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The buying and selling of women for the purpose of prostitution, domestic labour, to settle debts and for forced marriages, usually by families who cannot afford to support them.
2. HONOUR KILLING
Male relatives kill female relatives for a number of reasons: adultery (sex outside of marriage), for seeking divorce, for seeking marriage with an unsuitable partner, for being raped, to camouflage murder, for unsatisfactory dowry received, or inappropriate behaviour with a member of the opposite sex who is not family or spouse. Even the suspicion of dishonour is enough to get you killed. The killing is to reduce the family’s shame. Men traditionally have been subject only to manslaughter charges and are given a sentence of less than three years. If the man proved that he killed in the heat of the moment or in passion, he only got a six month sentence.
3. BARRED FROM SCHOOL
70% of 1 billion illiterate people in the world are women. Two-thirds of the children who drop out of school are girls. Girls are kept home to attend to household matters and often get married off early. When the Taliban took over Afghanistan in 1996, they did not allow any women to go to school for seven years and when the schools reopened in 2004, the majority of women returning to school were in grade one and religious study was their focus.
Girls are held in bondage and are bought, sold and traded to do household labour and submit to sexual relations often with men far older than they are. Children born to this lifestyle become second generation slaves. In some African nations, ie. Mauritania, women thought nothing of being slaves or being beaten regularly.
Female genital mutilation is a cultural ceremony, not a religious one that involves the cutting away of sexual organs of women by other women. It occurs in 28 African nations in addition to some Middle Eastern countries and causes permanent damage to the victims. The only way to stop the practice is through education. Estimated time of effectiveness for changing this cultural habit is 3 generations.
6. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
This includes physical abuse, rape, acid throwing, burning and killing. Acid burns do not kill but result in hideous disfiguration and suffering, destruction of self-esteem and confine women in the home. Sometimes, kerosene is poured on the woman and they are set on fire and the death deemed accidental. This is usually done in patriarchal (male-dominated) societies. In India there is one prison where all the prisoners are mother in laws that have attacked or killed their daughter in laws. Even police continue to use torture in some countries against women to intimidate and harass. Canada was the first country to grant political asylum to women since 1993 if they were subjected to domestic violence in their homeland and could make their way to Canada.
7. SEXUAL ASSAULT/RAPE
Any unwanted sexual act done by one person to another whether within or outside marriage is sexual assault/rape. When committed in the context of war, it is a war crime. Otherwise, it is considered to be a crime against humanity. Gang rape has become so violent, so systemic, so common in eastern Congo that thousands of women are suffering from vaginal fistula (tearing of membranes due to insertion of foreign objects violently in the vagina). Women are left unable to control bodily functions and endure ostracism and the threat of debilitating lifelong health problems. Some patients go through 3 or 4 painful operations each requiring 21 days of bed rest at a cost of $300. per procedure. (Paid for by the USA and international donations). As there is no functioning court system, no one has been punished yet even though one out of three women is a victim of rape and 3.5 million people ave died from disease and starvation.
8. DENIED THE RIGHT TO VOTE
Canadian women allowed to vote in 1917 and American women in 1920. Canadians of Chinese and Japanese origin were prohibited from voting until after WWII. South Africa did not let women vote until 1994. Native Indians were denied the vote in federal elections until 1960. In Pakistan, women recently won the right to vote. However, announcements were made during the last election that voting by women is un-Islamic and women going to polling stations risk having their homes burned down.
9. NO EQUALITY BEFORE THE COURTS
Women’s testimony is not equal to a man in many countries. For example, four male eye witnesses are needed to back up a rape charge in Pakistan. Two women’s testimonies equal one man. Non-Muslim witnesses are not allowed to testify. In Iran, women can go to school and vote but cannot get custody of their children when divorced unless the husband can be proven to be unfit.
10. FEMALE INFANTICIDE
Female children are killed because male children carry on the family name, can perform hard labour, support their family in old age and be in the military. Thus, China in 2003 had 111 million surplus men that could not find a wife in China. Female fetuses are terminated after an ultrasound or the newborn is killed immediately upon birth. China and India has about 93 women born for every 100 men while normal reproduction results in 105 women to 100 men.
Women trail far behind men in literacy in many countries. In Pakistan, female literacy rate are less than 2% in rural areas and no more than 30% in cities. Pakistan has promised literacy for all by 2015 to the UN. When questioned as to how things are coming along, they say that they are “working on it”.
12. JAILING OF WOMEN
40-50% of women in jails are awaiting trial for adultery. Many of them spend months in prisons, again suffering sexual abuse at the hands of the police, and the destruction of their reputation. 80% of all adultery related cases are filed without any supporting evidence in India and Pakistan. Any woman not convicted are vulnerable to an honour killing. 5-7,000 honour killings occur in Pakistan alone.
13. CHILD BRIDES
Girls as young as eight are compelled to wed a distant relative–often two or three times her age to protect their morality, strengthen clan relationships and honour Islam. Medical professionals say that pre-adolescent marriage are partly responsible for Africa’s maternal mortality rates which are among the highest in the world. It is not unusual for mother and child to die during birth. The girls are pulled from school and forced to leave school and become a wife overnight. The real reason the practice is done in many countries in Africa is that families often receive hundreds, even thousands of dollars as dowry. There is also concern that the men who want young child brides are actually pedophiles.
Sometimes plural marriages exist because in poor countries, it makes sense for a man who makes a good living to have more than one wife. In Senegal, 47% of marriages are polygamous. In Islamic faith, a man, under certain conditions can have up to four wives if he can support them.
15. CHILD SOLDIERS
Girls are being trained to fight in conflicts sometimes with babies strapped to their backs. This is seen in Uganda, Sierra Leone and Mozambique in particular. The girls are forced into being sexual partners for the male army officers. The girls who survive or manage to escape face a harsher reality. They are rejected by their villages and forced to flee into the streets of the cities. Governments and international aid agencies are trying to help the girls but how does anyone recover from the psychological effect of having to kill best friends or teachers and then drink water from their skulls?