Thursday, March 8, 2012

International Women's Day-We Are so Far From Done

While today we celebrate women and our accomplishments lets not forget our sisters throughout the world who have no opportunity and are kept oppressed simply because they are women:

Honor killings-the right of male members of a family to murder the female members if there is some belief in sexual or societal impropriety. This dishonor may include refusing an arranged marriage, wanting to further your education, wanting to live a more independent life (especially if they are raised in the west), dressing in a western way and being raped.

Gender apartheid-the segregation of women from the mainstream of society. Includes women not being allowed to drive, women not being alloyed to travel without a male member's permission, women not being allowed to attend school. Women being forced to wear  burqas. Women beaten by religious police for not being covered properly. Women being viewed as chattel rather than independent human beings.

Female genital mutilation (fgm)- the surgical procedure whereby the clitoris is removed. In some cases the entire vagina is then sown up with only a small hole to pass urine. This leads to not only maternal death at child birth but infant mortality as well. The reasoning behind it is to remove any sexual desire from the women so she does not dishonor the family.

Forced marriages- young girls as young as 6 or 7 are given in marriage to older men to settle family debts and interfamily disputes. Also there may be agreements by families that two of their offspring will marry. The girl is given no choice and in many cultures this marriage happens right after puberty. Refusal can lead to honor killings.

Rape as a weapon of war (self explanatory)

Lack of education- since in many third world nations each family has to pay for education, even a small sum, girls are not thought of educational material. It costs too much. So most women in in underdeveloped nations cannot read, write nor add and subtract. In some third world nations it is considered anathema to educate girls as well.

Bride burnings- in some areas of the globe if the bride does not produce a son or if her family cannot continue to gift the husband's family throughout the marriage the bride is set on fire by her husband and/or in-laws.

Domestic violence- since women are property of their husbands the husband is allowed to beat them if they do not comply with their wished. This is global in nature. Also domestic violence is also a first world issue and we should not think that it doesn't exist here in the USA.

Lack of access to healthcare (maternal death, infant death, fistulas)- this is the war on women not having to pay for your own condoms. In third world and rural areas, there is such an intense lack of healthcare that maternal and infant mortality rates remain high. Fistulas are rampant and cannot be repaired. A fistula is when the a tear occurs during child birth leaving the woman unable to control her urine flow. This leads to leakage. Because she is then considered unclean she is shunned by her village, divorced by her husband and left to fend for herself. She generally will lose her children because she will have no way to care for them. This is also the outgrowth of fgm.

Gendercide- the use of abortion to abort baby girls. Since in many cultures sons are preferred if the couple finds that the baby is a girl they will abort. While sex-selection abortion is technically illegal in most nations, the families find a way around it. Today in China and in India there is a huge dirth of women. They cay hundreds of thousands of baby girls were not born making for an huge societal imbalance and the resulting chaos to follow for the next generation.

One of the greatest ironies of the United Nations is that some of the most egregious violators of women's rights, like Saudi Arabia, actually sit on the UN Council for the Rights of Women. Luckily there was enough of an uproar that even though Iran was slated for a seat, international pressure stopped their inclusion.

Also read Irshad Manji.

There are many women-run organizations in the third world that concentrate on helping and securing rights for the women in their societies at a huge threat to their own lives. One of the women who runs such an organization was just awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Read HERE.

Below: Intrepid freedom fighter Ayaan Hirsi Ali discusses her views very openly and candidly with a journalist from the Canadian Broadcasting Company. Pay close attention when she starts to discuss today's so-called feminists and their abandonment of Moslem women in the name of cultural relativism and political correctness. As I have stated on numerous occasions these two philosophies are the last refuge of cowards and scoundrels. May God  (even though she doesn't believe in God) protect Ayann Hirsi Ali. Her rational and sane voice is sorely needed in this world today.

Ironically there is never smooth sailing in any culture. Women need to constantly be aware of those that wish to turn back the clock even in some of the most progressive nations on the planet...One such incident, in Israel, garnered international attention when a Jewish ultra-orthodox extremist group attacked school-girls and female soldiers for their dress and for not giving men priority in seating on public buses (I kid you not) in a town called Bet Shemesh. Israel is one of the most progressive nations in women's rights on the planet: three of the four major political parties are headed by women, many cabinet ministers and Knesset members are women (past and present), the former head of the Supreme Court was a woman, numerous generals/officers, corporate executives, lawyers, doctors, accountants, university professors and business owners are women. But still there are problems...

Here is a flashmob in Israel, after attacks on women by some ultra-orthodox in the town of Bet Shemesh ....On Friday, Jan 6th, 2012, a group of 250 women from Bet Shemesh decided to raise their voices against the exclusion of women from the public domain by holding a mass public dance in the city square. The women, residents of the city from all ages and sectors, religious, traditional and secular, gathered together in a flashmob dance, in the city square and started dancing towards a change.

By the way, here are two articles about the War on Women evolving from the  Arab Spring. HERE, HERE

For more information and links to international organizations that help, support and educate women about their rights please go to my blog Liberty's Spirit. One of the my favorite true feminists who consistently writes about discrimination towards women is Dr. Phyllis Chesler. Go HERE for her page.
People are going to ask my why I did not talk about the bruhaha around Rush Limbaugh and his obnoxious statements. Well here goes...Truth be told, misogyny in the USA is not a one way street. Whether it is Limbaugh and his stupid mouth or Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann, MattTaibbi, Chris Mathews  and Ed Shultz using the C**, S***, and T*** words to describe conservative women, for some reason in our society it is considered quite acceptable to use words to violate a woman's humanity. Hillary Clinton caught alot of misogynistic rhetoric herself during her Presidential campaign as well and not just from the right. Seriously how often has someone actually called you a bitch and it wasn't meant as a compliment as I use it in my post "Embracing Your Inner Bitch."

The problem that I see here is that there is no consistency in how women stand up for other women. It is about time that no woman be allowed to be attacked in vulgar tones no matter whether you agree with her politics or not. Shame on the President when he skirted the issue about Maher and using the c*** word to describe Sarah Palin in his news conference yesterday. He happily attacked Limbaugh but that was where it apparently ended. All he had to say was that he rejects any misogyny towards any woman, at anytime and at anyplace, for any reason. That would have been the best legacy for Sascha and Malia. When you allow anyone to use such language to describe any woman it degrades all women.

NOW does have a page called Media Hall of Shame. While the initial blog is still about Limbaugh, read back articles and you well see how they have categorized the insults over time, day by day, year by year. Especially interesting is this one concerning Michelle Bachmann and violent rape fantasies ala Bill Maher's Show.

We've come a long way baby, but you know we still have a long way to go.

Happy International Women's Day..teach your daughters and especially your sons well.

Until next time,