Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Women (Females) in Crisis

There is something universally fundamental to the phenomenon of the wanton destruction of the females of our species. I do not believe the practice of 'infanticide' is widely practiced by Muslims. In fact, reading early accounts of Islam, Muhammed may have put a stop to the practice in his part of the world. Gendercide, that's another story. The so-called 'honor killings' of family females is certainly an accepted practice across a wide spectrum Islamic countries, with the justification that the actions on the part of some female in the family has brought 'dishonor' to the family name. The genocide that took place in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Croatia in the 1990's, targeted Muslim men and boys of fighting age. That was essentially a political wartime decision, and such decisions are not without precedent as can be seen throughout history. These kinds of gendercide are usually of short, brutal duration.

But in certain Asian countries, infanticide is most certainly a widely accepted practice, and has been part of the culture of China and India for centuries. And most often the mothers themselves are the perpetrators, or willing participants in killing their own baby girls, to whom they gave birth, and there is a wide level of acceptance by these societies of such practices. Why?

It's so easy to ask 'why?' I only ask the question as a point of departure. There are no easy answers. I have other questions, as well. Why, over the ages, has there been no self-correcting moral counter to the practice of killing baby girls? The birth of a baby daughter is still so dreaded today in many cultures, and considered a painful burden. Though there are no easy answers, the questions must be asked.

But this series will not be about male-bashing, either. In this whole business regarding women's rights, women's freedom and the killing of babies, from a moral point of view, the women involved are rarely the innocent victim, either. Nor am I about to start pointing fingers. This is not an attack on Islam, per se. As Dennis Prager points out, there is religion, and then there are the practioners of religion. Just trying to frame this in a way that makes the most sense to me. Ideally, the information will be loosely framed within a moral equation based on the notion that unless clear moral lines between free societies and fear societies are drawn, the result will simply be another moral quagmire (a notion that Natan Sharansky puts forward in an interview with Jamie Glaznov in Front Page Mag in Dec, 2004). That is, free societies produce peace and good; repressive, totalitarian societies produce fear and evil.

That said, I realize I may have painted myself in a corner. Is this series talking about infanticide, or about gendercide, or about Islamic fanaticism? Actually, I will try to raise this to a different level and talk about the spiritual interplay between men and women, as I believe that is where the problems lie. I hope I haven't bitten off more than I can chew, which wouldn't be unusual for me. When I started out with this women in bondage theme, I had not planned to go into the whole infanticide phenomenon. But several stats kept jumping out at me, like the 100 million to 300 million women who statistically are unaccounted for, by the UN demographers, at any rate. This figure is disputed, but if it is even wildly close to being accurate, something is terribly amiss in the world. And I think light needs to be let in.

Alright, enough of my rambling. One aim of this blog is to give tribute to the true fighters for freedom everywhere. In scouting out who is actually taking a stand against the Totalitarian Wahhabi notion of Islam, one discovers that among the most vocal, most articulate are in fact women. It is they who have begun to stand up to the enforced servitude, to reject the bitter pill of debasement, distrust, derision and death and are the true warriors of today; these women risk all to speak out against Islam which, as it is being increasingly practiced, crushes the woman's spirit.

One such remarkable woman, Ayaan Hirsi Ali explores some of the factors.

Women and 'gendercide'

Worldwide, at least 113 million women are 'missing.'
By Ayaan Hirsi Ali
April 04, 2006 CS Monitor

AMSTERDAM – As I was preparing for this article, I asked a very good friend who is Jewish if it was appropriate for me 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 Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, he said yes, without hesitation.
One United Nations estimate says that between 113 million and 200 million women around the world are "missing." Every year, between 1.5 million and 3 million women and girls lose their lives as a result of gender-based violence or neglect. As the Economist, which reported on the policy paper, put it last November, "Every two to four years the world looks away from a victim count on the scale of Hitler's Holocaust." How could this possibly be true?

Here are some of the factors:

• In countries where the birth of a boy is preferred, selective abortion and infanticide eliminate female babies.

• Young girls die disproportionately from neglect because food and medical attention is given first to males.

• In countries where women are considered the property of men, their fathers and brothers can murder them for choosing their own sexual partners.

• The brutal international sex trade kills uncounted numbers of girls.

• Domestic violence is a major reason for the deaths of women in every country.

• Six thousand girls undergo genital mutilation every day, according to the World Health Organization. Many die, and others live the rest of their lives in crippling pain. All these figures are estimates; registering precise numbers for violence against women is not a priority in most countries. It is comfortable for us to ignore these issues, especially when the problems are so widespread and for many, so far away. And by "us," I include women. Going forward there are three challenges: Women are not organized or united. Those of us in rich countries, who have attained equality under the law, need to mobilize to assist our fellows. Only our political pressure can lead to change. Next, there are the forces of obscurantism that want to close the world off. The Islamists are engaged in reviving and spreading a brutal and retrograde body of laws. Wherever the Islamists implement sharia, or Islamic law, women are hounded from the public arena, denied education, and forced into a life of domestic slavery.

Lastly, cultural and moral relativists sap our sense of moral outrage by defending the position that human rights are a Western invention. Men who abuse women rarely fail to use the vocabulary the relativists have kindly provided them. They claim the right to adhere to an alternative set of values - an "Asian," "African" or "Islamic" approach to human rights. This mind-set needs to be broken. A culture that carves the genitals of young girls, hobbles their minds, and justifies their physical oppression is not equal to a culture that believes women have the same rights as men.

Three initial steps could be taken by world leaders to begin eradicating the mass murder of women.

A tribunal like the International Court of Justice in The Hague should look for the 113 million to 200 million women and girls who are missing.

A serious international effort must urgently be made to precisely register violence against girls and women, country by country.

And we need a worldwide campaign to reform cultures that permit this kind of crime.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."

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born Dutch legislator, lives under 24-hour protection because of death threats against her by Islamic radicals since the murder of director Theo van Gogh, with whom she made the film "Submission."