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Women’s interests vs justice

FYI, an article and my response:

Germany and its Muslims
Soft on suffering

Mar 29th 2007 | FRANKFURT
From The Economist print edition
The adverse consequences of judicial appeasement

INDIGNATION greeted the news of a (female) judge’s decision to deny a
Moroccan woman a quick divorce on the ground that the Koran allows
husbands to beat their wives. The judge, who was removed from the
case, seemed to imply that the woman, who got married in Morocco,
should take beatings as part of the deal. The tale has aroused fears
that the German judicial system may go too far to accommodate

Legal experts were quick to point out the sovereignty of German law
over any other in Germany. But with 3.3m Muslims, of whom 2.2m are
Turkish, striking a balance is not easy. Consider “honour killings”,
in which the victims are usually young women who have refused an
arranged marriage or strayed outside one, and the killers often the
husband or brother. There were 48 cases between 1996 and 2004, says
the Federal Crime Office. But data on trials have not been
collected–and a few cases suggest that the punishment can be light.

For example, three brothers of Hatun Surucu, a Kurdish Turk who
rebelled to become a single mother, were tried last year for shooting
her dead in Berlin in February 2005. The youngest was jailed for just
nine years and three months; the other two walked free for lack of
evidence. In a poll after the trial 65% of respondents said the whole
family should be returned to Turkey.

In another case last November a judge in North Rhine-Westphalia
acquitted a man accused of killing his brother’s former girlfriend,
despite strong signs that it was an honour killing. Only in Denmark
has an entire family been punished for an honour killing. German
courts err on the side of caution, partly because of Nazi history. “No
public servant wants to be accused of racism, but women suffer as a
result,” says Myria Böhmecke at Terre des Femmes, a women’s rights

The real trouble lies in failure to integrate Muslim immigrants, and
to improve education and the lot of women. The first generation of
Turkish Gastarbeiter in the 1960s was expected to go home, but many
stayed. Even now only 19% of those of Turkish origin have taken German
nationality. Many of the young are alienated at school and home alike.
Unofficial figures this week showed an increase of 8% in right-wing
acts of racial violence in 2006. That figure may keep rising if judges
are seen to be too soft on unacceptable practices by Muslims.

My Response:

This article is unconvincing regarding its central argument. The
examples given don’t support the claim that Muslims are
being treated softly in Germany. One brother was jailed for “just” 9 years 3 months;
that seems light for murder but perhaps he played a minor role in the
events. The remaining examples involved accused being acquitted or “walking
free” (a pejorative implication) due to lack of evidence. That has nothing to do with going soft
on Muslims but does suggest that they are being given the same rights
as anyone else to be treated as innocent unless proven guilty beyond
reasonable doubt.

However, what the article does point to is the racism existing in the German population
the majority of whom wanted a whole family to be
deported when only one brother was found guilty of wrongdoing, and who
are increasingly subjecting innocent Muslim immigrants to violence for
no other reason than their religion or race. The article seems to
arise out of and to further encourage the same racism.

Another phenomenon highlighted by the article is the tendency for feminists
to view women’s interests as more important than any other ethic.
When Muslim men are acquitted after fair trials this is
seen as making women suffer. Do they want more changes to legal
process to make male or Muslim convictions easier to obtain on the basis of the same
(inadequate) evidence? Although this will result in fewer truly
guilty defendants being acquitted there will also be a
proportional increase in the number of truly innocent people
being found guilty, i.e. in wrongful convictions. For feminists, principles of fair justice
are then subservient to women’s “rights”. As pointed out by Lynley
Hood in her expose of the Peter Ellis debacle, in our own justice system over the last few decades
we have seen progressive removal of protections against wrongful conviction
of the innocent, but mainly for crimes thought to be committed more by
males against females. This was epitomized in the recent Nicholas case where an accused was
acquitted on the evidence but feminist groups insisted that
longstanding legal protections for the accused should have been
discarded in order to facilitate a conviction. Meanwhile, feminist
supporters in the media and elsewhere subjected the acquitted man
to various forms of mob justice regardless of
due process. Our family law system is now rotten with similar injustice in
service of women’s rights. Protection orders subject men to removal of
various civil rights on the basis of nothing but a woman’s
accusations. Even when those usually unevidenced accusations contain nothing about
the man’s behaviour towards the children, the men are routinely
separated from their children and are automatically sentenced to a form of periodic detention through
enforced attendance at regular feminist indoctrination sessions.

The article did however bring out at least one valid point: if we tolerate
ongoing injustice in our society the result is likely to be violent