The Innocence Of Pretty Women
At any given time, Western media and activists are exercised about the fate of one or another woman in the Muslim world under sentence of death for – they tell us – adultery. Quelle horreur.
What they do not always tell us, or tell us only in the small print, or tell us but then hand-wave away, is that these women are actually under sentence of death for murdering their husbands, the adultery being more the motive for the killing than independent grounds for execution. Crime of passion, as we say in the West, the mainstay of Agatha Christie stories.
On the other hand, we often see severe jurisprudential problems with the murder conviction as such. The usual problems of forensics and evidence that may afflict indictments everywhere, of course, plus our suspicion that female accused do not get as fair a deal as male. When, for example, the wife is the accomplice of her lover in the actual murder, what sentence does he draw? A greater, or a lesser? Sometimes the courts seem far more vengeful against an adulterous woman than a homicidal man, so much so that, yes, it does look as if she is to hang just for having outlaw sex.
On the gripping hand, it equally well looks as if the Western activists are championing a woman’s freedom to kill her husband in order more easily to sleep with another man. Sometimes they have made this explicit, at any rate in case of “abuse”, which slippery term can stretch to much more than wife-beating and a killing to make it stop. Every woman can on demand make a case that she is “abused” by her husband, and being on Death Row certainly counts as a demand. Those who consider that all Muslim marriage is abusive by definition are thus implicitly committed to an absolute freedom to murder one’s husband. We may thus sympathise with the spokesman of the Foreign Ministry who called on countries criticising Iran to release all their murderers as well. Except that he may not have realised how many of our self-appointed judges actually do consider that all sanctions on an individual possessing an “innie” are illegitimate, whatever she may have done.
In most cases if not all, the accused wife is good-looking. As I have mentioned in connection with the bystander shot on the street during Iran’s failed “Green Revolution”, Neda Agha-Soltan, you don’t become a poster child for anything at all if you are physically unattractive. Whether it is the women who respond to the death-sentenced Muslim women on the basis of some half-conscious assumption that wives should be allowed to murder inconvenient husbands, while the men are climbing onto their protest bandwagon if the victim is pretty enough, would be an interesting and purely empirical question.
Done in Bergen
(Fiddle date-stamp to April 8, 2011)
In: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, The Life Beautiful