Monday, July 28, 2014

The Plight of Sudanese Christian Meriam Ibrahim!

"It is a matter of principle that women are free and equal."--Ayaan Hirsi Ali
 --There are a lot of countries around the world where women have very few rights, mainly in Africa and the Middle East.  Many of them are Muslim countries that believe in Sharia Law.

--Sudan has seen a lot of turmoil.  During the Second Sudanes Civil War (1983-2005), many Christian Sudanese have been murdered by Muslim Arabs and many children displaced and orphaned.  Sudan recently split into 2 different countries, the Muslim north staying Sudan and the Christian south becoming South Sudan.

--Meriam Ibrahim was born to a Christian mother and a Muslim father.  Her father left her family when she was young, so Ibrahim was raised as a Christian.

--Ibrahim married a Christian man, Daniel Wani who is an American citizen.  According to Islamic (Sharia) law, Muslim women are not allowed to marry non-Muslim men.  Since, Ibrahim is considered to be a Muslim woman because of her father, she was accused of committing adultery. She was sentenced to 100 lashes, death by hanging and put in jail unless she renounced her faith.

--Ibrahim was put in jail with her 20 month old son and she was also 8 months pregnant.  She was shackled and not given proper medical attention. 

--Miraculously (because of global outrage), a Sudanese appeals court ordered her to be released.  She was to fly with her family to the United States the next day, but was prevented from doing that.  Finally, Lapo Pistelli (vice-minister for foreign affairs in Italy) flew to Sudan and Italy was able to secure her release.

--Ibrahim flew to Italy with Pistelli and she got to meet the Pope.

--This is a victory for religious freedom that is rare these days.  The way women are treated under Sharia Law is horrific.  Female circumcision is one of the most gruesome procedures, and yet it still happens:
The numbers are really sickening. Last year, 3.6 million little girls were “cut”–or had their genitals mutilated. The crude cultural ritual involves the removal, usually with a knife or razor, of a girl’s clitoris and labia–and not always with anesthesia. The extent of the procedure varies, but the trauma and pain can last a lifetime.
The practice is still “almost universal” in Egypt, Somalia, Guinea and Djibouti, and common in more than 25 other countries, according to a report out Tuesday from UNICEF. It is even practiced in “pockets” of North America and Europe, UNICEF says.

When you read the numbers, think not of the many zeroes at the end, which can make any of us glaze over, but of the individual tales of each life one, by one, by one, and what each girl had to endure. Cutting is always done before puberty—sometimes when the girls are still tots, often between the ages of five and 14, but always when a girl is most vulnerable and unable to protect herself.

Worldwide, an estimated 125 million women alive today have been mutilated, primarily in Africa and the Middle East, even though the practice has been outlawed in many of the countries where families still force their girls to go through it. Cutting is the ultimate global barometer of gender inequality.

--Finding a way to free women and girls from the oppression of Sharia Law is a cause I am passionate about.

--The AHA Foundation is making great strides in fighting FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) in the United States.

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