I read with interest the front-page story in the December 2 New York Times about the plight of a woman in Afghanistan who was raped and then ordered to marry her rapist. The reporter spoke about this outcome as a "cultural practice," showing "the power of cultural norms," reflecting an "Afghan custom."
All of this is accurate, but incomplete. As a sociologist, I noticed something missing: never once was there any mention that this "cultural practice" is rooted in Islam. Religion, of course, is the most defining element in any culture, and not to cite Islam—and particularly Shariah—is irresponsible. It would be like discussing culture in Ireland or Latin America without mentioning Catholicism.
They even have a Department for Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue in Afghanistan which enforces Shariah laws. The New York Times deserves credit for publishing this story, but it discredits itself when it intentionally omits the root cause of the oppression of women in Afghanistan.