Saturday, January 28, 2006

Wives as Property, Wives as Hostages to Love?

According to the ABC News:

The U.S. Army in Iraq has at least twice seized and jailed the wives of suspected insurgents in hopes of "leveraging" their husbands into surrender, U.S. military documents show.

In one case, a secretive task force locked up the young mother of a nursing baby, a U.S. intelligence officer reported. In the case of a second detainee, one American colonel suggested to another that they catch her husband by tacking a note to the family's door telling him "to come get his wife."

The issue of female detentions in Iraq has taken on a higher profile since kidnappers seized American journalist Jill Carroll on Jan. 7 and threatened to kill her unless all Iraqi women detainees are freed.

This is unethical. We shouldn't punish the family members of someone we suspect of a crime. It is also a highly inflammatory strategy in a country where the honor of a family is regarded as lodged in its women. It's stupid, in short.

But it's also a possibly feminist topic for discussion. Possibly, because I can imagine the U.S. intelligence doing the same to male family members of someone they suspect of being an insurgent or a terrorist. Still, doing it to the women strikes a different tone, because of the women-as-honor concept I mentioned and because many still view women as the property of their families or their husbands and fathers. Or as an appendix to the men, something that is seen as belonging to them, something that is not seen as a separate individual person.

Whatever your opinion on the feminist contents of this topic might be, it certainly is true that kidnapping wives in Iraq is an extremely bad policy if we want the American ideals of fairness and democracy and all that shit respected all over the world.