An utterly riveting cable TV show called “Love Crimes of Kabul” follows
the stories of Afghan women who have been imprisoned for breaking strict
Sharia law governing sex outside of marriage. Their crimes would be
hardly recognizable in the United States: adultery, fornication,
prostitution and lewd behavior have become pretty much the norm here.
In one fascinating episode, a young woman has become pregnant while unmarried. Her parents turn her in to the authorities in disgrace. Her father laments that each time he goes out in public he shields his face out of shame. The neighborhood gossip is unbearable, cries the mother. Her lover is also charged and awaits trial in a neighboring jail.
As the episode develops, the parents attempt to negotiate a quick wedding. If they get married before the trial, perhaps the judge will be more lenient — prison sentences for moral crimes range from two to 15 years in Afghanistan. The situation presents a hardship for both families. The young man comes from a poor family and has no job or dowry to offer. The young woman’s family laments that if she does not get married she faces the prospect of raising her child in prison — and when she gets out she would have no viable options for marriage (in Afghanistan, virginity is a prized asset). After a series of negotiations conducted by the young man’s uncle, the handcuffed couple gets married in family court just before they are set to face trial.
The judge hears the case. He reviews the evidence — including a confession by the young woman, a medical test confirming her pregnancy and eyewitness accounts from a neighbor who caught them in the act. He concludes that they are guilty. However, he notes, the strength of the family unit is a fundamental value in Islam. He considers the fact that they are now married, and urges them to return home to raise their family in earnest. He sentences them to time served. The newlyweds are elated. The families are happy because their honor has been restored.
Let’s pan to America circa 2011. A young unmarried woman has a child out of wedlock. Nothing happens. The father abandons her and the baby girl. He is not held accountable. The young lady is poor, has trouble raising the child alone, and therefore neglects her. The toddler goes missing. A massive search ensues. The young woman goes out and parties like a rock star. Eventually the toddler’s decaying corpse is found in the woods with duct tape covering her mouth, discarded like a piece of trash. A media circus ensues. The woman is charged with murder. It gets even more sordid. Her winning defense is that she lied about the "accidental" death of her child because of the trauma of sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her own father. She is acquitted by a jury of her peers.
Which outcome would you rather have? A dead child or a strong young family supported by the community?