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Mar 24 2013

Speaking of terribly rude women…

Now Amina has disappeared.

The 19 year old Tunisian Amina who posted a topless photo of herself with the slogan “my body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour” has disappeared. Most likely her family have kidnapped her and taken her to an unknown location, (earlier reports mentioned a psychiatric hospital). What’s clear is that they have removed all forms of communication from her so that she can no longer be reached.

Let’s have a discussion now about how impolitely exposing one’s breasts is a disproportionate response to the dudebros. She should have just had a quiet discussion in private with her imam.

43 comments

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  1. 1
    Inaji

    Oh gods. My heart aches for her. My brain is busy screaming.

  2. 2
    A. R

    Well, the Muslim dudebros just can’t have their property getting all talkative and non-incubator/fuckhole like, now can they?

  3. 3
    mickwright

    What’s that? Receptacles talking back?

    Why, that’s blasphemy!

  4. 4
    Brandon

    That’s horrible. She’s a hero and I hope she survives the ordeal.

    Semi-related: An NSFW label might be a good idea.

  5. 5
    Delft

    Dreadful. It makes me very afraid for her life. Possibly worse, she may be forced into “marriage”.
    I think it highlights how courageous her action was.
    But I’m sure someone will be quick to point out that she was not respecting the Muslim faith, the Arab culture etc. And discuss whether she wasn’t overstepping a line there.

  6. 6
    Brandon

    she was not respecting the Muslim faith

    That’s a feature, not a bug.

  7. 7
    Gregory Greenwood

    This is enough to make your blood run cold – knowing how violently religious extremists of all faith groups react to any perceived slight to their ‘honour’, whether as individuals or as a notional community, it is a terrifying possibility that Amina may have forced into an unwanted (and almost certainly violently abusive) marriage, illegally imprisoned or even murdered as part of a so called ‘honour killing’ all for the ‘crime’ of asserting that her body is in fact her own, and not the property of her male relatives, patriarchal society or any imam.

    A lot of people will use this to justify facile, racist muslim bashing, but the worrying truth is that attitudes like this are not limited to muslim societies and cultures. Indeed, it is not even a product of religion. While toxic religiously fuelled misogyny certainly makes the attitude more obvious, the idea that women are the property of men and embody the notional ‘honour’ of their ‘owners’ exists everywhere.

    I just hope that this courageous and principled person survives this ordeal and regains her freedom.

  8. 8
    Kitterbethe

    Oh no.

    no.no.no.

  9. 9
    chigau (違う)

    Shit.
    Fuck.

  10. 10
    Gregory Greenwood

    Delft @ 5;

    But I’m sure someone will be quick to point out that she was not respecting the Muslim faith, the Arab culture etc. And discuss whether she wasn’t overstepping a line there.

    Given that there is some significant degree of overlap between dudebro misogynists and reactionary racists, one can’t help but wonder which will win out – their sexism and consequent desire to blame Amina for whatever happens to her, or their racism and thus their prediliction to look at something like this and use it as an excuse to condemn the abuse of women in the muslim world as ‘islamic barbarism’ while ignoring or excusing similar attitudes elsewhere in the world.

    All too often, I have encountered the mentality that misogyny in the muslim world is ‘proof’ of the supposedly ‘barbarous’ and ‘inhuman’ character of muslims, whereas misogyny in the the west is no big deal or a fabrication of lying ‘feminazis’ hell bent on emasculating all men.

    Then there is the possibility that we will get a ‘dear muslima’ advocate or two, who will point to this terrible event and declare it the true standard of ‘legitimate’ misogyny, and then try to use it as a means to silence women who encounter less extreme misogyny by dismissing such sexism as an irrelvant ‘first world problem’.

    Sadly, it is quite likely we will encounter all of the above on this thread.

  11. 11
    eidolon

    Greg@ 10..
    What ever else is going on in the world, ignored or not does not change the reality of what happened here. It in no way lessens the barbarous nature of honor killings, forced marriage and more that are often part and parcel of life for women in many Muslim countries.

  12. 12
    Argle Bargle

    Damn damn damn damn damn!

  13. 13
    DLC

    How horrible. I’m sorry. not much else I can say. I hope she is still alive and unharmed but I fear the worst may have happened. Who was it who said “Religion Poisons Everything” ? They were right.

  14. 14
    DLC

    Oh, and let me hasten to add : “Patriarchy Poisons Everything” too.

  15. 15
    dianne

    Let’s have a discussion now about how impolitely exposing one’s breasts is a disproportionate response to the dudebros. She should have just had a quiet discussion in private with her imam.

    Surely you can’t be comparing our righteous Christian and secular dudebros to evil Muslims! It’s a totally different thing because…um…because they’re evil Muslims and all that.

    As much as I’d like to blame religion for this, recent events in the secular community prevent me from doing so. The people who threatened Richards with rape and murder and succeeded in getting her worthless boss to fire her weren’t religious fanatics. They were just privileged assholes who didn’t like someone standing up to them. The people who kidnapped Amina are almost certainly the same. It’d be nice to believe that ridding the world of religion would stop acts like this, but when the atheist community goes apeshit over someone saying, “Guys, don’t do that”, I don’t have much hope.

  16. 16
    Gregory Greenwood

    eidolon @ 11;

    What ever else is going on in the world, ignored or not does not change the reality of what happened here. It in no way lessens the barbarous nature of honor killings, forced marriage and more that are often part and parcel of life for women in many Muslim countries.

    It was not my intention to suggest that it did lessen the reality of what has happened to Amina, or the horrors of misogyny in the muslim world. I was observing that all too often people who don’t want to deal with the fact that sexism and mistreatment of women is a global problem try to paint ‘true’ misogyny as an exclusively islamic issue, often by using instances of particularly terrible violence against women such as ‘honour killings’ as justification. That women in situations such as that of Amina are so hideously abused and even murdered is terrible enough – it doesn’t help that their suffering is then so often cynically exploited in pursuit both of racism toward all muslims and the minimisation of broader misogyny as a worldwide problem that afflicts every culture and society.

    I wasn’t trying to downplay the suffering of women in the muslim world, or the severity of this particular case. I apologise for any offence I have caused.

  17. 17
    David Marjanović

    …I do hope she was kidnapped and put into a psychiatric hospital, as opposed to kidnapped and killed.

  18. 18
    anuran

    People will jump down my throat on this one, but what the hell.

    I understand why her parents did what they did. Their daughter is in real danger of long term imprisonment or being killed. If she’s committed to a mental hospital with a bogus history of suicidal ideation she’s safer. “She’s a good girl. She’s just depressed and crazy” can keep the mob at bay until things blow over.

    They’re not being courageous. They’re not supporting her principles. They’re just scared parents who don’t want their little girl to be killed.

  19. 19
    Brandon

    I think I’m with you on that anuran. I don’t really know what to make of their actions, but I’ll say that I find it morally ambiguous, assuming your assessment of their motives is correct. I understand it, if nothing else.

  20. 20
    Gregory Greenwood

    anuran @ 18;

    People will jump down my throat on this one, but what the hell.

    I understand why her parents did what they did. Their daughter is in real danger of long term imprisonment or being killed. If she’s committed to a mental hospital with a bogus history of suicidal ideation she’s safer. “She’s a good girl. She’s just depressed and crazy” can keep the mob at bay until things blow over.

    They’re not being courageous. They’re not supporting her principles. They’re just scared parents who don’t want their little girl to be killed.

    That is a possible scenario, but it is unfortunately equally possible that she has been kidnapped and placed into a psychiatric hospital for far more ignoble reasons to do with concepts of the defence of family ‘honour’. The sad fact is that, just because it was her family that took the action, we cannot assume it was undertaken with the intent to protect her. All too often, the victims of abuse (both within muslim communities and elsewhere) are victimised first and foremost by members of their own families. Society finds all abuse difficult to deal with and has shown time and again that it would rather simply brush it under the carpet and ignore it, but violence within the family has long been a topic subject to particularly strong taboos against its public discussion, thus making it all the more difficult for victims to get help or even be believed.

  21. 21
    anuran

    Gregory, what grounds do you have to believe this other than “They’re Moozlums. Moozlums all cut of little girls’ clits and kill them of they so much as look at a boy. They raise all their kids to be suicide bomb martyrs. They just ain’t human”?

  22. 22
    Ichthyic

    They’re just scared parents who don’t want their little girl to be killed.

    This is just completely pulled out of your ass. I know you want to think the best of them, but frankly, the only comment ANY of her relatives made publicly was this one by her aunt:

    Someone identifying herself as Amina’s aunt denounced Amina’s actions on Youtube saying: “I hope she pays for her actions. She does not represent her country or Tunisian women.”

    that’s from the very first article on the subject.

    so, no, wishful thinking won’t make this go away, and it’s just as likely the immediate family brought her to harm as helped her. This would not at all be inconsistent with previous similar cases.

  23. 23
    left0ver1under

    I was going to say the word “helpless” to describe how I feel about this, but that’s wrong. Useless is a better word.

    Amina is the one who is helpless, stuck in a country full of religious thugs. I doubt we’ll hear from her again – extremists of all stripes are equally big on “re-education” whether muslims, the Khmer Rouge or any other.

  24. 24
    Ingdigo Jump

    @anuran

    yeah I’m seconding that amazing bullshit jumping to conclusions. If you have some special insight on motives please share if not please note we’re unlikely to believe your claims of telepathy.

  25. 25
    rorschach

    German magazine “Spiegel” reports that her parents found out about her Femen membership and the photos and had her committed to a psychiatric hospital.

  26. 26
    Ichthyic

    link not working for me, Rorschach.

    links back to pharyngula?

  27. 27
    LykeX

    Corrected Spiegel link.

  28. 28
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Why I usually avoid commenting on threads like this.

    First, yet an other reminder about how useless I am for most people. There is almost nothing I can do to free Amina. What I say will not make life better for her.

    Like most of the regulars here, I can see any justification for the actions against.

    All I am doing is being a faceless person typing up a protest.

  29. 29
    unclefrogy

    I am not going to say much about what she did other than it was a deliberate inflammatory act. That she felt that way is the great problem. She needed to make that kind of statement when she knew what the intensity of the reaction would be speaks volumes of the state of women in that part of the world. I hope she is “safe” where ever she is but it is worrying.
    It also is a sign of how things can change and what the pressure for change is becoming.
    uncle frogy

  30. 30
    opposablethumbs

    I wonder if there is anyone in Tunisia who has a chance of finding out where she is being held, and helping her. If her own family is against her, that must be extremely difficult. She’s still a minor in Tunisia (age of majority = 20), which makes it harder still. Fucking patriarchy. Fuck.

  31. 31
    Gregory Greenwood

    anuran @ 21;

    Gregory, what grounds do you have to believe this other than “They’re Moozlums. Moozlums all cut of little girls’ clits and kill them of they so much as look at a boy. They raise all their kids to be suicide bomb martyrs. They just ain’t human”?

    That is a somewhat curious way to characterise my remarks. All I said was that we cannot assume that the fact that it was the family took action here automatically means that they did it to protect Amina. I then made a point about the fact that one of the most widespread and difficult to address forms of abuse in all societies is familial abuse. At no point did I suggest that the religion of the family in question was the dominant factor here or in and of itself made such abuse more or less likely. ‘Honour killings’, along with the myriad other forms of abuse perpretrated against women who break societal norms of obedience and submissiveness, are not in any way uniquely muslim phenomena, afterall.

    The only comment that appears to be from the family is that of someone claiming to be an aunt who, acording to the second link in the OP, expressed the sentiment that;

    I hope she pays for her actions. She does not represent her country or Tunisian women.

    We cannot be sure of the intent of the family in this case, and I understand that you want to believe that their actions were undertaken for good reasons. All I am pointing out is that we simply cannot make such assumptions, and falling back on a presumption of good faith on the part of the family of a potential victim of abuse can be problematic because this is the exact attitude that can make it difficult for abuse victims to get help or to be believed.

  32. 32
    rorschach

    First, yet an other reminder about how useless I am for most people. There is almost nothing I can do to free Amina. What I say will not make life better for her.

    I feel the same. Its frustrating, enraging, and is the feeling that gives way to the “Nuke it from orbit” notion way too often. I read this stuff and just crawl up in my bed, because there is just fuckall nothing anyone can do, not unless and until pressure can be applied to the creeps having her locked up in the first place. And that includes her family.

  33. 33
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    There aren’t enough swears in the world to communicate how I feel about this.

  34. 34
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @Gregory Greenwood

    All I am pointing out is that we simply cannot make such assumptions, and falling back on a presumption of good faith on the part of the family…

    In fairness to Anuran, while xe is presuming good intent on the part of the family, everyone else is assuming bad intent. Considering we don’t know where Amina is, or who put her there, or why, both are equally baseless assumptions. Well, perhaps not equally baseless given the documented history of violent responses to this kind of thing in Islamic countries, but never the less they are both assumptions.

    Side note for PZ: That link to Maryam’s page could seriously do with a NSFW tag. There are numerous pictures of breasts which I really shouldn’t be looking at in the office.

  35. 35
    Gregory Greenwood

    thumper1990 @ 34;

    In fairness to Anuran, while xe is presuming good intent on the part of the family, everyone else is assuming bad intent. Considering we don’t know where Amina is, or who put her there, or why, both are equally baseless assumptions. Well, perhaps not equally baseless given the documented history of violent responses to this kind of thing in Islamic countries, but never the less they are both assumptions.

    That is the point that I was trying to make back @ 20 in response to anuran’s post @ 18 – we cannot know the intent of the family, and so both scenarios are possible. Anuran seemed to misinterpret my meaning, at least that is what I took from hir post @ 21 where xe seemd to be under the impression that my position was the product of xenophobia. My post @ 31 was my attempt to clarify my meaning.

  36. 36
    Jeff

    She is incredibly courageous. This really is sickening to hear about. Hopefully the international attention this has attracted will result in her release. I really hope she ends up safe and unharmed.

  37. 37
    Irmin

    So, I’m not sure how trustworthy this source is (it doesn’t seem to be too shabby), but according to this website, the situation is perhaps not as bad as it was reported:

    http://www.tunisia-live.net/2013/03/25/amina-safe-at-home-says-lawyer/

    On the other hand, “safe at home” can mean one of many things…

  38. 38
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    They’re just scared parents who don’t want their little girl to be killed.

    OR they just want her to stop embarrassing them, and putting her in a mental hospital is an easy way to get rid of her without killing her or having to deal with her.
    Speculations, both yours and mine.

  39. 39
    Old At Heart

    Amazing. 38 messages and only one defends the action through wishful thinking, and when presented with evidence otherwise, retracts their positive outlook. I was about to question if this was really Pharyngula until I noticed commenters fake-quoting each other to insult their intelligence and slinging insults around. It’s the little things that are important.

    So to answer GG @10: Clearly, racism wins! Is vitriol and -isms limited in quantity? …Maybe we can use this…

    [facetious] Wouldn’t it be a great world if we could eliminate sexism through racism? All whites are equal, all muslims are equal, but less than whites, all blacks are equal at zero, ah, what a wonderful world it would be. Clearly, we all need to be just a little more racist and a little less sexist.[/facetious]

  40. 40
    Matrim

    Is it white-knighting if I want to organize a rescue? I’ve honestly considered the feasibility of organizing a sort of Underground Railroad to get abused people out of their abusive environments and delivering them into asylum in more tolerant nations. They do it with North Korea, I don’t see why we couldn’t do it with abuse victims. Of course, there are international legal issues to concider, and it could be dangerous, but it might be something to look at.

  41. 41
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Finding someone who could contact Amina’s family and negotiate for her protection (whatever that means) would be good. I’m sure her family doesn’t want to be attacked but what they want for her is unclear.

    Safe at home? Then let her talk to her friends and associates.

  42. 42
    David Marjanović

    Considering we don’t know where Amina is, or who put her there, or why

    Well, “know”… the article rorschach linked to says: “Evidently, according to several media reports, she was committed to a psychiatric hospital by her parents after they had learned of the naked protest photos.”

  43. 43
    agiftedhamster

    The word “disappeared” always frightens me; I guess it reminds me of the atrocities against Argentinian dissidents twenty years ago.

    But what distresses me more, nowadays, is the institutional suppression of women.

    As a university professor in the mathematical sciences, I have seen the proportion of women undergraduates increase over the years. As an aging heterosexual male, I find glorious this evidence of growing female power.

    I like women. I like their shape; I like their intelligence; I like sex with them; I like their spirit. (Don’t misinterpret the plural there: I have been committed to one shapely intelligent woman for more than thirty years.)

    Then I read of crimes against women, simply because they are assertive or adventurous. And I despair.

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