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IT is time the myths of multiculturalism were abandoned. The majority Christian community in Australia must not be coerced into pretending all cultures are equally valid.

Late last year, in Pakistan, a village council decreed five young women be abducted, raped or killed for refusing to honour marriages it ordered to recompense enemies of their family after a murder.

The women, all cousins, were married in absentia by a mullah to illiterate sons of their family's enemies, after the father of one of the girls shot dead a rival. The council also sentenced to death Jehan Nizzi, the father of three of the women, and the fathers of the other two, for refusing to hand over their daughters.

In 2004, a three-year-old girl was betrothed to a 60-year-old man in a similar settlement. These cases, pitting tribal cultures against a group of educated women, led to the Pakistan parliament passing a law banning honour killings and "vani", which is the custom of handing over women to resolve disputes.

The Pakistan Human Rights Commission condemned the barbaric custom of "vani" and called on the Government to enforce the laws, which are widely ignored.

Amna Nizzi, 22, the oldest of the five girls, is studying English literature and hopes to become an English lecturer. Her sister, Abida, 18, hopes to study medicine, and their youngest sister, Sajida, 15, is at school. The other girls, Assi, 20, and 16-year- old Fatima, are the daughters of Mr Nizzi's brothers.

Amna Nizzi said: "It is a great injustice that should be ended. Why should we pay for a crime committed by someone else?

"I am proud of my father. Despite having little money, he has educated us and shown us we must stand up in society and demand our rights."

Mr Nizzi was quite open about the feud: "My brother murdered one of our neighbours after being shot at. But they already insulted us by making indecent remarks to our girls. I have refused to give in to the council's request. I cannot hand over my girls like goats to marry these illiterate boys."

Well, that was in Pakistan. Here, in Australia, a 55-year-old Aboriginal man, over two days, bashed and raped a 14-year-old girl who had been promised to him in marriage under Aboriginal law.

He was sentenced to one month's jail because the judge took tribal customs into account. The sentence, since increased to three years by the Court of Appeal, is in my view totally inadequate.

BUT it is not just "coloured" tribes that have atrocious customs. Many "tribes" in the world are represented in Germany for the World Soccer Cup and thousands of young women will have been trafficked from Europe to work as prostitutes in government-sponsored brothels.

As many as 40,000 women were expected to be added to the 400,000 prostitutes in Germany's sex industry.

German authorities have facilitated the construction of mega- brothels and "sex huts". Cities hosting the games were to issue special permits for street prostitution, creating partnerships with brothel owners, pimps and traffickers.

In Washington DC, dozens of human rights groups and experts in human trafficking gathered to decry the German Government's involvement in the sex trade.

Chris Smith, vice-chairman of the US House of Representatives international relations committee, said: "The sad news is that the German Government is facilitating prostitution and what will be a very significant influx of trafficked women who will be exploited.

"They will be treated as commodities. They will be raped as a direct result of having been trafficked into Germany for the World Cup event."

Mr Smith noted that about 75 per cent of the prostitutes in Germany were foreigners from central European countries. "We know beyond reasonable doubt that so many of these women are coerced and they are there because of force, fraud or, like I say, coercion."

What "tribes" need are enlightened men like Mr Nizzi, who will protect their daughters.




BABETTE FRANCIS is co-ordinator of the Endeavour Forum, a counter- feminist, anti-abortion group



Member Organisation, World Council for Life and Family

NGO in Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC of the UN