World of hurt
Stunning — and very heartening — reaction to today's treeware column, about the global war on women. It pretty much speaks for itself, although space limits restricted my including many facts, figures and other details. So, I will reproduce it here almost in full, with some links for those inclined to get further information.
Ever since I started writing this column 15 months ago, switching over from the media beat, I have been immersing myself in so-called women's issues, everything from reproductive freedom to pay equity.
Women face social, cultural and economic pressures — some self-inflicted, I admit — that men don't. Sexual assault and cosmetic surgery, domestic violence and daycare, they're all related. They all affect how we can make our way, with or without partners and/or children.
My misogynistic hate-mailers, and, believe me, they are legion, are terrified that, as women progress from the kitchen, nursery and bedroom to the college faculty, newsroom and boardroom, men will lose what little power they have over their little corner of their very narrow world view.
I wonder, would they like to bash us back to the Stone Age?
Which isn't all that far away, as a sickening report released last week by the Christian humanitarian organization World Vision shows.
"Before She's Ready: Fifteen Places Girls Marry by 15" is a sickening indictment of patriarchal countries — which number far more than 15, by the way — where 10-year-olds are sold off to men three, four, five and six times their age, and are pregnant as soon as they hit puberty.
It doesn't take a med school scholarship to figure out that a 13-year-old body isn't
notyet ready to deliver a healthy baby. According to World Vision, as many as one in four infants doesn't make it. And, as other reports, from the United Nations and other organizations, every minute of every day — that's 500,000 a year — a woman dies in childbirth.
As for those girls who survive, well, needless to say, life is not a bed of roses. Not only do they have to feed and care for these children, haul water and dodge rapists, many of them, their young bodies traumatized by their maternal labours, are torn apart, resulting in an obstetric fistula that leaves them unable to control their urination and defecation.
That's when their husbands cast them aside and move on to other girls.
This goes on all the time. All the time.
And yet the Vatican prohibits contraception, which would not only scale back this gendercide, but also result in lower rates of HIV infections, less suffering and more sturdy children.
And let's not even get into how some chiefly Islamic societies treat their girls.
[We interrupt this blog post to say that, for those who wrote to complain about my dragging the Pope into this, one of the 15 countries on the World Vision list is Nicaragua, where it's a lousy place to be a woman lately. Honduras is not far behind. I wouldn't want to be in Rwanda either.]
This summer in Pakistan, three teenage girls were reportedly buried alive by their male relatives, while the mother of one and aunt of another were shot as they begged their men to stop, because the girls defied their fathers over their choice of husbands.
The savagery directed at women is so routine, it gets scarce notice in the Western media.
But what a world of difference it would make to all of us if only all these girls were given a chance — to read and write, to be child-free, to start businesses or otherwise earn a paycheque.
The Girl Effect, a research organization supported by the Nike Foundation, reports that, when a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
Multiply that by 600 million girls who live in the developing world and that's more than a billion fewer babies that this planet cannot afford anyway.
This is why I laugh at the "war on terror."
The real threat is the war on women.
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