The Ryot U.S. recently published a photo gallery of Middle Eastern women who suffered acid attacks at the hands of former suitors whose marriage proposals they rejected.
These shocking incidents show that there is still a massive consent-issue when it comes to women and marriage. Some women choose not to get married. That is their right and should thus be respected.
I have a middle-aged aunt who is a gorgeous and strong woman; and still I would find myself asking: "But, why isn’t she married?". That is because everyone else in my family has already found their soulmate.
For a while I even saw my aunt as kind of tragic. But the truth, which I later learnt, is that a few years ago, she was about to get married.
At the last moment, she called off the wedding amidst Lobola negotiations; and her fiance took the news very maturely – even though this couldn’t have been easy for him.
Now imagine her in the shoes of these women attacked with acid, deciding not to tie the knot after all. Backing out, or simply choosing to remain single. It is chilling to think she would have been one of the acid burn survivors.
For me, this all boils down to the kind of men boys have been raised to become. For some men, they are raised to believe that they are entitled to have certain things; mainly because of their gender. This often includes the right to a wife. If they don’t get what is theirs, they feel disrespected. Then they hurt people.
In my Christian faith, we believe that a marriage should reflect Christ’s love for the church. This means that two people must love each other and have each other’s best interests at heart at all times.
A man must love his wife as he would himself. Which man, who has a healthy love for himself would pour acid on his own face?
If a man truly loves a woman, just like my aunt’s former fiancé did, he will respect her decision not to get married and find happiness with someone else.
What if those acid burn survivors said "yes"? To be honest, that question did cross my mind. Any marriage that is not based on mutual consent is unlikely to be a happy/loving marriage. It can be endured, but never happy.
I could never fathom what it must be like to choose between being free, yet mutilated; or stuck in an unhappy marriage without any external scars.
I commend these women for their courage and their choice under such harsh circumstances.
Many commentators on the story rightfully say that these 'boys' should be brutally punished. One of them even says that the acid "should be poured on their genitals."
Will even the most severe punishment, put a stop to this disgusting practice? After all, crimes such as domestic violence still exist despite the strictest laws against it. I say, our hearts are the drawing board and that is where we need to go for any hope of change.