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"So does God hate women?" it asks. 

Well, what can one say. Religious authorities and conservative clerics worship a wretchedly cruel unjust vindictive executioner of a God. They worship a God of 10-year-old boys, a God of playground bullies, a God of rapists, of gangs, of pimps. They worship — despite rhetoric about justice and compassion — a God who sides with the strong against the weak, a God who cheers for privilege and punishes egalitarianism. They worship a God who is  a male and who gangs up with other males against women. They worship a thug. They worship a God who thinks little girls should be married to grown men. They worship a God who looks on in approval when a grown man rapes a child because he is "married" to her. They worship a God who thinks a woman should receive 80 lashes with a whip because her hair wasn't completely covered. They worship a God who is pleased when three brothers hack their sisters to death with axes because one of them married without their father's permission. 

If this sounds harsh, consider that Sharia adultery laws state that a raped woman must face the next-to-impossible task of providing four male witnesses to substantiate her allegation or be convicted of adultery. When rapists leave Pakistani women pregnant, the court takes the bulge in their bellies as evidence against them. In Nigeria, Sharia courts not only punish raped women for adultery, but order an extra punishment of a whipping for making false accusations against "innocent" men. In Israel, ultra-Orthodox gangs in Jerusalem beat up women seen in the company of married men. In the United States, the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints give teenagers to old men in arranged marriages and tell them they must completely submit to their wishes.  In Saudi Arabia, women live in a theocratic state that stops them walking unaccompanied in the street, driving a car and speaking to men outside the family. After unwisely taking a sprig of the bin Laden family to be her husband, Carmen Dufour described the consequences. 

At first, I wasn't even aware of what seemed so strange about this  country, but then it hit me: half the population of Saudi Arabia is kept behind walls, all the time. It was hard to fathom, a city with almost no women. I felt like a ghost. Women didn't exist in this world of men.

To move from ghosts to corpses, if the Taliban retake power in Afghanistan, they will once again ban women from public spaces, thus depriving them of employment, and thus closing the health and education services. Any teacher who presumes to teach them to read and write will be executed. Meanwhile the Islamic Republic of Iran has almost certainly renewed its terror tactic of raping women prisoners before killing them. Because religious law declares it illegal to execute a virgin, the guards arrange a "wedding" ceremony and rape the prisoner once it is over. 

"I regret that, even though the marriages were legal," a Basiji militiaman said as he recalled how he became a state-endorsed rapist as a young man. "I could tell that the girls were more afraid of their ‘wedding' night than of the execution that awaited them in the morning. And they would always fight back, so we would have to put sleeping pills in their food. By morning, the girls would have an empty expression; it seemed as if they were ready or wanted to die."

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August 30th, 2009
5:08 PM
you're a magnificent writer (here as in so much of your work) mr cohen, and i am grateful we have you.

August 30th, 2009
3:08 PM
Of course the invasion of Iraq (which Cohen supported) did so much for women's rights. Women who opposed the war such as Cindy Sheehan and the Dixie Chicks came in for the full blast of misogyny from Cohen's hero Christopher Hitchens. Indeed Hitchens called them "f***ing fat slags". Finally, does Cohen consider the possibility that the Benson and Stangroom book got universally bad reviews because it is very bad book? Instead he peddles a bizarre conspiracy theory involving the literary editors of the broadsheet press. (Cohen's latest pot-boiler got a similar panning, so I detect a personal motive at work here.)

Ross Burns
August 29th, 2009
1:08 PM
This is serious stuff; and nowhere in this essay is there anything but someone throwing his intelligence in with the need for women to have better lives all over the world.

August 28th, 2009
8:08 PM
These people are cowards. The reason they won't speak in favor of the oppressed is because then they might have actually do something about the oppression. And, gee, what do you suppose we'd have to do to gain Islamic women the rights they deserve?

August 28th, 2009
6:08 PM
It seems to me that what you are describing is that men - a large number of them worldwide - hate women. Men 'invented' and 'police' god, ie religion, the religion itself is usually capable of being flexible. It's the way it is used for power, politics and control of women that is unacceptable. Any religion. So, guys, what are you going to do about it?

Tina Trent
August 27th, 2009
7:08 PM
It sounds that what the world needs now, primarily, is for "former Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips" to stop calling for "Sharia at the East London Mosque." Next, all the male lawyers can take equal responsibility with the female ones for calling for equality, and the columnists who imagine all of feminist liberation in terms of the tiny fraction of white females (ie. families) who have domestic help can actually check real demographics and also check with their non-feminist peers to survey the prevalence and race and income of their help before making presumptions about cause and effect. I know exactly no women with domestic help, and I know many, many, many people who otherwise fit the description. Caitlin Flanagan needs to put down her little mirror before taking up her little pen, and Germaine Greer has cabbage for brains: they represent precious little beyond their own neuroses and small portions of very select zip codes (well, Greer is on her own). On the other hand, you hit the hammer on the head in your last few paragraphs about the real reason why feminists remain silent but go no further to hypothesizing whether others remain silent for the same reason, which in that case would be a worse reason because they're relying on misdirection and scapegoating. You propose a radical feminist movement that can rise above accusations of racism? This article is an object lesson in the thin chances of that.

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