Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A Blow For Rapists' Rights

Juan Cole gets all feminist today, and ties Bush's anti-woman policies to the regression of women's status in progress in Iraq:

"By nominating a man (John Roberts), Bush reduced the number of women on the Supreme Court. Sandra Day O'Connor is no progressive, but she knew what it was like to be locked out of the Old Boys Club, and she ruled in favor of women's issues like affirmative action and reproductive rights...
She is being replaced by a man who has no sympathy for any of the things she stood for..."
Like abortion rights. The National Abortion Federation states that "...As an attorney in the Justice Departments of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Roberts repeatedly argued for the reversal of Roe v. Wade stating that there was "no support in the text, structure or history of the Constitution" for the reasoning behind Roe."

In an interesting take, Cole goes on to point out that if abortion rights are outlawed thanks to the addition of Roberts to the Court, it will in essence grant rapists the right to force impregnated victims to carry to term. Then, Iraq:

"The same juvenilization of women, the rendering of them wards of men, can be seen in Bush's Iraq. Contrary to the propaganda Bush's team is so good at producing, the secular, Arab nationalist Baath Party had passed some of the more progressive laws and regulations about women in the Middle East. ... The Bushies like to pose as liberators of Muslim women, but they have brought to power Muslim fundamentalists who are obsessed with subjugating women...
a draft of the new Iraqi constitution contains a provision that puts personal status law under the authority of religious judges. Marriage, divorce, inheritance and other such matters would be judged according to the religious law of the community to which the person belonged. This step would be a big set back for women's rights in Iraq."
Cole wrote about this back in January when the Iraqi Governing Council voted to abolish the 1958 civil personal status laws in favor of religious law, thus leaving women at the mercy of various clerics' interpretations of shari'a. At the time, Paul Bremer wouldn't implement it, but we all know what happened to Paul Bremer. The women who would actually be affected by this didn't look at it quite as sanguinely:

"Women are outraged… this is going to open new doors for repression in the most advanced country on women's rights in the Arab world! Men are also against this (although they certainly have the upper-hand in the situation) because it's going to mean more confusion and conflict all around.
What happens when all the clerics agree that a hijab isn't 'preferred' but necessary? According to this new change in the 'ahwal shakhsiya' laws or 'personal circumstances' laws, all women will have to cover their heads and according to Shari'a, if a woman's husband decides that she can't continue her education or work, she'll have to remain a house-wife."
And in a later post, Riverbend is still stunned:

"I'm not the only one- everyone I talk to is shaking their head in dismay. How is this happening? How are we caving in to fundamentalism?"
The attempt failed back then, but the drafting committee of the new constitution has less than 10 women on a 71-member board. That's under 14% representation for a group that makes up 49.4% of the population. And even the quota guaranteeing women 1/4 of the seats in the new parliament is likely to expire after 2 terms, ensuring even less representation.

Whether Bush's geniuses saw this coming, which makes them deliberate parties to oppression, or whether this blindsided them (unlikely), which would make them too stupid to run this or any other country, the effect is the same. And the paternalism that runs through every other of Bush's contacts with the female constituency soaks through his nomination of Roberts like menstrual blood through a sponge.

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