Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Murder In the Name of God

Each day atrocities are committed supposedly in the name of God.  They are terrifying and rather than revealing a devotion to the divine, they show the darkness that is capable in the human spirit. 13 year old Noutene Sidime, died at the hands of her 71 year old father on Saturday night for failing to pray.


Her father, Moussa Sidime, had called 911 last Wednesday. Sidime was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, but the charges could be upgraded, police said. 

The father will remain behind bars until autopsy results are released, at which time the Crown will decide whether Sidime played a role in his daughter’s death. 

Neighbours said Noutene was a polite girl who was often unable to please her elderly father.
Others who live in the apartment building south of Montreal said the girl sometimes neglected to say daily prayers, which infuriated him.



“(He) was mean,” said Karine Girard, who lives on the street. “I’ve seen him grab her by the arm because she wouldn’t go up to say her prayers.” (source)
Time  and time again, women have become the victims of a patriarchal vision of what it means to be submissive to God and man.  In instances like this, we have a tendency to claim that it is the religion that is backward.  Religion is what we see as the site of evil, when in fact the true source of the violence is patriarchy, and a complete lack of concern for the lives of girls and women.  Though the family believes that her death was "an accident", if neighbors knew this man had physically restrained this girl in the past, then I find it hard to believe that her family did not know of her father's behaviour.  An entire community let this girl down because of a fear of getting involved and a belief in the right of others to practice religion.

I understand why the freedom of religion is an important right but cannot ignore that it is being abused and women are paying the price.  In Bountiful B.C. there is a commune where young girls are often frequented back and forth between the U.S. and Canada.  This is a Mormon polygamist compound and we support this with our tax dollars because of freedom of religion.  I fail to see how the wholesale abuse of women and girls as well as the abandonment of young boys can be justified by religion when it is clear that a small group of men benefit by the way their society is organized.

When honour killings happen we engage in rampant Islamophobia.  I have yet to read an intelligent defense of this position.  For these bigots, the issue isn't really religious based violence against women and children, but an opportunity to engage in bigotry.  Even when Muslims emphatically deny that the murder and or oppression of girls and women is not a part of their religion it is ignored to justify the continued western discourse of othering those of the Muslim faith.

Violence against women and girls does not begin with God, nor does it begin with religion. The origin of this violence is an international patriarchal  determination to ensure the hegemony of men in every instance.  No matter how many times statistics prove that violence against women is perpetrated by men, we still look for answers outside of the patriarchal model because it absolves men of their culpability in our deaths.  Every time we ignore things like verbal harassment of women in the streets, minimize rape, or ignore the achievements of women, we are emboldening the actions of these abusers. Noutene Sidime didn't die because of a failure to pray but because we live in a culture that teaches men that they have the right to beat and abuse women at will.