Tuesday, August 25, 2009

From Erica: in the news

To make up for the past couple of weeks of being gone on the vacation, here are some of the news articles that have been catching my eye since I returned 24 hours ago.

First, an article from the New York Times on the CIA interrogations investigation (if the link doesn't work, go to the Times website, click on the Politics link, and look for the article entitled "CIA Abuse Cases Detailed in Report on Detainees"). The article lists the types of interrogation techniques uncovered in the investigation, including setting up fake execution scenes, scrubbing with grout brushes, threatening to kill a detainee's children, waterboarding, and threatening to sexually assault the detainee's female relatives. While the article also mentions that some of these techniques yielded information on terrorist activities in spite of their questionable legality, it's horrifying to know that "information at any cost" includes psychological brutality that probably equates to the physical brutality of the Spanish Inquisition. Whether or not that's an exaggeration, it's worth it to ask what it means that threatening sexual abuse of non-suspects is 1) potentially effective and 2) potentially legal. Also worth it is asking what happens if the detainee is "uncooperative." Does the threat get carried out? What's the point of a threat that one doesn't intend to pursue?

Also (back) in the news is Chris Brown's assault on his then-girlfriend, Rihanna, as he was sentenced about half an hour ago. There was a lot of media hoopla when he assaulted her earlier this year, but most of it asked questions about "was she provoking him?" and "but he only did it once; can't she go back to him?" While his sentence is reasonable- a five-year restraining order, five years' probation, and mandatory domestic abuse classes- our society desperately needs to reexamine its approach to domestic abuse. First, mandatory classes on abuse are rarely effective. No one wants to be there, and no one thinks they did anything wrong. Second, this assault happened in February; the delay in the sentencing is concerning beyond reason (although, to be honest, not unexpected). Third, assaults that result in the kinds of wounds Rihanna is described as having, including bite marks, usually result in jail time- something that Brown will be avoiding. Fourth, we need to start talking about how seriously we take victims and survivors of abuse. But that's a post for another day.

Finally, since I've been awake since 4 AM and am already fading, I bring you this article on the difficulties Afghanistan has been facing lately in getting women to the polls. Aside from the cultural bias of the article, which refers to the status of Afghan women as "advanced" since the US invasion in 2001, I find it hard to choke down the medicine from the US media about concerns that a low female turnout will lead to "token" female representations in the Afghan government (instead of the two running for President and the 333 running for provincial council positions). I'm not saying that it's bad or wrong to be concerned about Afghan women and their ability to mobilize themselves for their own rights; rather, I'm saying it's more than hypocritical that Afghanistan is being criticized by the US on this matter. Hillary Clinton made history in 2008 by running for President in the US, and found herself faced an unbelieveably gender-biased media and society telling her, effectively (and sometimes literally), to get back in the kitchen and stop being a bitch. Countries that the US considers to be backwards, primitive, and other negative terms have had female leaders and heads of state and have succeeded in taking steps to reduce their sex- and gender-based inequalities. Until we can say we've done the same, I think we need to quit preaching.

That's all for now, folks. I've got a bar of chocolate waiting for me and then a bed to sleep in.

1 comment:

  1. I pulled this off of Wikipedia just now:

    "In 2009, Brown pleaded guilty to felony assault for his involvement in an altercation with singer Rihanna, and was sentenced to five years probation and six months of community service."

    For his involvement in an altercation with her? As if it was the fact that he was having an argument with her that just caused it to happen? As if he didn't really have any control over it? But then again, don't we all occasionally just beat the crap out of someone by accident? Oh wait, no that doesn't just happen.