In conservative Muslim societies like Jordan, rapists can walk free thanks to penal code Article 308, known as the "rape-law".
In April, the unidentified girl was shopping in the northern city of Zarqa when a 19-year-old man kidnapped her, took her to the desert where he had a pitched a tent and raped her for three consecutive days, judicial sources said.
Police found the girl during a routine patrol, drove her back to her family home and arrested the man.
Within days news emerged that the boy had agreed to marry the girl, while all charges against him have been dropped.
Earlier this month, another girl, aged 15, was talked into following a young man to an empty apartment in Amman where she was also raped.
Judicial sources say the young man is now desperately trying to work out an arrangement with her family to marry her, to avoid going to jail.
Article 308 allows rape charges to be dropped if the perpetrator agrees to marry the victim. He cannot divorce the woman for five years.
"This article of the law not only helps perpetrators walk free, it rewards them by allowing them to marry their victims, who get punished ... for God knows what," Nadia Shamrukh, head of the Jordanian Women's Union, said.
Article 308 does have its supporters, though:
Israa Tawalbeh, the country's first woman coroner, sees "nothing wrong in Article 308 as such"....
"Accepting marriage under Article 308 is better than leaving girls to be killed by their parents or relatives," she said.
Well yes, there is that.
From the stranger backwaters of Country music, as featured in The Old American Barn Dance, 1953. Apologies for the hammy intro:
Inspired by their family and the sounds of the animals and birds around them, they developed an astonishing repertoire of high, haunting yodels and yips that soon had them winning talent contests all over central Minnesota.
An excellent compilation of women singers in early Country music, Flowers in the Wildwood, features a couple of tracks from the DeZuricks, plus songs from the likes of the Coon Creek Girls, Samantha Bumgarner, Moonshine Kate, and the inimitable Fred and Gertrude Gossett ("All the Good Times are Past and Gone"). Irresistible.
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in the early years of the 20th century as a reaction to the overwhelming superiority of the West, in the belief that only a return to true Islamic values would enable a revival of Muslim power. An effective strategy in opposition, perhaps, but no way to run a country. Here's Lee Smith (via):
Let’s put aside for a moment the question of how a Muslim Brotherhood presidency might affect Egyptian women, or the Coptic Christian minority, or press freedom—matters that, in fairness, did not much concern Mubarak either. What we know about Egypt’s Islamist movement is that it has been forged on the anvil of conflict, not just in its contention with the West (from Napoleon’s conquest through the British occupation to the founding of Israel), but also in its struggle against Egyptian society.
The Brotherhood, as the culmination of the Muslim reform movement, is the embodied critique of modern Muslim communities. The lands of Islam were inferior to the West because of how Muslims practiced Islam. The problem then is not that this well-oiled political machine has never actually governed a country or managed an economy, or that its practical political theory is derived from a 7th-century desert utopia ruled by the prophet of Islam. The real issue is that the Brotherhood perceives itself as a corrective—not simply to the Mubarak regime, but to the way ordinary Egyptians have conducted their affairs for the last half millennium or so. This is the Brotherhood’s ideological core, which may well spell disaster not only for the rights of women and minorities, but also for millions of other Egyptians.
Morsi has said that he is the president for all Egyptians. The question is how, particularly in the middle of an international economic meltdown, he can reconcile more than 80 million Egyptians to the Brotherhood’s rule. What has made the organization attractive for all these years is not its vision, its policies, whatever those turn out to be, but rather resistance, negation, a dynamism built on the foundations of conflict. Morsi will likely have little choice in the matter: To manage an Egypt perpetually on the verge of chaos, he will have to project internal conflict outward. In due time, Egypt will make war either on itself, or on Israel.
Finally, the fatwa video game:
[T]he author of The Satanic Verses is the subject of an Iranian computer game aimed at spreading to the next generation the message about his "sin".
The Stressful Life of Salman Rushdie and Implementation of his Verdict is the title of the game being developed by the Islamic Association of Students, a government-sponsored organisation which announced this week it had completed initial phases of production.
News of the computer game came as Tehran on Tuesday played host to the country's second International Computer Games Expo. "The organisers considered the event as an opportunity to introduce Iranian culture, value and Islamic identity, and also a way to present Iranian products to international computer games designers and producers," the English-language state television channel, Press TV, reported on its website....
The director of the students association, Ahmad Khalili, told the Fars news agency that production of the game was under way despite technical difficulties. "We usually don't have any problems with initial thoughts and ideas [for a computer games] but when it comes to the actual point of production we experience delays," he said.
Little has been revealed about the game but its title suggests players will be asked to implement Khomeini's call for the killing of Rushdie.
There's plenty of good news from Iraq - so, of course, we don't generally hear about it. Amir Taheri, in the latest Standpoint, writes about the country's economic and political revival:
Leaving aside a few old hands, most Iraqi politicians are in their thirties and forties, which means they have spent their formative years in the new Iraq, learning the rules of democracy. Conversations with dozens of them over the years indicate that almost all are determined to make democracy work in Iraq. This new generation is at the heart of a consensus that governments should be formed and changed only through elections and parliamentary methods set down by the constitution.
Iraq is at present the only Arab country where such a consensus exists. That consensus in turn may have made Iraq the only Arab country with a decent prospect of stability. This was part of the reason Iraq hosted the latest Arab summit in March. It was the only Arab state considered to be peaceful enough to ensure the security of such a summit....
In Baghdad the coalition government led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki may collapse at any moment with the defection of half a dozen members of parliament to the opposition. A new general election could also change the political configuration throughout Iraq. It is so far the only Arab country to have held three free general elections and have experienced three changes of government through changes in parliamentary majorities.
Elsewhere in the Arab world, however, people still think of revolution, coups, armed struggle and dynastic change as the only ways of changing governments. The future of countries that have experienced the Arab Spring revolts is too difficult to predict at this point. They may, as we all hope, seize the opportunity to move towards democratisation. However, they may also relapse into despotism either in the name of Islam or that of law and order. Thus Iraq remains the best hope for democratisation in the Middle East.
For many of those who opposed the toppling of Saddam Hussein this is hard to accept....
The North Korean authorities have reportedly handed out medals and awards to the parents, teachers and heads of local youth organizations of a student who supposedly lost her life trying to save portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il from floodwaters.
Rodong Shinmun revealed the story on the 26th, saying that on June 11th a 14-year old girl, Han Hyun Kyung, had to escape her home in a gorge in Shinheung County, South Hamkyung Province after it was flooded during heavy rains. Despite the danger, the piece claimed that she managed to rescue portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and pass them to her mother before passing away.
The piece then noted, “A total of seven people have been rewarded upon the orders of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly; the student’s teacher, mother and school principal, father and school vice principle, local Youth League leader and middle school Chosun Children’s Union leader.” It also gave the types and levels of the medals and awards conferred on the recipients....
This is not the first time that such a story has been reported. A story about a fallen soldier who died saving a soccer ball given by Kim Jong Il from river rapids is another popular example. However, in that case a posthumous title was given to the deceased soldier only, not to his commanding officers or family.