Tuesday, October 31, 2023

The Globe’s Women’s Problem


By Talia Carner

 (This article was published in Digital Journal in November 2011)

            On November 25, the U.N. again commemorated International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon again urged nations “to help end this pandemic of violence… [in order to] have a more just, peaceful and equitable world.”
            What has changed since 1993 when the U.N. General Assembly adopted resolution 48/104? In 2011, across the globe, women are not only subject to violence, but are still positioned as far inferior to men in every public sphere—political, religious, legal and economic.
            No country is free of “a woman’s problem,” be it full legal rights, maternity care, religious representation, political leadership, education opportunities, or pay equality.
            In South America, under military regimes, poverty is feminized with the highest rate of teenage mothers. In some African nations, maternity death reaches 2,000:1 maternity death in Europe. In the U.S., mothers are disenfranchised and discredited in our courts.
            And what happens in third-world nations stuck in the seventeenth century?
            In the film, The Stoning of Soraya, a man in contemporary Iran wishing to divorce his wife concocts an allegation of infidelity. Using false witnesses in a trial that Soraya is prohibited from attending, she is sentenced to death. As her lower body is buried in the sand, her male relatives and neighbors are her delighted executioners—starting with her own father. The viciousness in which her adolescent son is the first to throw a stone that hits her forehead reflects the misogyny indoctrinated into boys’ minds. It is also linked to global terrorism: Bloodthirsty societies such as Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi-Arabia that are obsessed with women’s bodies’ “purity” are also the countries that produced most terrorists and terrorist acts of the 20th and 21st centuries.
            A child-bride forced into sexual slavery in the Middle East, Asia or South America may dream about fleeing the marriage into which she was sold. But the world outside is more cruel toward an illiterate women. Courageous girls who flee the rice fields of Vietnam or the steppes of Siberia for the promise of jobs abroad, are likely to fall into sex trafficking rings. Every year, one- to two-million girls and women are ensnared into brothels from Berlin to Calcutta.
            The atrocities visited upon women are highlighted in mass rape used as a tool of war. From East Timor to Sierra Leone, wars between nations are won by breaking women, shattering nuclear families, tearing apart villages and wrecking a nation’s spirit. But when people crawl out of the ashes, mores are shattered. In African nations, men expect sex simply by overpowering a female, making gender violence common even in schools.
            Then there is the burning of brides in India, the mass gendercide of girls in China, and clitoridectomy of two million girls a year in Africa and Muslim nations.
            What is the answer for this bleak state of global gender discrimination that results in female misery and death?


            When women are educated, they delay marriage age, have fewer children, seek to educate them, present role models for their daughters and a fresh view of women for their sons.
            When women are educated, their earning capacity increases, they are more likely to start their own business ventures, and have a better chance to pull out of poverty.           
            When women are educated, they help better other women’s and children’s lives, seek leadership roles and run for political offices. They use the Internet to reach beyond their narrow world and begin to resist extreme forms of religious fundamentalism.
            Women are not the problem, but rather than solution. Had society heeded the 1993’s resolutions of eliminating violence against women, women, one-half the world’s population would have helped society double its forward move toward development and prosperity.

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            Author Talia Carner’s most recent award-winning novels often deal with social issues and the plights of women and children. Please check www.TaliaCarner.com .

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