Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Women and Multiculturalism

Here's an utterly harrowing piece written by Johann Hari in The Independent, titled "How Multiculturalism is Betraying Women." The subject is basically a few horrifying court rulings in Germany recently, where basically Muslim women are getting a different version of justice because they come from a culture where it's perfectly acceptable to abuse your wife. Exerpt-

The crux case centres on a woman called Nishal, a 26-year-old Moroccan immigrant to Germany with two kids and a psychotic husband. Since their wedding night, this husband beat the hell out of her. She crawled to the police covered in wounds, and they ordered the husband to stay away from her. He refused. He terrorised her with death threats.

So Nishal went to the courts to request an early divorce, hoping that once they were no longer married he would leave her alone. A judge who believed in the rights of women would find it very easy to make a judgement: you're free from this man, case dismissed.

But Judge Christa Datz-Winter followed the logic of multiculturalism instead. She said she would not grant an early divorce because - despite the police documentation of extreme violence and continued threats - there was no "unreasonable hardship" here.

Why? Because the woman, as a Muslim, should have "expected" it, the judge explained. She read out passages from the Koran to show that Muslim husbands have the "right to use corporal punishment". Look at Sura 4, verse 34, she said to Nishal, where the Koran says he can hammer you. That's your culture. Goodbye, and enjoy your beatings.

I wish I was joking, but I am unfortunately not making this up. Personally, I would like to know how this judge could look into the eyes of another woman and say "Sorry, but I think it's alright for your husband to continue beating you just because you were born in a country where it's ok."

Of course this case is indicative of more than what appears at the surface, as Europe is currently going through a cultural shift due to an influx of immigrants. Now I have nothing against immigrants, as you may recall, I am the daughter of two of them, but there's a difference between respecting parts of a culture and doing the moral thing when a suffering woman asks for your help. Furthermore, if you want to live in a new country you have to follow the laws of that country even if they didn't apply to you earlier- for example, I am not going to walk around New Zealand brandishing a firearm and insisting that I have a right to it because they're legal in the United States. If you don't like this, general rule, you're always free to hop back onto the plane and return to the country you came from.

By the way, here's a point that is seldom understood by people in the United States where everyone has the same legal system- in many parts of the world, you have a different legal systems based on the person's ethnicity. Here in New Zealand, for example, if you broke the law and you were a Pakeha (white person) you would go to a different court than would a Maori. For whatever reason, it looks like Germany has decided the same standards apply in their country too. Thank goodness Thomas Jefferson decided that in America, at least, all men are created equal...

So my sympathies go out to Nishal, and I hope she gets through this debacle all right. And I hope that Europe regains its senses, and realizes that human rights are not negotiable.