Point/Counterpoint pt2

Erin Roof

Women of the world deserve respect

Sometimes I feel like the luckiest woman in the world because I’ve finally found the man of my dreams. Patrick knows exactly how to cheer me up when I’m down … and he’s learned that roses are the perfect way to end an argument. Most importantly, Patrick loves and respects me for the proud feminist I am.

I know I am fortunate to be treated as an equal by my partner. So, this Valentine’s Day, I am remembering all my sisters across the globe for whom equality and respect are far-off ideals.

Fact: At least one in three women and girls in the world has been sexually abused or beaten during her life, according to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.

Women living in Sudan’s Darfur region cannot even cling to basic human rights. The Arab military junta, Janjaweed, has ravaged these women’s lives. Ethnic cleansing in Darfur has killed nearly 400,000 people and displaced more than 1 million.

And where there is war, there is rape. Amnesty International found women and girls as young as 8 being raped and used as sex slaves. The Janjaweed junta can rape 100 women in a single attack. They use rape as a weapon of war — to dehumanize, displace and control women as means of inflicting fear and punishment onto their community.

Unfortunately, rape has no borders. It affects all social classes in every nation — especially our own.

Fact: In the United States a woman is raped every two minutes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The United States has one of the highest rape rates in the world. Among college-aged women, one out of every five acknowledges being raped. One out of five! These are the women you sit next to in class and the women you pass on the sidewalk. These are the women who fight the subjugation of stigma, who endure in silence to avoid the label of being a “rape victim.”

In Pakistan, women are jailed for filing rape charges. Women fight to survive inside Pakistan’s system of patriarchy where no domestic violence laws exist. Hundreds of women are disfigured every year by their husbands as punishment. A common method is burning them with kerosene or acid.

Many cultures expect women to be willingly disfigured.

Fact: About 135 million women and girls have undergone genital mutilation, according to Amnesty International.

Female genital mutilation is practiced in 28 African nations and parts of the Middle East. Girls ages 4 to 8 must complete the mutilation ceremony, which includes removal of all or part of the clitoris and labia, to be considered a complete woman. The procedure is believed to reduce women’s desire for sex thus lowering their chances of having relations outside marriage, while increasing men’s sexual pleasure.

Fact: We need to stop this cycle of abuse now.

Today I stand in solidarity with the women of the world with hope we can work to make this a safer place for women. With hope we can make this a world of equality. With hope we can end the system of patriarchy.

Today, I imagine casting off all the scars and all the shame into the past and building a future for women.

Erin Roof is junior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].