The extent to which woman in rural areas are punished around the world for their alleged love affairs never ceases to amaze me.
As you know at Care2 we’ve been following the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani who was initially sentenced to death by stoning in Iran for the having an “illicit relationship” with two men after the death of her husband.
Now over in India I’ve learned that a tribal woman was forced to parade naked through three villages – nearly 6 miles – for having an “illicit love affair with a man from a different community.”
Reports indicate that the woman was molested and taunted as she walked through a large crowd that followed her. The incident was also filmed on a mobile phone adding to the humiliation. The footage, however, finally awoke the police from their silence.
Police Finally React to Incident
The complete inaction of police and powerful village people regarding the incident has been completely inexcusable. Village council chief Mangal Baske claims “pressure from the villagers” kept him from reporting the incident.
The police – who remained silent on the incident until the mobile footage went into circulation – have now arrested six men who allegedly molested the paraded woman.
The district police have now been called on to submit a detailed report about what happened to both the West Bengal’s Women’s and Human Rights Commissions. The Women’s Commission has also announced an inquiry on behalf of the paraded woman and the Human Rights Commission warns that they will do their own investigation if they are not satisfied with what is submitted by the district police.
What About the Adulterous Men?
What gets me every time with these terrible stories is the complete one-sided nature of what happens. Each time we hear of the woman being punished for “illicit” relationships, but what about the men?
Are the men of adulterous relationships ever punished? Why aren’t they sentenced to death by stoning with their partner or forced to parade naked through the streets hand in hand with their lover?
Having an affair takes two so why is it only the women who must endure the public shaming?
If you ask me I think it’s because historically men have been given the freedom to express themselves sexually without recourse, yet women have been expected to save their sexuality for their husbands only. So when a woman steps outside of her marriage she faces punishment, often pubic, to warn other women from doing the same.
The men, equally to blame for the indiscretion, however, often remain unpunished and free to cheat again and again leaving yet another woman to shoulder the responsibility.
Photo by Kema Keur adapted and used under a Creative Commons license.