- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 22, 2001

No honor in violence against women

The news of Marianne Irmgard Oweiss' murder is horribly disturbing ("Doctor charged with killing wife," Aug. 17). If her death was indeed the result of her husband's outrage over an alleged extramarital affair, the story takes an especially macabre twist. It evokes the "honor killings" that, sadly, are all too familiar for thousands of women throughout the world and in all cultures, particularly those in the Middle East and South Asia, where authorities are willing to turn a blind eye to the violence.
State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler said Dr. Zakaria M. Oweiss, a U.S. citizen born and raised in Egypt, suspected his wife of having "an extramarital affair that was a disgrace to the family." This scenario is common in a number of countries where the mere perception of an illicit relationship, the attempt to marry a man of one's own choosing, a decision to divorce an abusive husband or even being the victim of rape is said to bring "dishonor" to a man or family. The shame, all too often, is avenged by family members.
The attacks can be brutal. Zahida Parveen, a Pakistani woman who lived in Maryland while undergoing reconstructive surgery after she had been attacked brutally by her husband, recently told of her ordeal. Her husband, suspicious that she had been unfaithful, hung Parveen upside down, beat her with a wooden ax handle until she bled, cut off her nose and ear lobes and took out her eyes with a metal rod. Ironically, she is one of the fortunate ones. She survived, and in a rare case of justice being administered, her husband is serving a 14-year-sentence in Pakistan.
However, the deaths of many other women go unpunished, as reports by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have shown. Until government officials in countries that practice so-called "honor killings" are willing to provide legal protection from these senseless acts rather than turn a blind eye in the name of tradition "honor violence" will continue.

GEOFFREY MOCK
Egypt country specialist
Amnesty International USA
New York

U.N. not an arm of U.S. foreign policy

Contrary to Oliver North's assertion in his Aug. 19 Commentary column, "Xenophobia at the U.N.," the United Nations is not an arm of U.S. foreign policy designed only to suit U.S. interests. The United Nations is an international organization designed to further international interests of peace, human rights and economic development. If Mr. North had his way, the United Nations would be merely a second, somewhat larger State Department, working solely for the priorities of the United States.
Mr. North cites statistics indicating that a low percentage of U.N. employees are from the United States. However, because Mr. North fails to report what percentage of applicants to U.N. positions were American, the statistics are at best incomplete and at worst useless. I am sure Mr. North opposes racial quotas for hiring practices in the United States. It seems strange, then, that he apparently wants nationality quotas for U.N. hiring based on a nation's financial support of the United Nations. Shouldn't the United Nations simply be able to hire those it determines to be capable of doing the job?
Mr. North also states in his attack on U.N. hiring practices that "qualified American applicants were overlooked in favor of others more empathetic to the global goals of the blue bonnets." Of course the United Nations is going to hire those empathetic to its cause. ExxonMobil would not hire someone whose goals include phasing out all internal-combustion engines. Any organization whose officials have two brain cells to rub together is going to hire people who share the goals of the organization. It's just common sense.
Like all other opponents of U.S. involvement in democratic international efforts, Mr. North is bringing up false charges and shouting about boogeymen to try to drum up support for isolationism and unilateralism, two doctrines that are unfeasible and downright dangerous in the 21st century.

SAMM CHISZAR
Gaithersburg

Appeasement is no strategy for peace in Middle East

In his Aug. 18 Op-Ed column, "War process displaces peace process," Arnaud de Borchgrave says one way of preventing a full-fledged war in the Middle East is to make the "Unconditional aid to Israel to the tune of $3 billion a year conditional on the creation of a genuine Palestinian state that will be viable and the recipient of U.S. assistance ."
In other words, according to Mr. de Borchgrave, everyone should forget that the reason Israel is ready to go to war is because the Palestinians, with the support and assistance of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, have committed thousands of acts of terrorism in the past year, making life unbearable for the citizens of Israel. Instead, Israel must reward the Palestinians for their continuing acts of violence and give them a state. Of course, giving the Palestinians a state in the current situation would be suicidal for Israel. Appeasement never worked in the past and never will work in the future.

JACK KAUFMAN
College Park


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