Most of us are so fortunate to live in free and open societies, but many of our sisters around the world are not.
They are bound to second, if not third, class citizenship in their own families, in their own communities and in their countries simply because of their gender. Having lived on four continents now, I have seen this first hand.
Just look at what’s happening in Syria where 3-5 year old little girls are being sold off to be “married” to older men. Married? Community sanctioned pedophilia is what this is. Depraved doesn’t even cut it.
Just look at that degenerate country of Saudi Arabia – a blight on our planet earth – where servant girls brought from Asia are routinely abused in horrific ways and even killed openly. Recently, this government ordered a death penalty on a Filipino servant girl who spoke up about being raped by her “master/owner.” For that, she got beheaded.
It boggles the mind that such barbaric savagery exists in 2019. How many more suffer in brutal silence, I wonder.
It is from this same blighted country that Rahaf Al-Qunun, a brave and intelligent eighteen-year old girl, maneuvered her escape and fled to distance herself from the restrictions of her culture. (Canada did the right thing and welcomed her with open arms. Thank goodness.)
And what about India? It has the temerity to tout itself as the “biggest democracy on earth,” when so many good people are still fighting against forced marriage, child brides, honour killings, female genital mutilation, discrimination based on the caste system, the horrific treatment of the LGBTQ community and transgendered persons, and other abhorrent practices that belong in the stone ages.
The hypocrisy is nauseating.
Girls from Indian communities are pulled out of school to be married off to older men even in our own backyard. But Indians living overseas hate admitting to this and brush them off as “minor issue.” Minor? That certainly demonstrates your priorities.
And it clearly undermines the hard work of your own fellow country people, like the amazing superwoman Dr. Sunitha Krishnan, Urmila Chanam, Kavita Krishnan, Sampat Pal Devi who are trying to right the wrongs for the every day Indian woman.
Take care of your sisters and daughters and teach your sons to respect women first, before claiming to come to the 21st century.
There are mosques and temples around the world and right here in Canada where a woman cannot walk in through the front door which is reserved for men only. The back door and the back of the room is relegated to women. And menstruating women must sit at the very back.
It is preposterous that this backward practice still occurs today. It is so acceptable in Canada now that public schools allow this to happen in prayer rooms in their own premises. School administrations are loath to speak up lest they “offend.”
It is we who should be offended that such dehumanising practices are permitted in our public funded institutions, educational institutions, no less.
Let me be clear, in case you haven’t grasped this concept yet. Whether you tell me to go to the back of the bus or the back of the room based on my race or my gender, the bigotry is same. The ignominy of such an act is the same. The hurt you will mete out on me is one and the same. I say this because I have experienced this and know exactly what it feels like.
That one would treat their own daughters, sisters, mothers, and female neighbours in this way is nothing but shameful.
Rosa Parks, I’m sure, is turning in her grave.
Then, there’s Iran. Women and girls aren’t allowed to leave their homes unless they cover their hair with a headscarf and cover up their arms and legs with loose clothing. The astoundingly courageous and amazing human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh wanted to change this and she was jailed for it. Now, she’s been sentenced to 38 years and 148 lashes. Just for the want of walking free down her own street.
What kind of regressive Neanderthals make such heinous decisions?
And NO, I will not couch my language. Nor will I speak lightly of these matters to make someone from any culture, religion or region “save face” or “feel good.” Neither culture nor political correctness must EVER trump obscene human rights violations such as this.
Your mere discomfort from reading this pales in comparison to the unimaginable pain our sisters around the world go through.
The women who are subjugated to such horrific practices are just like you and me. They could be us. We could be them. We were just lucky to have been born in the right place.
With great privilege, comes great responsibility.
It’s our duty to call out on the abuses our sisters around the world face. It’s time to stop hiding behind our fancy lattes and say “Oh, but it’s racist to talk about other cultures. That’s just the way they are.” That’s not just utter horse manure but an ignorant and abhorrent view to take.
Today, we decry racism with such a sense of superiority and smugness and are quick to throw the race card on the table at a moment’s notice. Yet, we look the other way quickly when the same or even harsher practices are targeted at women.
It is this kind of absurd pussy-footing around serious issues that has allowed Saudi Arabia to become chair the UN women’s rights council (to gain political points elsewhere, of course) in 2017 and again in 2018 and they now sit on the UN’s Human Rights Commission.
Yes, you read that right. The United Nations has become a farce because too many of us are too scared to point these abominations out for worrying of offending another culture. Well, this is the outrageous result.
What all these women around the world simply desire is to live happy and free lives for themselves and their children. All they want is education and economic opportunities that will open amazing doors to them and the next generation of women. They’re no different from you and I.
So, let’s stand up for human rights violations everywhere. For heaven’s sake, is that so hard?
If your culture, your community or your religion treats women as chattel or as second class citizens and demeans and discriminates against them, it’s time to stand up and speak up. Your silence means you are an accomplice to these vile injustices.
Stand up. Speak out. NOW.