I have not been reading the news about the Afghani Shiite Family Law too closely. This is partly because of a challenge in the last issue of Geez that got me thinking about my consumption of the news - it made me question whether I am making the world a better place or myself a better person by being constantly bombarded with everything horrible that is happening all over the world. So, I've heard about it when I had the radio on and seen the headlines, but I haven't delved in.
Even in that limited exposure, though, there have been something about the discourse that has rubbed me the wrong way. I take it as a given that marital rape is bad, and that governments shouldn't legalize it - the fact that this is a "no brainer" for me is one of the reasons why I didn't feel the need to "follow" the story any further. However, what's been sitting poorly with me is the way that the media has covered this issue. Today's Globe and Mail says, in a line that is indicative of what I've been hearing, "The law, passed last month, says a husband can demand sex with his wife every four days unless she is ill or would be harmed by intercourse — a clause that critics say legalizes marital rape."
A clause that CRITICS SAY legalizes marital rape?! I don't know if the media is trying not to be judgemental, but if they do have their facts right, and the law does indeed say "a husband can demand sex every four days", then there is no other side of the story - that's not a controversial interpretation by critics: this clause legalizes rape. Are the Canadian media outlets trying so hard to be culturally relativist and sensitive that they are suggesting that rape might be okay in some contexts? If there was a law that said a man could kill his wife for adultery, would the papers report that "critics say" it legalizes murder? I find the suggestion that there are any shades of grey concerning whether forced marital sex is rape to be offensive to women both in Afghanistan and around the world . . . apparently even in the western media a woman's sexual autonomy is still open for discussion, rather than a given, and that's sad.