Monday, August 11, 2008

Some Context for Georgia

In case you haven't been following international news recently, serious shit is going down in Georgia. Despite assurances from Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili that "We're not crazy. We have no interest whatsoever in pursuing hostilities," Russia continues to advance. Even aside from the fact that these developments eerily mirror the plot of Ghost Recon, this is scary.

I don't know nearly enough about the conflict, or international politics in general, to make a real judgment on what's going on, who's in the right, whether this will spark World War III, etc. But with Russia dancing on the world stage once again, I do feel it's worth mentioning two small aspects of their social and political culture.

The first: A few weeks ago, a Russian judge threw out what would only have been the third successful sexual harassment case in Russian history on the grounds that – and I quote – "If we had no sexual harassment we would have no children."

As this Telegraph article notes,

Since Soviet times, sexual harassment in Russia has become an accepted part of life in the office, work place and university lecture room.

According to a recent survey, 100 per cent of female professionals said they had been subjected to sexual harassment by their bosses, 32 per cent said they had had intercourse with them at least once and another seven per cent claimed to have been raped.

Eighty per cent of those who participated in the survey said they did not believe it possible to win promotion without engaging in sexual relations with their male superiors.

Women also report that it is common to be browbeaten into sex during job interviews, while female students regularly complain that university professors trade high marks for sexual favours.

Only two women have won sexual harassment cases since the collapse of the Soviet Union, one in 1993 and the other in 1997.

This is almost beyond my comprehension: apparently, shameful sexual harassment is such a dominant part of Russian sexual culture that the courts won't even hear the cases, let alone rule in favor of the womens' rights. One Hundred Percent of professional women.

Again, I lack the context to judge another society's way of life or political/legal decisions. And to be fair, the population of Russia is dropping rapidly, which my most Russian friend argued presents the legal system with problems that we can't even imagine. Maybe eliminating systematic rape would cause catastrophic population decline.

Or, I dunno, maybe it would help their population growth if women weren't universally harassed and categorically discriminated against. Who's to say?

The second piece of context for the Georgian conflict isn't quite as horrifying, but is scary enough in its own right and has more direct bearing on the situation:

Here's the first verse (of the poorly translated English version):
My boyfriend is dumb.
He smokes and is drunk.
My boyfriend is dumber than Powers, Austin.
I told him, "Get Out,"
I need a new boy.
I thought and I know,
He must be like Putin.

1 comment:

  1. Those stats are shocking. And that video is disturbing.

    I'm trying to read more about the war to get more background, if I find useful ones I'll post them later.