This blog was created as a tribute to women with the courage to stand up for themselves and their rights...those women who refused to be repressed...those women whose deeds have made our lives better. But, I also don't want us to forget those women throughout the world who are still repressed...by their culture, by their husbands, by their families. So, even though this blog will pay homage to those who paved the way for the freedoms that we enjoy today, it is important that we also acknowledge those sisters who continue to suffer from repression and violence.
Yesterday, several teenagers boarded the subway...boys and girls on their way to school. They were a noisy bunch...teasing each other, laughing and playing around...normal and accepted behaviors. And as I sat watching them enjoying their friendships--boy and girl--I wondered if they realized just how lucky they really are...how 'free' they are. It brought to mind an article I read in not too long ago in "The Guardian".
In Turkey, police discovered the body of a 16 year old girl who had been buried alive by relatives in what was called an 'honor killing'....punishment because the girl had talked to boys. She was found in a sitting position with her hands tied...in a hole dug under a chicken coop outside of her home. According to reporters, her father, wasn't happy that his daughter...who is one of 9 children...had several boys as friends...so, she was beaten by her grandfather. The postmortem exam revealed large amounts of soil in her lungs and stomach. Meaning???? The poor child was alive and conscious when she was buried.
And then there is this:
A 13 year old girl was stoned to death in Somalia. Her crime? She was raped. When the child reported this to the authorities, she was accused of adultery and sentenced to death. In front of a stadium of about 1,000 onlookers, she was buried up to her neck, and more than 50 men stoned her to death. The poor girl had been crying and pleading..."Don't kill me, don't kill me."
It makes you mad, doesn't it? And these are only two isolated cases. Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread violations of human rights. It cuts across all the boundaries--culture, race, geography---and takes place at home, in schools, in the workplace. Worldwide, for women and girls ages 16 to 44, violence is a major cause of death and disability.
The above examples are representative of "Honor Killings". It is estimated that as many as 5,000 women and girls are murdered by their families each year in these so-called honor killings...and sadly, these crimes are not only socially sanctioned in many countries, but the killers are usually treated with lenience because they were defending the family honor. Will this end in our lifetime? Probably not. But, it's important that we remember, that we not become too complacent. In the next few days I will be posting some links to organizations which fight for the rights of women.
For now, let us all take a moment of silence to remember our sisters who died simply because they were female. Thank you for letting me share this today.