Friday, February 17, 2012

Aghan society still adheres to tribal values, a puzzle to westerners

The New York Times pushed down on the front page the story of the death in Syria of its correspondent, Anthony Shadid, to a disturbing story by Alissa J. Rubin, “A Childhood Lost to Pay for the Sins of Others”, link here. This refers to the practice of “selling” girls in tribal Afghan society to pay for misdeeds by family elders.  Typically the girls wind up in arrange marriages and a kind of slavery, but it isn’t hard to imagine them winding up in the sex trade – and Ashton Kutcher’s “Real men don’t buy girls.”

The article describes the practical reality of tribal society, where national law and justice is not operative.  Throughout history, probably most people (until modern decades) grew up in cultures where local governance by family elders was more influential than the official political system.  In low income areas in the US, it translates into gangs.  In religious cults, it means extremely strict family values which often oppose women’s independence outside of the home (and sometimes supports polygamy).  In less well managed school districts, it means bullying, allowed to run out of control.  Call it something, call it “tribal realism”.  The Bible even seems to support the idea is some places.  It is true, tribes are expected to “take care of all their own”.

Here’s another clip, “Trouble Waters”, from MSNBC, Feb. 14, on the Strait or Hormuz.

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