Given the concern of readers expressed via “Contact Us” over gender crimes, persecution and inequality on the planet, and given our expressed intention to end these unworkable conditions by January 1, 2015, (1) I’d like to review some of the circumstances that exist for women today from a human-rights perspective.
I respect the intention of some readers to concentrate on Ascension and not focus on unworkability. For those readers in that position, I request that you not read this post. Please be responsible for your participation or non-participation. The job will get done no matter what.
Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come. (2)
This list is meant simply as a a starting point for discussion and is by no means exhaustive. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
Setting the deadline that I did was done in the expectation that the Reval would occur much earlier in the year that it has. Once the Reval occurs, work in this area will begin in earnest.
Nevertheless I believe it best to keep to that deadline and retarget if necessary rather than amend the deadline now and throw off the coordination of work in the area. Deadlines are necessary to coordinate work underway.
It doesn’t work to say that we’ll end an unworkable condition “one day, some day.” It does work to set a deadline, to make coordination of efforts possible.
With that as preamble, I’d like to discuss the ways in which women are suppressed and subordinated in the world, which at this moment contains more unworkability than would allow for peace, aliveness, satisfaction and full self-expression.
Words in italics are mine.
Rights (such as freedom from unlawful imprisonment, torture, and execution) regarded as belonging fundamentally to all persons.
Among the complex social and cultural reasons … for son preference, no doubt the most compelling is the economically crippling system of dowry. Dowry stems from the early concept of stri dana in which gifts –usually jewelry, including often a quarter pound of gold–was given to the bride by her family, in order to secure some personal wealth for her when she married. This jewelry remained her personal property throughout the marriage, providing some security in case of her husband’s death or other calamity. (3)
A forced abortion may occur when the perpetrator causes abortion by force, threat or coercion, or by taking advantage of woman’s incapability to give her consent. This may also include the instances when the conduct was neither justified by medical or hospital treatment. (4)
The one-child policy has been blamed for upholding the traditional bias for male offspring, especially in rural areas, and triggering a surge in selective abortion, child trafficking and killing of female infants. (5)
Destruction or abortion of a female fetus in the uterus out of boy preference.
Female infanticide is the intentional killing of baby girls due to the preference for male babies and from the low value associated with the birth of females.” (6)
Infanticide usually takes the form of exposure.
Female Genital Mutilation
FGM refers to several types of deeply-rooted traditional cutting operations performed on women and girls. Often part of fertility or coming-of-age rituals, FGM is sometimes justified as a way to ensure chastity and genital ‘purity.’ (7)
The practice of early marriage is prevalent throughout the world, especially in Africa and South Asia. This is a form of sexual violence, since young girls are often forced into the marriage and into sexual relations, which jeopardizes their health, raises their risk of exposure to HIV/AIDS and limits their chance of attending school. (8)
Child marriage, defined as a formal marriage or informal union before age 18, is a reality for both boys and girls, although girls are disproportionately the most affected. (9)
Forced marriage is a marriage in which one or both of the parties is married without his or her consent or against his or her will. A forced marriage differs from an arranged marriage, in which both parties consent to the assistance of their parents or a third party (such as a matchmaker) in identifying a spouse, although the difference between the two may be indistinct. (10)
Compulsory sterilization, also known as forced sterilization, programs are government policies which attempt to force people to undergo surgical sterilization. In the first half of the 20th century, several such programs were instituted in countries around the world, usually as part of eugenics programs intended to prevent the reproduction and multiplication of members of the population considered to be carriers of defective genetic traits. (11)
In China, forced sterilization is resorted to to maintain a “one-child policy.”
Bride kidnapping, also known as marriage by abduction or marriage by capture, is a practice in which a man abducts the woman he wishes to marry. (12)
Holiday wives are brides, usually in India, who marry foreigners, often after knowing them only a short time, on the expectation they will be sent for. They seldom are.
Acid throwing, also called an acid attack, a vitriol attack or vitriolage, is a form of violent assault defined as the act of throwing acid or a similarly corrosive substance onto the body of another “with the intention to disfigure, maim, torture, or kill.” Perpetrators of these attacks throw acid at their victims, usually at their faces, burning them, and damaging skin tissue, often exposing and sometimes dissolving the bones. …
The long term consequences of these attacks may include blindness, as well as permanent scarring of the face and body, along with far-reaching social, psychological, and economic difficulties. (13)
Acid attacks are usually committed by rejected suitors.
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration initiated against one or more individuals without the consent of those individuals. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or against a person who is incapable of valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, or below the legal age of consent. The term rape is sometimes used interchangeably with the term sexual assault. (14)
Forms of rape include date rape, custodial rape, mass rape, and rape as a weapon of war.
Sexual slavery is the slavery of unwilling people for sexual exploitation. (15)
‘Honor killing’ is an ancient practice in which men kill female relatives in the name of family ‘honor’ for forced or suspected sexual activity outside marriage, even when they have been victims of rape. Reports indicate that offenders are often under 18 and that in their communities they are sometimes treated as heroes. (16)
Bride Burnings/Dowry Deaths
Dowry murder is a brutal practice involving a woman being killed by her husband or in-laws because her family is unable to meet their demands for her dowry — a payment made to a woman’s in-laws upon her engagement or marriage as a gift to her new family. It is not uncommon for dowries to exceed a family’s annual income.
While cultures throughout the world have dowries or analogous payments, dowry murder occurs predominantly in South Asia. (17)
In many instances, the wife is killed because her family will not meet repeated and increasing demands for more dowry. Dowry deaths are often masked as kitchen fires.
Stoning for Adultery
A form of capital punishment in which the criminal is pelted with stones until dead.
While women are stoned for adultery in some countries, men usually are not.
Girls can be executed for simply talking to boys:
“A 16-year-old Turkish girl was buried alive by relatives as a punishment for talking to boys, the Hurriyet newspaper reported on Thursday.
“Police discovered the body of the girl, identified only as M.M., in a sitting position with her hands tied, in a two-meter-deep hole dug under a chicken pen outside her house in Kahta in the southeastern province of Adiyaman, the Turkish daily reported on its website.
“The body was found in December, around 40 days after M.M. went missing. Police have arrested and charged the girl’s father and grandfather over the murder. The father reportedly said in his testimony that the family was unhappy his daughter had male friends. Her mother was also arrested but later released.” (18)
Refugee law is not consistent or uniform in the world. The worst case of rape I heard, as a refugee adjudicator with the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, was that of a Russian woman who was used as a sexual plaything by the Chechen mafia.
She was refused admittance to other western countries because what happened to her was viewed as a crime rather than persecution.
However Canadian refugee law contains “Gender Guidelines,” which state that a crime perpetrated against a person because of fixed traits such as gender is persecution and the woman was permitted to stay in Canada. It amazes me that our view of persecution can itself be gender-insensitive.
(1) “A Global Call for an End to Gender Persecution by January 1, 2015” at http://goldenageofgaia.com/building-nova-earth-toward-a-world-that-works-for-everyone/ending-gender-persecution/a-global-call-for-an-end-to-gender-persecution-by-january-1-2015/.
(2) “All the forces in the world are not as powerful as an idea whose time has come.” Werner Erhard, The End of Starvation: Creating an Idea Whose Time has Come. San Francisco: The Hunger Project, n.d., 20.
(3) V.G. Julie Rajan, “Will India’s Ban on Prenatal Sex Determination Slow Abortion of Girls?” Hinduism Today, downloaded from http://www.hinduwomen.org/issues/infanticide.htm, 2 Nov. 2006.
(5) ”China restates hard line on baby trafficking,” New York Times, 15 July 2004.
(6) Marina Porras, Female Infanticide and Foeticide.(14) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_slavery.
(7) “Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)” from UNIFEM, Violence Against Women – Facts and Figures, 16 Feb. 2007, downloaded from http://unifem.org/attachments/gender_issues/violence_against_women/facts_figures_violence_against_women_200611.pdf.
(8) “Early Marriage” from UNIFEM, Violence Against Women – Facts and Figures. Downloaded from http://unifem.org/attachments/gender_issues/violence_against_women/facts_figures_violence_against_women_200611.pdf, 16 Feb. 2007.
(17) ”Dowry Murder” from UNIFEM, Violence Against Women – Facts and Figures. Downloaded from http://unifem.org/attachments/gender_issues/violence_against_women/facts_figures_violence_against_women_200611.pdf, 16 Feb. 2007.