A deeply moving story of human courage comes to life in Nick Kristoff's Op-Ed column in The Times today. For anyone wondering just what kinds of culture and society we're facing in our on-again, off-again fight against the likes of al Quaeda, this article provides a searing reminder. These are cruel tribes that despise modernity and treat women like property to be discarded when somehow devalued by rape and desecration. Writes Kristoff:
The plight of women in developing countries isn't addressed much in the West, and it certainly isn't a hot topic in the presidential campaign. But it's a life-and-death matter in villages like Meerwala, a 12-hour drive southeast from Islamabad.
While many women choose suicide after so-called courts of justice "sentence" them to ritual gang-rape, Mukhtaran Bibi is fighting back, opening schools for boys and girls to try and affect social change. Her venture is under-funded, and her life is in constant danger.
We in the West could help chip away at that oppression, with health and literacy programs and by simply speaking out against it, just as we once stood up against slavery and totalitarianism. But instead of standing beside fighters like Ms. Mukhtaran, we're still sitting on the fence.
We wring our hands over the election, over the stock market, and we talk proudly about freedom from the safety of our abundant shores. But Mukhtaran Bibi is fighting the real battle. She is a real hero for our times. Read the story. Think about what we can do to help.
UPDATE: I've updated Ms. Bibi's story in a new post here. It's worth a read.