Cruel and Usual – Enforcing Patriarchal Rule

1. Acid and remarriage:

“Nurbanu divorced her husband of 18 years eight days before he returned and threw acid in her face in Shatkhira in south west Bangladesh. She had originally ended the marriage after she found him with another woman.

“My husband went into hiding. After 10 months he was caught and jailed for a year,” she told The Huffington Post.

Nurbanu’s husband spent 12 months in jail for disfiguring her. He had been on the run for ten months before authorities caught up with him, but after his release his family coerced her into re-marrying him.

“His mother paid for his release on bail,” she said. “She made me sign an affidavit to have him released. She used my sons to convince me to marry him again.”

The acid attack has left the 36-year-old mother with horrific facial injuries. She is now blind and unable to even prepare a meal for herself.

“People would think a husband would take care of a blind wife. But this doesn’t happen,” she said adding that her husband still regularly beats her. “This is how my days go by,” she said.

Nurbanu  is one of thousands of women in Bangladesh who have had acid flung at them by a relative or partner due to domestic arguments, financial woes or even rejected marriage proposals.”

Incidentally, people, this is one of the reasons why conservatives and religious fundamentalists hate welfare systems and any kind of social assistance, not because it breeds dependency, but precisely because it fosters independence, especially for women who then have more options to walk away from a bad marriage even in the absence of professional prospects (hence the opprobrium thrown at single women as the cause of all social problems). Conservatives pay lip service to charity because it allows them to distinguish between those they deem deserving of it, based on their own “moral” criteria, and those undeserving. Charity also allows them to attach strings to their charitable deeds (there’s your dependency, right there). Social assistance, in its most powerful form, is either universal (health care, education), or based on economic criteria (income), not “moral” and do not divide the population between the deserving and the undeserving.

And remember, for conservatives, the solution to all social problems is marriage (well, except for gays), even if it has to be done out of necessity, as the case above, or forced down people’s throats:

“Afghan police have arrested two men accused of beheading a teenage girl with a knife in northern Kunduz province, officials say.

Prior to the attack, the girl’s father had rejected a marriage proposal for his daughter.

“Our investigation shows those who killed her were people who wanted to marry her,” police told the BBC.

Earlier this month, four policemen were jailed for 16 years for raping a young woman in the same province.

In the latest incident, the girl, who was about 14 years old, was carrying drinking water from a nearby well to her house in Imam Sahib district when she was attacked on Monday.

“People were harassing the family and asking for her hand. When she refused, they did this to her,” a police official told the BBC.

Senior Afghan officials and local tribal elders said the two suspects were close relatives of the girl.

The father had not wanted his daughter to get married because she was “too small to be engaged”, he was quoted as saying by the Pajhwok news agency.”

Marriage, from this perspective, is a masculine entitlement. The only acceptable discussion is then the terms of acquisition of a bride but always within the context that the groom and his family are entitled to a bride. Refusal is not an option.

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