July 31, 2003


So many women in Bangladesh are attacked with acid that an Acid Survivor's Foundation is necessary.

From their Web site:

Acid attacks have traumatic consequences - physically, psychologically, and socially. Nitric and sulphuric acid causes skin tissue to melt; in some cases leaving the bones underneath exposed and dissolving bone. Most seriously, acid striking the eyes permanently damages them, and many survivors lose one or both eyes.


Acid violence is a relatively recent phenomenon, with the first documented acid violence case occurring in 1967. Victims are attacked for many reasons, such as for spurning the sexual advances of predatory males or rejecting marriage proposals. Recently, however, children, older women and sometimes men have been attacked in the course of family or land disputes, vengeance, and dowry demands.

Andrew Apostolou found a BBC article (with photos) about an acid attack victim in Pakistan. Do not click this link unless you are fully prepared to be horrified.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at July 31, 2003 01:18 AM

The Middle East is full of people who retaliate against women. Whether it be due to rejecting advancements, arguments, revenge, or even other less provocative reasons, it has been a problem there for quite some time. Women in those areas are considered 'lower' than men in almost all aspects.

Here's another story (this one involves scalding water, and a woman of Asian descent):


This is why I find it sickening to see libs and lefties struggling to portray those areas as something they're not...

Posted by: Gaijin at July 31, 2003 07:28 AM

Here's a question:

Why is there so much intolerance (and hatred)of women in this region? One answer may be they are closer to the roots of the so-called Great Monotheism which, anthropologists, were established in part in reaction to dominant mother cults in the Middle East. It's ongoing power struggle,

Posted by: Roger L. Simon at July 31, 2003 09:11 AM

My guess is that the maid in the comment above was from the Philippines. Litterally thousands of women and men from the Philippines take jobs doing whatever they can in the middle east attempting to escape the poverty and lack of opportunity in their own country. It's sad to read of abuse of this nature, but I know that it is not at all uncommon.

Posted by: Ron at July 31, 2003 11:42 AM

Roger: I think men are just flat-out afraid of women. Boys are scared of girls, what can I say. Women possess a magic men can never control. Men use force instead.

I've heard the theory of the mother cults, and how this struggle was encoded in the Eden story of Genesis, and there may be truth to it, but I think the fear is much more innate. I think it's found in every young man with a feeling toward women.

I've read about some of the personal rites and preparations the 9/11 terrorists engaged themselves in, as well as some of the other rituals and lifestyles their fellow extremists espouse, which all suggest to me an unhealthy preoccupation with sex. The Christian preoccupation with witchcraft seems much the same. I don't know if there are any Jewish analogs.

Posted by: Hovig John Heghinian at July 31, 2003 12:47 PM

How about this, Hovig? One of the key prayers in ORthodox Judaism is to thank God for not being born a woman.

Posted by: Roger L. Simon at July 31, 2003 12:54 PM

Perhaps men, hyperaware of predators in their communities- and their own predatory instincts- are subsequently reluctant to let their proverbial guard down or express vulnerability, lest they be subdued in some manner. The constant tension of maintaining a mask of strength creates resentment towards women who do not feel compelled to swagger, and so men do to women what they fear having done to themselves, in an attempt to deny women the freedom to be weak.

One thinks of (paraphrasing) Abe Lincoln: "A weak man does not become strong by making a strong woman weak." Arab fetishes sure would make for an awesome thesis....

Posted by: Rob La Raus at July 31, 2003 02:00 PM

Yikes! Roger, I think you win with that one.

Posted by: Hovig John Heghinian at July 31, 2003 02:22 PM

This was a Cellar Image of the Day recently:


Disturbing and haunting.

Posted by: Undertoad at July 31, 2003 04:11 PM

Can I assume you've read The Red Tent by Anita Diamant?

Posted by: grs at July 31, 2003 04:49 PM

"One answer may be they are closer to the roots of the so-called Great Monotheism which, anthropologists, were established in part in reaction to dominant mother cults in the Middle East. It's ongoing power struggle,"

This is just Jew-bashing by another name - very popular in feminist goddess-worshiping circles in the 70s and 80s. Ah yes, the famous Orthodox prayer which was also spoken of in scandalized tones by feminists looking for a patriarchy to sneer at. (And Jewish feminists have answered them very well.)
This is what it's about. (And the Conservative movement liturgy changed it anyway.)

No, it doesn't "win," Hovig, because Orthodox Jewish men don't force their wives to cover their faces, prevent them from driving or working outside the home (on the contrary,Jewish women ran the home business so that their husbands could study Torah), practice "honor killing," or pour acid on them. On the contrary, they are obligated to sexually satisfy them in any way pleasurable to both, rape is forbidden both within and outside of marriage, polygamy was forbidden in Judaism by the Middle Ages, the marriage contract originally included a large payment for the wife's "divorce insurance." (And no, they don't have sex through holes in a sheet.)

So how does this supposedly nasty monotheism create a society which gives women more legal protection than in the polytheistic societies next door?

Finally, the prehistoric matriarchy is far from proven, and there is no reason to assume that a matriarchal society - if it existed - would be any more just or caring than a patriarchal one.

I had to sit through a lot of this matriarchy-goddess pseudohistorical crap in my former Leftist life, and I am surprised to see it from someone like Roger who I thought knew better. I am not Orthodox, but I support Orthodox feminists who "work within the system" as well as liberal Jews who have transformed it. It's a complex, subtle, beautiful system, and any critique of it should be a bit more nuanced and informed than "Ugh. Hulk say: monotheism bad, matriarchy good."

For anyone who wants to know more I recommend Carnal Israel by Daniel Boyarin.

Posted by: Yehudit at July 31, 2003 10:41 PM

Some definitions of monotheism. Or was it monolatry?

Posted by: Yehudit at July 31, 2003 11:26 PM

I would also like to point out that the polytheistic Greeks didn't treat women very well either, even while they worshipped female deities.

Posted by: Yehudit at July 31, 2003 11:41 PM

Yehudit - I was merely being glib, of course. I apologize if I offended. I'm sorry you didn't give me the benefit of the doubt, however. Christians don't have a cultural problem with throwing acid in womens' faces either (etc), but we do seem to have a strong fear of witchcraft (see Potter, Harry), and I think this is due to fear of women and sexuality at least in some part. Maybe I shouldn't speak for other religions, but I think we can all agree Islam is certainly an extreme case, at least as-practiced. Perhaps Hinduism comes into the picture as well.

Posted by: Hovig John Heghinian at August 1, 2003 07:15 AM

Gaijin/Roger, Bangladesh isn't in the middle east. The BBC article is grim, it's been front and centre on BBC's South Asia page for a few days. For what it's worth, I'm a NY-based Brit married to a Bengali guy. We own an apartment in Dhaka and travel there annually. It's a terribly unlucky third world country and obviously has its lunatic fringe, it's hyper-religious and a lot of undereducated and unworldly people, but in my humble opinion it's a mistake to lump it in with genuinely mysoginistic cultures (hell, their PM's a woman), or even intolerant ones. My family/friends over there are almost all middle class, but I've never experienced any racism or women-hating (or Catholic- or westerner-hating, for that matter) from the poorer people I interact with either, even in the rural parts. Just a lot of curiosity. My two cents.

Posted by: sohotosoho at August 1, 2003 11:39 AM

Well, Sohotosoho sort of beat me to it, but here's my two cents anyway:

Before this monotheism thread goes any further, remember that this IS a South Indian phenomenon. Sati, for example, is NOT a Muslim institution. Bride-killing is a horrific problem in Hindu India at least as much as in Bangladesh or Pakistan. For that matter, female infanticide has been a problem in Confucian China. Female genital mutilation exists in both Muslim and non-Muslim African countries. And so on, and so forth.

Posted by: Dave L at August 1, 2003 01:07 PM

"Why is there so much intolerance (and hatred)of women in this region? One answer may be they are closer to the roots of the so-called Great Monotheism..." -- RogerLSimon

Disparaging historical monotheism (which was a vast moral improvement to animist, idiolatrous and polytheist societies) on the basis of contemporary acid attacks, is a rather weak and ill-conceived argument.

Unless you can verify that cultures practicing animism, fetishism, voodoo, idolatry, etc., were/are without misogynist violence, your comment represents anti-religious bigotry, as it attacks Judaism, its offshoot, Christianity, and its pursuant heresy, Islam.

And it's a strange kind of attack to want to make: I read this horrible tale of acid-scarred victims and thanked God for the work of (monotheistic) charities in the area that treat burn patients. I thought of the many volunteers who are inspired by belief in a loving Redeemer to go and help people who have no way to repay.

Yet you read about this and hastened to denigrate a nigh-worldwide belief structure.

The aberration is not the mainstream. The preponderance of evidence negates your proposition.

Posted by: Bleeding Heart Conservative at August 2, 2003 03:41 PM


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