Thursday, February 21, 2008

On the Pakistan Election

Well, the opposition to Musharraf did well there, and on the whole the elections were judged to be quite successful, what with not so many deaths or vote rigging incidents:

International election observers said Wednesday that the election had not met international standards, mainly because of the seriously flawed pre-election environment. They cited in particular the period of emergency rule in November, which favored the government's candidates.

Yet they said that the election still proved competitive, that voters were able to express their will and that the vote produced a result broadly accepted by the population. "Millions of Pakistanis took a leap of faith Monday by showing up at the polls," said James Moody, who led an American group of election observers.

I'm glad to learn that the religious extremists didn't do well in the elections. Those guys scare me, and for a very good reason. But I'm not happy that the attempts to stop women from voting were not given more attention in the media. Until we take women's rights as seriously as human rights in general (and yes, I know those aren't always taken that seriously, either) we are going to go on discussing whether cultural traditions make it perfectly all right to disenfranchise half the population.

I sometimes imagine how I'd see the human societies if I was an alien from outer space, and it seems to me that the aspect I'd be most distressed by is the time-honored oppression of women, the stunting of girls' intellectual and ethical growth and the astonishing fact that if you are opposed to those practices you get a specific label: a feminist. It shouldn't be like that. It really should not.