I guess I must just be on a tear with Pakistani treatment of women and children. Lest we think the Taliban is the only problem facing Pakistani women, or the sole factor in the mindset that women are mere chattel, we need only consider the case of Shafilea Ahmed. This honor killing, which occurred in 2003 and is finally facing justice, took place in England. About a week ago, her parents were finally convicted of Shafilea's grisly murder, on the basis of her younger sister's testimony against her parents. Her parents had been living in the UK for more than a decade by the time they killed their 17 year old daughter for being too Westernized.
Shafilea Ahmed's teachers deserve kudos for trying, albeit unsuccessfully, to help this child. Just like recent killings in Canada however, the child welfare system seems to find it difficult to safeguard young women in these difficult situations. You can watch the CNN video report on the welfare failure here:
And meanwhile, I encourage anyone who wants to spend a bit more of their time *headdesk*-ing to check out the comments on the Pakistan Express Tribune's Facebook posting of their article on Rifta Masih, the poor 11 year old Down's syndrome child who is charged with blasphemy (punishable by death) for burning pages of the Koran. As it turns out, her mother was with her when she was jailed. But of course, the rest of the family had run off and abandoned the mother who stood by her child. The police now deny the mother and child were "tortured." Since a later Pakistan Express Tribune article opens with the statement that the child was severely beaten, I'm wondering exactly what the police mean by "not tortured." A later article still says that Islamabad police have registered a case against the Muslim cleric in Rifta's village for encouraging a village mob to set the child on fire. Reportedly, the police intervened before that could occur.
An 11 year old Christian girl, Rifta Masih, has been arrested in Mehrabadi, Pakistan for blasphemy. The child blasphemer, who has Down's Syndrome, was reportedly severely beaten by a crowd of people, and may face the death penalty for burning pages of the Koran along with the fact that other pages she carried with her were housed in a bag of waste, which she was trying to put into a waste bin. She should, in spite of her disability, evidently known better. Or her God should have kept her safer or perhaps have given her better judgment or something.
Yes, this is what passes for blasphemy in Pakistan, a place in which reasonable people, like Salman Taseer and Shabaz Bhatti, gave their lives trying to drum sense into the public's mind. So a disabled child may die, because with her lack of intellectual capacity and understanding, she insulted the holy book of Islam. This is justice?
I had planned to make some snarky remarks about a$$holes like Todd Akin and their form of profanity against reason, but frankly, I'm really just too absorbed in thinking of what will happen to this poor 11 year old child, who probably just wants her mother, and who will be subject to who knows what horrors. Did she even get medical care after being beaten? It's too horrifying to contemplate. As the BBC's World Service says, few people at this point, after the deaths of Taseer and Bhatti, will stand up to the extremist mob, even if it means a child must die for doing something when she didn't have cognizance of giving offense. Another Bhatti, Dr. Paul Bhatti, Minister of Harmony *cough* (no idea if he's a brave relation to assassinated Minority Minister Shahbaz Bhatti) is evidently trying to get her an attorney.
Some days, I just lose all hope for reason in this world.
Many of my friends know that I'm a die-hard architecture fan. (No, really. Consider the fact that I've dragged my husband to Bear Run, PA in late winter, driving through a hailstorm no less, just to see Fallingwateron a private tour, people. Then there's the trekking all over California for Wright and Greene & Greene houses or buildings... Or how about the architecture tour of NYC, of my own making from the AIA guidebook, the Marzie walks your feet off tour? When I say I like architecture, I ain't kidding. Trip to Barcelona? Forget seeing Barça play. Give me some Gaudí. World Cup in Brazil in 2014? A chance to see Oscar Niemeyer's work live.) Anyway, as a fan of architecture, I've been fascinated by the work of Maya Lin for decades, ever since she won the Vietnam Veterans Memorial competition while still an architecture student at Yale. I was utterly fascinated by her. Both because of how well she forged ahead, in spite of all the controversy, and because she was so close in age to me and I couldn't fathom how someone my age could be so poised on a national and international platform. And, of course, I thought her designs were so impressive, so well thought out, so thoughtful of what they were to represent. From the simplicity of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC to the elegant concept of The Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery to the impressive African Art Museum (I love African art, too, btw) in New York, I've followed her work with great enthusiasm.
At present, Maya Lin is working on what she calls her last memorial. It is the ultimate conceptual art project. It is a memorial to planet Earth. I cannot say enough about it, or thank the Cornell Ornithology Lab enough for alerting me to its very existence. I could spend hours on this website. In fact, I have. (Ironically, the very first dot I clicked on was Giant RiverOtters...)
The installation of What Is Missing is touring in its ever diminishing world. While not everyone will get to see it in person, you can participate on the web at WhatisMissing.net.What do you miss in the natural world in the last thirty years? Frogs croaking at night? Fireflies that look like stars come to earth in the summertime? Bachelor's Buttons in your garden? Naturally ripe and flavorful tomatoes? Rivers frozen in winter? Meadowlarks, Buntings or Robins making it as far south as you are? Tell Maya Lin your story.
And those of you who say, oh, it will be so depressing, please, by all mean, go to What You Can Do.