Archives for posts with tag: abuse of women

So its a Sunday afternoon, and I find myself pondering what it means to be family. I know my own is probably considered dysfunctional and I am so glad my daughters seem to be doing so well academically, socially, and physically.

With these little angels I find it difficult to hold back and avoid filling their heads with my own ideas about life; I want them to decide for themselves what they think, what they believe, what is right or wrong. But I do try to instill a deep sense of loyalty in them for each other. Frankly, and despite my continuing love for them and my hope that they will always love me,I could care less what they think of me or their mothers, or anyone else for that matter, because at the end of the day they will have each other for much longer than I will be around. They fight and play, they attack each other but always come to each others defense against any outsider. Even me. If I so much as scare one of them (as often happens after we’ve watched zombie movies together) and chase her around the house, the other two are likely to jump on my back and begin punching me in the face, putting me to sleep with a blood choke, and making me regret all the grappling and boxing I put them in.

With such beautiful and independent minds as theirs, I strained to find a simple but complete philosophy-a mantra if you will-something that they could repeat and understand everyday, and something that with time they could understand every part of it in a deeper sense. Something that would not be controversial, or indoctrinating, something that leaves them free to form their own ideas and still be good, happy girls:

-Be Nice
-Be Smart
-Be Strong

From The Golden Rule, to humanitarian work, to being diplomatic in a conflict between friends, to being the one to invite the underdog to your cafeteria table, its all there in two words: be nice.

Intellectually expand your mind. Academically achieve. Think about and evaluate claims, decisions, stories, and information. Know what to do in a crisis or at a dinner party. All of that is encompassed in these two words: be smart

Have confidence in yourself; know your limits and exceed them. Physical, mental, and emotional fitness are critical to your overall well-being. That and so much more can be understood in these two words: be strong

Our children are our most precious resource and I doubt that any of us always treats them as such. I sincerely hope that we can leave them in a better state then we have found ourselves and give them the power to make the world a better place for themselves, for others, and for future generations.

It is common to see an article related to women’s rights, or a lack there of, in the news and rss feeds today; so-called “honor” killings, female genital mutilation, sex trafficking, and child marriage are all common place in regions such as the Middle East, Africa, Southern Asia and Eastern Europe. Some of these horrible crimes are also prevalent within Central and South America along with the heinous crime of rape, incest and child molestation. Often such crimes are kept quiet or swept under the family rug.

Even in developed nations there are individuals and groups of people that still adhere to such “traditions” as if their beliefs gave them rights over the law. It is pitiful to see such prevalence of abuse of women and girls and the detrimental effect it has on entire societies and nations. Time and again a key factor in the advancement of a nation or its people depends so much on the status of women and girls within that society. Or one could say that a key indicator of an advancing nation or an advanced nation is the status of women and girls within it.

But within states where the subjugation of women is written into law as it is practiced, how often do we make an excuse such as that it is their “culture” or “religion” or “tradition” or simply “their country”? Is it really the choice of the women and girls involved in such practices? The answer is a resounding NO. There are so many movements and so many causes that we do not give direct support to, that fight for the emancipation and equal rights of the female sex within these cultures and societies. Only recently has there been a focus on law enforcement against sex trafficking and a much needed increase in funding to fight the traffickers in some parts of the world. Thanks to heroes, such as Siddharth Kara whose efforts to expose the prevalence and weaknesses of the sex trafficking business, I believe, have been vital to combating it.

What about the “honor” killings, the lack of education, and child marriage when it comes to young girls? Why would we support nations that make allowances for, or barely prosecute men who would kill or imprison a woman for the “crime” of being gang raped? I believe that we, the citizens of the developed world, have as much an obligation to promote and fight for the freedom of all women, not just all men.

This is one of the reasons I served in the military, and fought in Afghanistan; the freedom of women throughout the region and the world should be considered as noble a cause for intervention as the freedom of ethnicities and tribes from the oppression of a regime. If we have stood idly by as millions of women have been brutalized in the name of culture or religion and yet supported small militant groups of the marginalized minorities in the name of freedom, then I am ashamed.

So often I look at what we have sacrificed for so many years and yet the same horrible abuses of women and girls goes on. Many of these abuses or even a secondary status for women are written into the laws even of the very countries that we went to free from “oppression.” We cannot allow ourselves the excuse that it is their culture any more than abolitionists of mid 19th century America could make the excuse that it was the culture of the plantation owners to keep slaves.

It has been shown time and again that for a country, a society or a people to advance, women and girls must be given equal status, control over their bodies, access to education, and must be protected under the law from the abuses of men and the “cultures” that would enslave them.