This breaks my heart. To see it is to witness a pillaging, the slow desecration of a woman, and the abandonment of what it is to be a human being. We see man reduce himself to pure evil, a malevolence masked in a misunderstood notion of a just retribution. In tearing away another person’s basic humanity, in punishing another soul as one would an animal, man is a nothing more than a barbarous monster. History never changes.
A woman, dressed in a traditional black Muslim dress, trembles with absolute fear as she is chivvied into the middle of some public space, where she is to be flogged. A police officer whips her from behind, and on her knees she instinctively begins to move away, screaming in agony as her tormentor continues to lash her calmly as if he were doing a mundane task. Her hands shake wildly as confusion engulfs her. She doesn’t know what to do. It’s as if she is looking for relief, an escape, for someone to hold her and bring this all to an end. And she cries and cries for her mother. She is literally torn to shreds, her dignity assailed.
There is an awful moment where things reach a nadir. From what I can see, the severity of one of the violent whips nearly induces her to vomit. At least I think it does, maybe my judgement is clouded. Either way, it is a vile and humiliating event, one, which even in light of the endless atrocities that occur across the world on a daily basis – as they always have throughout history – loses none of its horrendous impact. It is an atrocity.
In Sudan, where this travesty occurred, flogging is not only common – from what I read – it is law. Yes, it is law. What occurred to this woman was within the acceptable confines of this country’s legal system. This in itself is no big revelation; we already know this kind of thing happens, just as we know stoning in other countries is a regular form of punishment for various offences. It’s just we have never seen anything like this. At least I haven’t.
The statement from the judicial authority that they would look into the possible improper conduct – in other words the flogging itself was fine, it just might not have been done right – highlights the indifference they have to such a cruel act. While we may view it as abhorrent, regressive, and a remnant of an uncivilised world, they view it as fair, in fitting with their values, and in short, a fairly arbitrary thing, something that doesn’t merit deep conversation let alone a debate. I disagree. This is disgustingly wrong. This requires deeper discourse, education, and for someone to say I object.
Today that’s me. Tomorrow I hope it’s someone else, and then someone else and so on until the political echelons and powers that be take charge. It’s not easy. This is life for them and they believe in this so doggedly. But they’re wrong. And we in a free democracy have a duty to shout this position out loudly.
Will it make a difference? I doubt it… and that makes this even sadder.