Saturday, March 25, 2006

'End the Gendercide'

Great article by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born Dutch legislator, who "lives under 24-hour protection because of death threats against her by Islamic radicals since the murder of Theo van Gogh, with whom she made the film 'Submission' about women and Islam."

From the International Herald Tribune, via commondreams:

Women Go 'Missing' by the Millions

As I was preparing for this article, I asked a friend who is Jewish if it was appropriate to use the term "holocaust" to portray the worldwide violence against women. He was startled. But when I read him the figures in a 2004 policy paper published by the Geneva Center for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, he said yes, without hesitation.

One United Nations estimate says from 113 million to 200 million women around the world are demographically "missing." Every year, from 1.5 million to 3 million women and girls lose their lives as a result of gender-based violence or neglect.

How could this possibly be true? Here are some of the factors:

In countries where the birth of a boy is considered a gift and the birth of a girl a curse from the gods, selective abortion and infanticide eliminate female babies.

Young girls die disproportionately from neglect because food and medical attention is given first to brothers, fathers, husbands and sons.

In countries where women are considered the property of men, their fathers and brothers can murder them for choosing their own sexual partners. These are called "honor" killings, though honor has nothing to do with it.


We need a worldwide campaign to reform cultures that permit this kind of crime. Let's start to name them and shame them.

In the past two centuries, those in the West have gradually changed the way they treat women. As a result, the West enjoys greater peace and progress. It is my hope that the third world will embark on this effort. Just as we put an end to slavery, we must end the gendercide.

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