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Descrizione dell’editore

One of the innumerable electronic petitions flashing across the Internet in the early months of 2003 held special interest for feminists. Carrying the name and logo of Amnesty International in Spanish, the petition asked recipients to sign electronically an appeal against the sentence of stoning to death handed down against Amina Lawal, a divorced Nigerian woman, who had had a baby outside marriage. (1) In August 2002, an Islamic court in Katsina state in northern Nigeria had convicted Lawal of adultery under Sharia law. The "save Amina" petition collected many thousands of electronic signatures from around the world, but in May 2003, it was followed by another e-communication with the subject line "Please Stop the International Amina Lawal Protest Letter Campaigns." The second e-message was signed by Ayesha Imam and Sindi Medar-Gould, representing two Nigerian human rights organizations defending Lawal. Imam and Medar-Gould asserted that the "save Amina" petition in fact endangered Lawal and made the task of her Nigerian supporters more difficult, in part because the petition contained a number of factual errors, including a false assertion that execution of the sentence was imminent. They also observed: "There is an unbecoming arrogance in assuming that international human rights organizations or others always know better than those directly involved, and therefore can take actions that fly in the face of their express wishes" (2) Electronic petitions have become a popular means by which Western feminists endeavor to "save" women in other countries. The petitions often use sensational language to denounce some non-Western culture for its inhumane treatment of women and girls. Worries about non-Western cultural practices are not limited to those in the West who identify themselves as feminists. The popular press regularly runs stories about non-Western practices it finds disturbing, especially when these practices concern women's sexuality and/or are noticed to be occurring among immigrant groups. Recent news stories have raised the alarm about arranged marriage, "sexual slavery," dowry murder ("bride-burning"), "honor" killings, genital cutting ("circumcision," "mutilation"), sex-selective abortion, and female infanticide. Newspapers in the United States have also questioned whether female U.S. soldiers, stationed in Saudi Arabia, should be required when off base to conform to Saudi laws mandating covering their bodies and forbidding them to drive.

Politica e attualità
1 dicembre
Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs

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