High Hopes for Women

My daughter’s blonde hair falls in soft waves around her shoulders and a few inches below them onto her back and arms. I’m studying her dewy, perfect¬†skin as she leans on a pile of pillows in a pink cotton camisole and striped flannel pajama pants. Her red glasses frame curious, spirited blue eyes, and she laughs aloud as she reads words, words, words that delight her and inspire her…..to read on….to learn….to love life even more than she already does.

If you’ve ever been transfixed by your daughter in this same way, you know how it feels. I marvel and wonder…Who is she today? Who will she become? What will she hope for? What will she share with the world?

My reveries for my daughter are born of the trust that she will learn, she will have opportunities, and she will live her life in freedom. Blessed am I, indeed.

Now, imagine the horror of seeing your beloved daughter (or wife, sister, mother, cousin, or friend) attacked by an angry mob – a mob who beats her with sticks and stones, drags her under a car, burns her body, and tosses it over a railing onto the rocky banks of a river. This is what happened to Farkhunda last week, a 27-year woman who was murdered in Afghanistan, falsely accused of burning a Koran. I stared at her blood-covered face in the Washington Post yesterday, and thought, “‘[I]n the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.’ (Genesis 1:27)….Made in the image of God.”

Farkhunda studied at an Islamic school and wore the head-to-toe garments conservative Muslim women reportedly favor. Her father said she believed education for women would help them in domestic life. But it seems she was lynched for expressing ideas. So very dangerous in her part of the world.

Everything within me wants to yell, “It’s not fair!!!! Do something! She deserved better! She should have had space and safety to let her mind and spirit soar. She was a gift! Her sisters are too! Don’t you see!!?!?”

But no, they don’t see. The men who killed her didn’t see. The mind of a mob is a terrible thing. Convinced of it’s ‘right’ judgment, it is capable of the worst kinds of cruelty.

But we do, we say. We see. Farkhunda was born with certain inalienable rights – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And governments are instituted among men to secure these rights. How I love the ring and resonance of these words.

Yet, do we see? Do we all see? Are we overlooking the most important point?

If we are to seriously take up the cause for women’s rights in Afghanistan and elsewhere, we must first remember by whom those rights are granted to us. We must raise this Truth in every argument. We cannot lapse in our appreciation of, lapse in our desire for, or lapse in our fervor for, the profession of this Truth. Inherent natural inalienable rights were endowed to Farkhunda by her Creator – The Lord of the Universe – and until the hearts of mankind come to know this Truth, the violence and bloodshed will continue.

Last year, I gave my daughter a gift – a framed verse of a Proverb – which now hangs in her room. It’s there to give her a vision….Of a woman grounded in Truth, fully aware that her pricelessness has been inextricably forged into the fiber of her being, and sure of her purpose in this world because she looks with confidence to the One who brought her into it and promises to be with her in the next.

This verse is my prayer and hope for my daughter, for the women who knew Farkhunda and carried her coffin, and for women everywhere. May the girls of the world be seen for who they are, and for Whose image they reflect.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.”
– Proverbs 31: 25