Reality Check: Women's Rights Around the World

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Living in the United States can blur one’s reality. The world that encompasses the United States seems to be less and less of a priority. In essence many Americans focus on themselves until they are faced with reality. The reality is, there are bad things in this world and we need to fix them. This is not to say that the US is to be put on a pedestal as the US has its own problems even in terms of women’s rights. But there are a lot worse things out there. While women can comfortably walk the streets of America alone, drive, go to school, get a job, vote, and so much more, there are parts of the world where women are forbidden from doing so. So many of us take advantage of these simple rights while others are still fighting for the ability to take control of their own lives.

Some issues women around the world face today include:

Child brides are still an issue. If you are still learning how to read and write you are way too young to be a bride. In many countries it has been a cultural and traditional norm for parents to marry off their young daughters under the age of 18. Many of these girls however, are more than a couple of years under the legalized age. In fact, “Some child brides are as young as eight or nine.” At these ages a woman’s body is not set up for intercourse or child bearing. This then becomes a major cause of death for both the mother and child, “Pregnancy and childbirth complications are among the leading causes of death in girls aged 15 to 19 in low- and middle-income countries.” Countries that still allow this inhumane behavior include: Niger, Central African Republic, Bangladesh, South Sudan, India, Mexico, Brazil, and many more.

Female Gentile Mutilation has been viewed as a practice that is both sacred and traditional to the cultures that are involved. It is often believed that, “In some countries, FGM is a rite of passage, which marks a girl's transition to womanhood and her readiness to marry. It is also motivated by beliefs about sexual behavior and virginity and chastity.” However, this is not a procedure that happens for the mere necessity of medical needs but instead induces harm. Female Gentile Mutilation is viewed as torture in the international community as, “FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. The practice also violates a person's rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.” FGM causes a plethora of unnecessary problems for women.

In Saudi Arabia women are forbidden to drive. The women of Saudi Arabia have had three protests to gain the right to drive. Some women have even started driving as a form of protest. In 2015, two women were arrested and detained for 70 days for driving. This complicates everyday life in terms of transportation to work, to school, to see family, to receive medical attention and so much more.

Often time’s, rape victims are not given the justice they deserve. Many will be ridiculed and exiled from their families and traditions. They will be the ones to be blamed as people will say things like, “Oh she was not dressed modestly enough so she was asking for it”, or “She was dating him, it was his right to her body”. Rape is the invasion of one’s privacy, one’s own private self.  It is horrendous that places such as Saudi Arabia and Morocco will charge the rape victims and allows the perpetrators to get off easily. This often times ruins a young girl’s reputation and life. In some cases, the girl may be excommunicated from the family and forced to leave home. She will be viewed as a dishonor and no longer an asset to the family.

The world is so complex. Everyone has a different way of living life and therefore constitutes different perspectives on how things should be done. However, sometimes things begin to straddle the fine line of dehumanization. Together we can all join together to stop this. 

Most of this information was learned via the Nicholas Kristof documentary, “Half the Sky”. The documentary can be found here.

If you would like to help end these atrocities against women, here are some links:

Girls Not Brides

End FGM European Network

Amnesty International (a general human rights organization)

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