KISMAYO, Somalia—Aisha Ibrahim Kuhulow was just 13 years old when she tried to report the three men who raped her to the Shabab militia that controls her town. But not only did the militia fail to do anything about the rapists, they also failed to protect Aisha from being publicly stoned to death by fundamentalist Muslims.
Her crime: Having sex outside of marriage—a major offense under Shari'a law.
Doesn't matter that she was 13 (though early reports put her at 23); doesn't matter that she didn't have sex voluntarily—she committed a "crime against chastity," and even though the punishment for such an "offense" as prescribed by the Koran is 100 lashes, religious zealots sealed her fate.
According to the Norwegian newspaper Stavanger Aftenbladet, "The 13-year old was led in [to the local football stadium] and forced into a hole in the ground. The hole was then filled so that only her head was showing. About 50 men then started to throw stones at her, according to [Amnesty International's] information. After a while, nurses were called to check whether Aisha was still alive. The thin body was then brought out of the hold and examined. When it was established that she was still alive, she was again placed in the hole so that the stone-throwers could continue."
And where was the local militia in all this? The Stavanger Aftenbladet provides a clue: "When some of the spectators tried to storm the stadium to save Aisha, the militia opened fire on the crowd, and a young boy was killed."
And the rapists? "None of them have been arrested."
All that happened on Monday, halfway around the world from the 127th Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus held the previous week in Phoenix, Arizona—and yet some of the resolutions passed on August 6 by the fundamentalist Catholic organization seem to have a bearing on the Somalian murders.
For instance, what Islamic fundamentalist wouldn't sign onto the Knights' call, in its "Resolution on the Impact of Violence and Pornography," for the "entertainment industry," of which adult is clearly a part, to "halt the steady erosion of public standards of decency and restraint," since the Resolution claims that porn causes "infidelity, broken marriages, both direct and indirect harm to children and a general breakdown of moral standards of every sort"?
After all, even if Somalia is "one of the world's poorest countries" where "one in every four children dies before the age of five," and since its dictator was overthrown in 1991, has been involved in a civil war such that its "eight million inhabitants have since lived under constant threats of further acts of violence and famine"—who knows what hijab-less head or unclothed ankle or calf may have inspired the three men to rape Aisha?
And how would those Muslim fundamentalists take the Knights' prescription that, "we encourage all parents to foster a wholesome atmosphere and open communication on sexual matters within the family, and call upon all Knights to support groups that work to oppose pornography and promote family values and respect for human dignity in the media." After all, isn't the "honor killing" of a "defiled" girl the highest of "family values and respect for human dignity" among these Eastern religious zealots?
And after all, the Eastern fundies are only making sure that young women stay "pure" for marriage, which according to the Knights' "Resolution on Support for Marriage" is a "natural institution based on ancient human values that are deeply rooted in our social, legal and religious institutions," and "not a chance sociological or historical construction but instead reflects the natural biological complementarity of man and woman which predates the state and is woven into the social and religious fabric of every major culture and society"—not to mention, is "a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman." Non-virgins—like Aisha—need not apply! (Well, of course, she can't, now...)
So of course, the Knights have resolved to "pray that the Holy Spirit will enlighten elected officials to adopt laws and judges to exercise their authority so as to affirm the family and the authentic nature of marriage"—and what better way to ensure "the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others" than to make sure each potential wife is a virgin and to kill all the ones who aren't—not to mention all the ones who are unfaithful while married—or at least beat the living shit out of them?
Yeah, it's too bad the Knights of Columbus are a Catholic organization, because it looks like they'd fit right in in Somalia or some other fundamentalist Muslim country!
(Note: Yes, we know that just like most religions, only a small number of Muslims—and Catholics—are fundamentalists. YMMV.)