Monday 5 April 2010

"Culture" vs. law enforcement

Just came across a "context analysis" for an African country. In its short section on education - tiny compared to the ample deliberations on economic opportunities - the text claims that "cultural factors leading to early marriage and pregnancy" keep girls out of schools.

This is the first time I read pregnancies are caused by culture! I always thought they had to do with sexual intercourse, wanted or unwanted, and lack of appropriate contraception. And I used to believe that early marriage, prohibited in most countries nowadays, had to do with poor law enforcement, with the youngsters' burning desire to escape violence suffered at the hands of their own parents and to live their own sexuality, with economic constraints and yes, with practices that turn women into mere objects of exchange. All those acts are not carried out by some ominous monster called Culture, but by reasonably autonomous persons who make deliberate decisions.

I am so tired of hearing "those guys have a culture problem". No-one blames "Christian Culture" for massive child abuse perpetrated by priests and other church personnel - decades of crimes that the media only just started talking about. If a person does harm to another person, then it is the perpetrator who should be held responsible. After that, you can start thinking what favoured his crime, or what made that it was not punished. But first, make sure no-one gets a free ride.

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