Women Blamed for Tsunami

// 22 December 2005

In the desire to make sense of last year’s tsunami Sharia clerics are blaming women and clamping down on perceived “sin”. The Times reported on the creation of a “Control Team” who’s job is to hunt out inappropriate behaviour amongst women. The hypocrisy is stark, a prostitute is paraded through the streets and humiliated but her client is allowed to go free without censure. Women without headscarves (and therefore allegedly without humility or morals) have their hair shorn.

In times of trouble we all seek to make sense of what’s happening, but why is it, more often than not, women get the blame? Where is the sense, even in Sharia law, of blaming the powerless for social ills? Surely if the tsunami is supposed to be punishment from Allah then the problem lies with the powerful, with those who control and shape society? And yes, as ever, men are allowed carte blanche to not only carry out socially unacceptable behaviours but to punish women for “allowing” it.

Whilst I am more than aware of all the issues of imperial judgementalism and so forth isn’t there an issue that reconstruction and development should allow a fairer and more just society to emerge. Instead it looks like it’s powering a fundamentalist and misogynistic one.

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