Friday, February 20, 2015

Blog #3 Valentine's Day Has Another Side: Fighting For Freedoms For Women

Valentine's Day Has Another Side: Fighting For Freedoms For Women

Valentine's Day is not only about candy hearts and kisses anymore— at least not for global activists. For them, Feb. 14 is V-Day, the international day of ending violence against women and girls. In 1998, the V-Day movement was created by Eve Ensler (creator, The Vagina Monologues) to tackle the discrimination and abuse that women face. Law, according to many countries’ constitutions, guarantees equality but its not always true. According to Equality Now, there are more than 40 national laws that take these rights away. Some laws allow men to abuse (and/or rape) his wife. Some decide which jobs women are allowed to work, and which they cannot. Some laws still state that women are worth less than men. 

Almost 200 governments met for the U.N. World Conference on Women in 1995 to pledge to revoke all sexist laws. In 2000, the U.N. made gender equality one of the Millennium Development Goals. Not much progress has been made, so activists are asking the public to take action. These are a few examples of the outrageous laws from different countries that Equality Now is campaigning against.  

"In Yemen, a husband is legally entitled to have sex with his wife. "A husband has the right to be obeyed by his wife in the interest of the family ... . She must permit him to have legitimate intercourse with her when she is fit to do so." And in India, "Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape."
In Nigeria, it's not a crime to hit your wife for the purpose of "correcting" her. "Nothing is an offence which does not amount to the infliction of grievous hurt upon any persons which is done: (d) by a husband for the purpose of correcting his wife, such husband and wife being subject to any native law or custom in which such correction is recognized as lawful."
In Egypt, a man who kills his wife over her "act of adultery" will not be punished for murder. "Whoever surprises his wife in the act of adultery and kills her on the spot together with her adulterer-partner shall be punished with detention instead of the penalties prescribed in Articles 234 [unpremeditated murder] and 236 [assault]."
In Malta, a man guilty of abducting a woman is not liable for prosecution if he marries his victim. "If the offender, after abducting a person, shall marry such person, he shall not be liable to prosecution, except on the complaint of the party whose consent ... would be required for the marriage; and if the marriage takes place after the conviction, the penal consequences thereof shall cease and the party convicted shall, upon his application, be forthwith released by order of the court."
In Saudi Arabia, a 1990 fatwa, or religious edict, bans women from driving. "The issue of women's driving of automobiles ... is known [as] a source of undeniable vices ... . It could also lead to committing 'haraam' [taboo] acts.... Thus, the pure 'Shari'a' prohibited all the ways leading to vice... . Women's driving is one of the means leading to that and this is self-evident."
In Iran, a woman can be jailed for not following the Islamic dress code, which includes wearing a hijab. "Women who appear in public without prescribed Islamic dress (hejab-e-shar'i), shall be sentenced to either imprisonment of between 10 days and 2 months or a fine of between 50,000 and 500,000 rials [up to $18 USD]."
In Russia, women are prohibited from doing 456 types of work. Banned activities include operating trains, bulldozers, ships and trucks; working in sewage systems; producing leather; firefighting; and repairing aircraft and ships.
In Madagascar, women are not permitted to work at night. "Women, regardless of age, shall not be employed at night in any industrial establishment of any kind, public or private, secular or religious, nor in any annex of one of these establishments even if these establishments are of a professional or charitable character, except for establishments where the only ones employed therein are members of one same family."
In Guinea, a married woman can only work if she has permission from her husband. "A wife can have a separate profession from that of her husband unless he objects. If the husband's opposition is not justified by the interests of the family, the woman may be authorized by way of law to override it."" 
 (I chose not to use my own wording on the laws and to copy them straight from the article because changing the wording might change interpretation of the law itself.) 

       The fact that some of these “laws” are still intact in certain countries is completely and utterly outrageous. I couldn’t imagine being in the situation of one of these women in these countries (like Yemen, Nigeria, Egypt, Malta, and many others) subjected to legal abuse, rape, and even murder by her spouse. To be told that you're not allowed to work a certain type of job (Russia, Madagascar, Guinea) or drive a car (Saudi Arabia) simply because you are a female, or that you will be jailed for not wearing a piece of clothing (Iran) is blasphemous to me. It must be the ‘privilege’ of being raised in the United States taking over because, I imagine, these women see these rules as a way of life. They accept them as they are, and they don't challenge them (possibly because they are laws against this.) I am glad to see that there are activist groups that are concerned with equality worldwide and not just equality stateside. I am also glad to see that Equality Now doesn't just focus on one realm of equality. 

Andrika Payne

No comments: