Monthly Archives: February 2011

Untested Rape Tests, Is This Really the Problem?

Hey everyone, I came across this story in womensenews.org called Most Rape Cases Are About Consent, Not DNA. It discusses the current findings of untested rape kits in Texas and how this has caused an outcry by feminists. The problem is that the untested rape kits really aren’t the main problem. Most girls that are raped know the people who did it. The problem is the idea of consent. Studies show that victims are often blamed for the man’s crime when they are taken to court, and only 2 percent of rapists may spend a day behind bars.

The problem is not the untested rape kits it is the fact that women’s bodies as well as their rights are being abused by men and the courts are not holding the men accountable. All that these untested rape kits do is take our focus off the main issue. Not only that, these rape kits violate the rights of the victim who has already been through a traumatic experience and they are almost never useful. The victim may consent but would not be told the total possible consequences that can arise such as evidence that is found such as HIV or DNA from personal relationships that can be used against her in a trial. For those rape test kits that were not tested the victims are more than likely better off.

This article hits a spot with me because I have had seen up close and personal how ineffective rape kits are. I believe that the process of having to go to the hospital and have to explain to multiple healthcare workers why you are there is just adding insult to injury. Sadly this is one of the only options women have and it is mainly ineffective. It is a true understatement that something needs to be done to help rape victims bring their attackers to justice in a way that does not violate their rights.

Lost in translation?

Margaret Huffman 

Lost in Translation?

            The varying interpretations of the Quran and hadiths indicate an occasionally ambiguous or contradictory stance towards women living under Islamic rule.  Leila Ahmed’s book, Women and Gender in Islam, contains a chapter aimed at clarifying the reason for many discrepancies. “The Transitional Age,” or the time after Mohammed’s death and when the hadiths were being transcribed, is the crucial time when “two distinct voices within Islam, and two competing understandings of gender” emerged.[1]       

            Since then, there has been an unending debate on how exactly Islam regards women.  Ahmed asserts that the first Muslim society following the Prophet’s death called for a much more positive position towards women’s rights than the later Abbasid society exhibited toward them.[2]  This is primarily due to differences in interpretation; the Abbasid society’s interpretation of holy dictates reflects their adherence to a more strict system of patriarchy.  The emphasis on patriarchy is congruous with the assumption that as time progressed after Mohammed’s death, women’s rights typically declined. 

            Examples of varying interpretations include the decision to marry girls at young ages and hold concubines.  More specifically, the Surah regarding The Light makes no specific mention of what should be used to cover women’s breasts.  However, an English translation adds the word “veil.”  The struggle of translating from Arabic into other languages is often because of two prominent errors: “addition and subtraction.”[3]  By inserting or omitting words, even the slightest alteration in meaning can be substantial. 

            Translation is a prominent issue in studying Islam.  However, the problem is not unique to Islam.  The same problems affect Christianity.  Varying interpretations may be as broad in nature as the Creation story.  Did God really create the Earth in six days, or was it six much larger units of time as science would suggest?  Christians conduct Communion in numerous ways; discrepancies exist about the proper way to dip the bread in wine (or juice).  Varying methods of interpretation appear to be universal to the monotheistic religions.  The only acceptable reactions are adherence to reliable historical texts and patience with those who may hold a different opinion.   


[1] Leila Ahmed, Women and Gender in Islam  (New Haven, CN: Yale University Press, 1992), 65.

[2] Ibid., 67. 

[3] Bernard Lewis, Islam and the West (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 64.