Violence Against Women: The Afghan Girl and the African Maid

BlogHer Original Post

It’s been a strange week for violence against women. First, there was the claim in the New York Post that the hotel housekeeper accusing Dominique Strauss-Kahn of rape was a prostitute. Or a “hooker-maid,” as the tabloid so charmingly put it. This doesn’t explain why she had bruises and other injuries consistent with evidence of a sexual assault. Or that both sides in the case agree that some sexual encounter happened when she went to clean DKS’s $3000-a-night suite.

But never mind. The housekeeper has now sued. But her case is in jeopardy because she didn’t tell the truth on her asylum application or about other details of her impossibly messy life. As a result, she quickly went from being a devout Muslim woman to being a money-laundering hooker with a boyfriend in prison. Sound familiar? So now prosecutors say her credibility is shot, and they're terribly unhappy with her, when the real issue they should be concerned with is: was she raped?

As for the immigration issue, I couldn’t help but think of Jose Antonio Vargas and his essay in the Times’ Sunday Magazine revealing his own illegal status and the many lies the award-winning journalist told so he could stay in America. Lots of upstanding people--teachers, principals, parents--helped him along the way. He was brave to reveal his story, and many applauded him for speaking out. But knowing her own dark secrets, and what might happen to her if they came out, the Guinean woman was even braver. What did she have to gain by accusing DSK of rape? Very little, as it turns out. But at least the case is still pending.

The other thing that happened was the release of the lone suspect arrested for mutilating a young Afghan woman. I’m sure you’ll remember this case. Aisha escaped Afghanistan with the help of Women for Afghan Women after her husband, a Taliban fighter, her father- in-law, and brother-in-law tied her down and cut off her nose and ears with the support of the local Taliban mullah. The story made international headlines when Time magazine ran a cover photo of Aisha illustrating the kind of violence Afghan women can expect if they ditch their husbands. Aisha is recovering in New York, and has yet to have reconstructive surgery because she is still so traumatized by the attack.

Women’s rights groups are furious about the man’s release. Aisha’s father is distressed, too. Here’s what he told
The New York Times:

“The man they let out, he was Aisha’s father-in-law,” said Mr. Mohammedzai, his voice cracking as he spoke. “He was there at the time when they chopped off her nose and did the cruelty to her. He was one of the culprits and should have been punished, but the government released him.”

You’re going to be even more livid when you hear why he was freed. Because Aisha wasn’t in Afghanistan to testify against him, and because someone else sliced off her nose. He was just there, I suppose, enjoying the show.

afghan girl

Credit Image: Raap Horst on Flickr

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