different from their own, and to protect and improve the lives of millions more.
Makes a hell of a story, doesn’t it.
P.S. The title of this post? It’s from a T-shirt I saw recently. The > is a mathematical symbol not much used in everyday math. Whatever is shown to the left of the symbol is greater than whatever follows it. Translation obvious.