American Values, At Home & Abroad
It’s almost amusing that Arkansas, in an effort to raise the legal marriage age but allow pregnant teenagers to marry with parental permission, ended up making it legal for kids of any age to marry with their parents legal consent.
A law enacted this year allows Arkansans of any age ? even infants ? to marry if their parents give approval, and the governor may call a special session of the legislature to fix the mistake, lawmakers said. The legislation was intended to establish 18 as the minimum age to marry but also allow younger pregnant teenagers to marry with parental consent, said Representative Will Bond, a Democrat, who sponsored the bill. The bill contains an extraneous ?not?: ?In order for a person who is younger than 18 years of age and who is not pregnant to obtain a marriage license, the person must provide the county clerk with evidence of parental consent to the marriage.?
So, until there’s a special legislative session, even infants can be married to each other in Arkansas if their parents are crazy enough to sign the legal papers. But, as Dana points out, same-sex couples — even infant couples — are still prevented from marrying. None of this should come as a surprise, though, given that even while America contorts itself to prevent same-sex adults from marrying, we’re subsidizing forced child marriages around the globe.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid goes to countries where girls as young as 12 are forced to marry, a rights abuse that is the focus of legislation to be introduced in Congress this month.
In 2006, $623 million in U.S. funds went to 16 of 20 countries with the highest child-marriage rates, including Bangladesh, Mali and Mozambique, according to the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), a Washington non-profit group that works with governments on development and women’s issues.
The new legislation would authorize $100 million over four years to try to stop the practice, most prevalent in West Africa and South Asia.
Bills by Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., and Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., also would require the State Department to include child-marriage statistics in annual human rights reports on other countries.
“Every year in poor countries, millions of girls ? preteens and teens ? become the wives of older men,” McCollum says. “This custom is not marriage, but rather sanctioned sexual abuse and a human rights violation that destroys girls’ lives.”
Hey, at least they’re heterosexual child marriages. Right? So, these countries are kinda “pro-marriage.” Right?
Add to that the likelihood that we’re also funding “abstinence-only” education and anti-condom propaganda, and you get some idea of kind of misery our tax-dollars are paying for. And that’s not counting the burgeoning sex industry that’s sprung up in Iraq, now that our occupation has opened up the market. That industry is still going strong, that to U.S. intervention.
When Rana Jalil, 38, lost her husband in an explosion in Baghdad last year, she could never have imagined becoming a prostitute in order to feed her children.
A mother of four, Jalil sought out employment, but job opportunities for women had decreased since the US invasion.
She begged shop owners, office workers and companies to hire her but was treated with what she calls chauvinistic discrimination.
Within weeks of her husband’s death, a doctor diagnosed her children with malnutrition.
Fighting tears, she recalled the desperation which led her to the oldest profession: “In the beginning these were the worst days in my life. My husband was the first man I met and slept with, but I didn’t have another option ? my children were starving.”
She left the house in a daze, she recalled, and walked to the nearest market to find someone who would pay her for sex.
She said: “I’m a nice-looking woman and it wasn’t difficult to find a client. When we got to the bed I tried to run away ? I just couldn’t do it, but he hit and raped me. When he paid me afterwards, it was finished for me.
“When I came home with some food I had bought from that money and saw my children screaming of happiness, I discovered that honour is insignificant compared to the hunger of my children.”
There’s a positive side to this too. Not only has this woman successfully reorganized her priorities, but she’s working. Just like a lot more Iraqi women and children. In fact, it’s such a fast growing market that entrepreneurial Iraqis are branching into Syria’s sex trade, now that our efforts have given them to freedom to pursue happiness. Our efforts made it possible for her and many more Iraqis to continue supporting their families. Right?
Two gay Iraqi men have survived kidnapping and beating by the violently homophobic Mahdi Army.
The army is loyal to firebrand fundamentalist Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, who is fighting to establish an Islamist dictatorship in Iraq.
Two months after their ordeal, traumatised Ahmed, 23, and Zaid, 24, both students in Baghdad University, have come forward to tell how they were lured into a trap by members of the Mahdi Army.
The Madhi Army has been involved in the torture and execution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Iraqis and many other Iraqis, especially women, who do not conform to its harsh interpretation of Islam.
Ahmed’s and Zaid’s story reveals how Muqtada al-Sadr’s men have adopted a new tactic, borrowed from the Iranian secret police.
They are posing as gays in online chat rooms, in order to lure gay men, arrange dates and kill them.
That sounds vaguely like the last hate crime I wrote up on Wikipedia…
But never mind. American values are marching across the globe, and someday the rest of the world will thank us for it.