Lately we have all been hearing the term “War on Women” quite a bit thanks to our media and friends in the Oval Office. As a result, I thought it might be a good idea to interject some reason into this dialogue and share with my readers some examples where there IS in fact an ACTUAL war on women throughout the world EVERYDAY. I was hoping that sharing these examples with your friends, family and co-workers who are concerned about the GOP in this country might create a little perspective.
- Pakistan-Many women in Pakistan have been forced into marriages by a custom known as “vani” by which a bride is said to make up for the perceived affronts of their male relatives by marrying the affronted males and essentially serving as their slaves for life. Young women are resorting to self-immolation to avoid these types of marriages across the region due to the lack of government interest in actually upholding a new ban on these customs.[i]
- Afghanistan-Human Rights Watch released a report this past Wednesday detailing how Afghan women are being arrested for “moral crimes” such as leaving abusive husbands, fleeing child marriages and for being kidnapped and raped by their captors. The practice is so prevalent that there are approximately 400 women imprisoned in the country for these “crimes”-this is approximately half of the country’s population. That is right; imagine 50% of America imprisoned on “moral crimes”. It boggles the mind, doesn’t it? All this after President Karzai passed the “Law of the Elimination of Violence Against Women” which sought to ban underage marriages, domestic violence, rape and other crimes against the female population of the country in 2009. Due to their “damaging” the family’s honor, they are frequently cast out after being released from prison and live in squalid poverty with their children.[ii]
- Saudi Arabia-Women are not permitted to drive in this country, or to leave their homes without a male family member as an escort. They cannot leave the country without the permission of those same male relatives.[iii]
- Iran-Women in Iran have been campaigning for human rights since the country’s Islamic Revolution in the 1970’s. Since them women’s rights activists have been beaten, harassed, and have had their internationally recognized civil rights violated by the government and courts. Bail for these women has been extraordinarily high, forcing them to stay confined in many cases. Some have been denied counsel and others have been abused in an effort to get them to confess to trumped up charges. Under President Ahmadinejad the status of Iran’s female population has declined greatly. “Morality police” are empowered to kidnap women off the street for not being attired in suitable Islamic dress, laws reducing the marriageable age to 13 and increased death sentences (by hanging or stoning) are all stark realities facing Iran’s women in 2012.[iv]
- Syria-Women in Bashir Al Assad’s Syria also face many challenges. The high numbers of domestic servants who are imported from other countries, many poor nations, are faced with exploitation and abuse by their employers. In 2010 Syria amended its penal code to implement a mandatory two year sentence for “honor crimes”. Women also face discrimination in areas of family law-for instance a Syrian woman cannot pass her nationality on to her children, while Syrian men are allowed to do so. What harm can that do, you ask? If a man fathers a child while married to a Syrian woman and divorces her he leaves his child without a country leaving that child without a nation upon his departure. Shariah law also dictates the outcome of family law matters in most cases, which leaves women at a huge disadvantage when it comes to custody and other issues related to divorce. A man can divorce his wife by simply uttering “I divorce you” three times in a row while women seeking nullification of a marriage faces a minimum of two years of legal hurdles in Syrian courts. [v]
All in all, with this perspective I doubt many would continue to argue that the GOP TRULY has a “War on Women”. After all, even in states governed by majority GOP representation (like Arizona) still permit women to drive, leave their homes without a male escort and seek justice in our courts in the same manner as her male counterparts. So, I hope gentle readers, that this small peek into where the “War on Women” IS real helps you to educate those you meet who feel that the GOP in this country is female hostile. Good night and good luck!