Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Redefining Honor

Is the Middle East changing? Is the Arab Spring about democracy, transparency, and individual rights, or just about the price of bread? This amazing Washington Post story of true chivalry suggests that something deep is afoot.
A group of men have committed themselves to an unlikely way of challenging the violence that has swept Syria in recent months, pledging to marry women they have never met.

One [horror story] involves four sisters, from the nearby town of Sumeriya, who were allegedly raped by pro-government Shabiha militiamen. "It made us so mad. Such an injustice. We have decided, we will marry them," said Ibrahim Kayyis, a 32-year-old baker from Jisr al-Shugour, a town that was stormed by troops.

To reclaim their “honor,” families in Syria have been known to kill raped female members. Even if families allow such women to live, they are not eligible to marry.

"We sat and discussed that we want to change this. We don’t want to change just the regime in Syria, but also this kind of stuff. So we will marry them in front of everyone," Kayyis said... Mohammed Mourey, a pharmacist from Jisr al-Shugour who has set up shop in a concrete shack in Khirbet al-Jous, initially proposed marrying the women. "They are victims of the revolution, and we will protect them," he said. Mourey said that when he first thought of the idea, 15 men came forward to volunteer.
This is a small act, on behalf of a single family, but it is the type of meme - like the frustrated vegetable seller - that could go viral in Arabic culture, and change the attitude towards rape and women's honor for the entire generation.


Carol L. Douglas said...

I guess it's the best one can expect under the circumstances, but true chivalry would allow women the right to self-determination, rather than salvaging their 'honor' through marriage.

Chops said...

Chivalry is a sacrifice on behalf of others in need, and it's a response to living in barbarous times. It's great when a society meets everyone's needs, but it obviates the role of chivalry.