01 July, 2010

The World for Women

Good afternoon.

Hope you are having a wonderful Thursday. Only one more day until the three day weekend. I am looking forward to the day off, though I have no idea what I am going to do. I went for an interview this morning to volunteer with an organization helping women who've suffered abuse and sexual assault. They do a myriad of programs. I'm excited (and humbled) to work with them. I have known for a while that working with women who've suffered sexual abuse is where I should be. But it's an intimidating world. It's a world full of cowardice (the men who could beat or rape a woman) and pain and a lot of misunderstanding. 

I am saddened by how often the victims - the women who were raped or abused - are the ones who face the stigma of what's happened. And yet the men get to walk around stigma free, abusing/using women, no consequences. She suffers in silence or is told it's her fault and ostracized from her community. It's the same with prostitution. We blame the women, call them hussies, sluts, whores, say they wanted it. They patrol the streets looking for easy men to prey on, it's not his fault, men can't be expected to control themselves in-front of a short skirt. But in that patriarchal mentality is the issue. 

When i was at Duke a few weeks ago we started talking about the woman at the well. She is dragged out before Jesus for committing adultery. But where is the man? You can't commit adultery alone. We don't know anything before that moment - were they caught together? Did she report a rape and no one believed her? Was her lover in the crowd, holding a stone, ready to end her life for something he participated in? 

In 2008 a 13 year old girl was killed for committing adultery. Or so they said. What really happened? She was raped by three men and when she tried to report it - tried to do the right thing - she was charged as an adulteress and killed. The three men? Well, I doubt anything happened to them. 

This is wrong. This should make you angry. This should make you livid and irate and outraged at the stupidity of that story.

Does it? Does it make you made? Or can you let it go because it happens over there? Somalia is a difficult place, they don't have their act together, of course you would expect that there?


And what if I told you it happens every day in America. Maybe we don't stone people - but the culture of letting perpetrators get away with rape and abuse still remains. Someone told me the other day that she heard of a woman pressing charges for rape. But she had worn a short skirt and flirted with the man, she led him on, kept drinking, so that wasn't rape, it was regret. I bit my tongue and watched her - realizing that mentality is why these crimes are vastly underreported and how, somehow, we can feel sympathy for the attacker and not for the women they hurt. 

Now I will admit that sometimes it's not, sometimes it is regret, sometimes women claim rape or sexual assault or harassment when there isn't any to save face, or pull power or manipulate a situation. And to those women I say stop it. We have worked too hard and overcome too much for you to make it harder for women who were abused to step forward and get the help they need. 

The point?

I take a line from a recent Change.Org blog post:

Thirty years after the first UN treaty on women's rights was adopted, as GlobalPost reports today, millions of cases involving beatings, marital rapes, honor killings and genital mutilation still occur every year. Globally, one in three women have experienced some kind of physical violence. For example, in 2008 in France, nearly 160 women were killed by their husbands or partners. That same year, some 1,000 women were killed in Pakistan in cases of violence against women.

When so much of a village, a country, our world depends on women. When change starts at a home, at a community level, often by women, while men talk and debate, or worse, go around shooting each other. When families live and thrive with mothers... Why are we so quick to turn a blind eye to what happens to them? From abuse in the U.S., to prostitution and trafficking at the World Cup, honor killings in India, and laws that allow marital rape in Afghanistan - isn't it time that women get the respect and support they deserve?