“My sharpest memories are the beatings”

Slaves exist in our time. Listen to this 7-minute interview on BBC Today.

Even after four years on the run, her antagonists still hunt her and claim her as their “property.”

Forced to marry a “violent and cruel” 40-year-old member of the family when only 12-years-old, she was forbidden from leaving the house or even walking in an outdoor courtyard.

“My sharpest memories are the beatings,” she told him. “I tried to kill myself several times. The first time a drank bleach, and on another occasion acid.”

So what does religion have to do with this? Nothing in the news report mentions religion, and obviously the main factor is ancient patriarchical social structures deeply entrenched in society, right?

Well, not so fast. Religion is very much the sinister villain at work behind the scenes. Over time, traditions change, ethics change, social structures change, usually to the better, as long as open discussion is allowed. But if you’re in a position where you need to subdue the weak and uphold dehumanizing traditions, there is no more efficient and no more powerful way to assert authority than organized religion.

Imagine you’re a leader of the ruling class in Afghanistan. Which one works best:

“As the eldest/wisest/most powerful authority person here, I hereby rule that you may keep slaves and treat them like shit.”

“As a spokesperson for The Almighty Creator of all earth and heavens, ruler of all life and afterlife, I hereby confer upon you divine rights to keep slaves and treat them like shit.”

Organized religion is the ultimate authoritarian tool to divide people, to subdue and control. Religion gives control not only over people’s actions, but over their ideas, thoughts and dreams – a more totalitarian system can hardly be imagined.

(Ah but this is only about Islamic countries, you say? Well you may wish to check your Bible again. Nowhere in it does God, Jesus, any prophet or anyone else advise against slavery. On the contrary, slavery is not only acceptable, but recommended throughout the Bible, and consistently so. So much for “My religion is better than yours.”)

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2 Responses to “My sharpest memories are the beatings”

  1. Do you mind if I quote your writing in my monthly newsletter? I would think this article suits my topic perfectly. Well, thanks for writing this.

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