We were meeting with my local Amnesty International group, discussing the main lines of action for next year: the official ones and the ones we would also like to tackle. My mother brought up women’s rights and she said she wanted the group to also focus on the slow but certain erosion of these very rights and the plight of women.
It was met with a certain level of agreement but no exactly the concern I was expecting. Nor my mother. It was then commented by one of the member, a retired teacher, a woman, who said she did not want to discuss the issue more than three times. Why there should be a status of limitation when it comes to women’s rights, who know?
I know what my mother did “wrong”. The examples she gave to justify this focus were all happening in France. Nothing about the Third World, about women living in slums or deserts or small villages in a savage, undemocratic world waiting to be civilised by us.
And that was the key problem for this member as she is the typical Westerner when it comes to making the world a better place: she thinks the world should become us, basically. She is fine denouncing every single country as long as they don’t belong to the First World. She cringes and always finds excuses every single time when we try to bring the focus on what our governments and institutions are doing to our freedom or how they abuse poorer countries. She says there are bigger issues, I say she doesn’t understand that charity begins with yourself and one should clean up before their own door before complaining that the neighbour’s should be addressed.
My point is, she felt it was not necessary to dwell of the rights of women, especially in our country. We should focus on what she called “actual problems in our countries”, like the refugees crisis because that is a real problem. People die, you know!
What is it going to take for her and the rest of the world to take women’s rights issues seriously?
Women represent 52% of the world population.
If they are a minority in China and soon in India, due to their short-sighted birth policies, there are countries like Russia or Brazil where they are a strong majority. And yet, their daily burden is worsening. As shown, for instance, by today’s news of men, not only gang-raping a 16-year old girl for wearing “the wrong length of skirt”, but proudly posting pictures of themselves and their crime all over social media, to the glee of hundreds of other men who liked and shared the pictures.
Women are responsible for 70% of the world’s production yet earn only 10% of the total income and own 0.9% of the world’s property.
There are 196 countries in the world and only 15 elected heads of state are women.
About 300 million girls are deprived of the very basic education, which means they cannot even write their names rendering them at the complete mercy of the educated males around them.
And going to school is not always a charm when 60 million girls are sexually assaulted on their way to school every single year.
In Nigeria, when a student gets raped by four other students, including her boyfriend, we only focus on why the woman was alone with four boys to begin with.
India is at a breaking point after decades, if not centuries, of women serfdom and abuse. It is only because Westerners were attacked that we really talked about it.
You think it’s all about shaming the Third World? Let’s have a look at our “civilised” societies then.
In Europe, most monarchies still apply the agnatic-cognatic primogeniture rule, which means that a man will always comes first when it comes to accessing the throne, not matter how many older sisters he has. And in case of strict sorority, the first sister who has a son will become the first in line to the throne, only because she has given birth to the next potential king. What a great message to send if you consider that these dynasties claim they are chosen by God.
In the US, girls are submitted to insane school “decency rules” regarding what they can and cannot wear whereas boys can just walk in wearing…clothes. The opening remark of this video is everything.
In the US, whether it is the Congress, the House of Representatives, the Senate, none of these prestigious institutions shaping the most powerful country in the world can managed more than 20% of women.
In our society, when men are free to be and do whatever they want, women can never win: whatever they do, they say, they look like, it’s never right.
In France, if a woman wears too much, she is frigid or a Muslim (cue derogatory tone) and if she wears too little, she is a whore craving for men to fill her every holes.
The French former ministre de l’économie openly sexually harassed a journalist during a Davos conference prompting female journalists from all over Northern Europe to specifically ask not to be sent to France for the harassment of women has become unbearable. The French female journalists and politicians are now in rebellion against the inherent misogyny of the French masculine elite. A behaviour, these old perverts like to call the “French sauciness” as if it were something we were all born with, should be proud of and nurture.
Every single woman I know has a story of abuse.
My mother who was fondled by older classmates when she was at school. She slapped them just to be told 35 years later than showing some cleavage when you are a HR manager is inappropriate. That happened in France…as we lecture Iran.
My grand-mother who was offered an after-school ride by one of her father’s business partner. A man who then wanted her to show some kind of gratitude. She went out of the car before anything happened, thank God!
A friend of mine who has been living in fear for the past two years after she broke the vicious circle and left a violent man who was cheating on her and abusing her physically and psychologically. He went all the way to punching her boss, causing damage to her and her parents’ properties, threatening her friends to the complete inaction of the police.
This is just the tip of the iceberg.
According to official statistics, 25% of women have, are and will experience domestic abuse in the hands of the one they love. Every minute, in the UK, the police receive a phone call dealing with domestic violence and 81% of the victims are women. On average, a woman was assaulted 35 times before she finds the courage to call the police.
The overview of Europe is pretty much the same. Some countries look bad because they actually consider these numbers when others still stubbornly refuse to acknowledge them.
One in 10 women have experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 15, while one in 20 has been raped.
One in five women have experienced some form of stalking since the age of 15, with 5% having experienced it in the 12 months preceding the survey. However, three out of four stalking cases reported in the survey never come to the attention of the police. And having a name for yourself will not make the police be any more understanding or professional.
Of women in the survey who indicate they have been raped by their current partner, about one third (31%) say they have experienced six or more incidents of rape by their partner.
Just over one in 10 women experienced some form of sexual violence by an adult before they were 15.
These numbers will only tell a partial story as they rely on women’s courage to break the circle of abuse and speak up. Like all these girls and women who don’t exist because they cannot sign their own name, how much abuse “doesn’t exist” because women cannot put words on what they suffer everyday?
On average, in Europe, in every single country, every three days a woman is killed by a current or former partner. If you consider the whole of the UE, that’s 9 women killed every single day.
Remember that, as you are working, eating, walking, cooking, playing or listening to music…As you are living your daily life, 9 woman are suffering, agonising and eventually die of domestic violence. In their own house. By someone they once trusted and loved.
Nine woman. Every day. In the European Union.
As Amnesty International, we are campaigning against oppression, violence, abuse and death penalty. Why, then, can’t we spent more than three days discussing the fate of the people who suffer the most from it?
How many more will have to die for us to finally consider that women are indeed fighting an everyday war and need our help?