The egregious Nicholas Kristof turns in a worthy piece on wife-beating in Afghanistan without, of course, ever once mentioning Qur'an 4:34: "Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them."
Why mention it, Nicky? Because until it is addressed and definitively rejected by significant elements of the Islamic community, you will be able to write pieces like this until you're 95.
Anyway, heeeeeeeeeeere's Nicky:
I had an inspiration about where Osama bin Laden might be hiding. But when I visited the women's detention center in Kabul, there was no sign of him.
I did meet Ellaha, a bold 19-year-old prisoner who startled me by greeting me in English. (Like many Afghans, she uses only one name.) She had been attending college as a refugee in Iran when her family pulled her out, alarmed that education might corrupt a young lady's morals.
Her family returned to Afghanistan, and she found work in a U.S. construction company, where her bosses were so impressed that they began arranging a scholarship for her to go to Canada to study.
That horrified her family because the patriarchs had decided that she would marry her cousin. "I didn't agree to marry him," she told me through an interpreter, "because he is not educated and I don't like his job - he is a butcher. Plus, he's three years younger than me."
"When it was almost time for me to go to Canada, and I was asking about flights," she added, "they tied me up and locked me in a room. It was in my uncle's house. My father said, 'O.K., beat her.' I'd never been beaten like that in all my life. My uncle and cousins were all beating me. ... They broke my head, and I was bleeding."
Ms. Ellaha's younger sister, who had been pledged to another cousin, was facing the same treatment. After a week of being tied up, the two sisters agreed to marry their cousins.
"So we went home," Ms. Ellaha added, "and escaped."
The two sisters moved into a cheap guesthouse as they prepared to flee Afghanistan. But their family learned where they were hiding, and the police came to arrest them.
On what charge?
"It's because their lives were in danger," said Rana, the head of the detention center. Ms. Ellaha agrees that her family was pretty close to killing her. The sister is apparently back home, but I was not allowed to interview her.
The police subjected Ms. Ellaha to a mandatory virginity test. Fortunately, her hymen was intact, or she would have faced a prison sentence.
Now she worries that she will be released into her family's custody and then forced to marry her cousin. If that happens, she told me, "I will kill myself."
The entire jail is a kaleidoscope of woe. It's been two years since President Bush declared that in Afghanistan, "Today, women are free." But that's news to the inmates.
Nicky's right (for once). To give Bush his due, they are freer now than they were under the Taliban, but they still have a long way to go, and they won't start getting there until the elements of Islam that mandate second-class status for women, which are similar to those that mandate second-class status for non-Muslim dhimmis, are reformed. No, I am not holding my breath.