That the victims are principally “untouchables” does not surprise me. What does surprise me is that higher-caste men take the caste difference as license to engage in these acts and expect impunity. It would appear that police indifference is a big problem.
The first news account I found yesterday made the point that, under Pakistani law, a murderer will escape prosecution if the victim’s family “forgives” him or her. Thus the remaining family members will probably “forgive” the perpetrators of this stoning; but in many cases, where family members want such a murder to occur, they will contract with an outsider to do the deed, whom they then “forgive.”
The Stealthy Freedoms of Iranian Women Facebook page invited women to share photos of themselves with uncovered heads, celebrating non-traditional dress in Iran’s hottest summer months. As of its creation last month, 450,000-plus Facebook users have liked the page, and thousands of women have submitted their photos to journalist and founder Masih Alinejad.
Alinejad, a London-based journalist affiliated with Voice of America’s “On Ten” program, said she expected a backlash from those who oppose Iranian women’s freedom to dress as they choose — but she didn’t expect the story that aired on Iranian state television.
The television report claimed three men raped Masih in a London subway station after she took drugs and undressed herself in public. The report also claims her 17-year-old son was a witness to the rape. Alinejad vehemently denies these allegations, saying they are “imagination.”
The balance of the article makes clear that Alinejad is engaged in activities I have to believe most Iranians would find highly provocative. Were I in authority at Voice of America, I would have serious reservations about her affiliation. That said, for Iranian state television to have aired this segment says a lot about what they see as being at stake here, and about who they believe can be persuaded of what.