The Sin of Being Female

I am passionate about making the world a better place – one article at a time. When I’m faced with an injustice, disaster or other issue that I can raise awareness of through an article – I’m all over it. This is one way I can DO something to help.

Through my work with a non-profit working internationally, I’ve done a lot of research into the plight of women worldwide. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to know how women suffer around the world, and their only fault is being born female.

And I know what you’re thinking – but that doesn’t happen in the USA or Canada. Really? I think you’d be surprised – I think many of us have chosen to remain ignorant of the facts. Because if you knew the reality, the brutality, the inequality – wouldn’t you then have to do something about it?

It’s not that bad…

Place a photo of a woman in your life you care deeply for – your wife, daughter, niece, mother or sister, next to your computer. Go ahead, do it. If you’re a woman perhaps these statistics won’t be so surprising – perhaps like me you are one of these statistics – perhaps she is or was herself, but really focus on the face in the photo. Imagine what she’s worth – what she brings to this world – does she deserve fewer opportunities, rights, freedoms, and status?

Women are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war combined. (womenforwomen.org)

Between 20 and 50 per cent of women have experienced physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner or family member. (UNICEF)

Estimates show that 1 in every 3 women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. (United Nations)

Two million girls between ages 5 and 15 are introduced into the commercial sex market each year.
Every day, more than 10 girls are murdered by their own families, victims of ‘honour killings’ for perceived sexual misconduct or the ‘dishonour’ of having been raped. (UNFPA)

Girls as young as 13 (mainly from Asia and Eastern Europe) are trafficked as “mail-order brides.” (UNICEF)

Women still represent two-thirds of the world’s 759 million illiterates. (UNESCO)

pregnant bellyEvery day more than 1000 women die from complications of pregnancy. For every woman who dies, 20 or more are injured or disabled. (UNFPA)

Between 100 and 140 million girls and women worldwide have been subjected to female genital mutilation… 91.5 million girls and women above 9 years old in Africa are currently living with the consequences of female genital mutilation… 3 million girls in Africa at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation every year. (WHO)

One woman kills herself every four minutes in China. Every year, 1.5 million Chinese women attempt suicide, with another 150,000 succeed in taking their own lives. [Women in China are 25% more likely to commit suicide than men] (China Facts)

In India the nation’s sex ratio had dropped over the past decade from 927 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of 6 to 914…Such ratios are the result of abortions of female fetuses, or just sheer neglect leading to a higher death rate among girls. (Yahoo.com)

And lest you brush these numbers off as being skewed by third world countries – here’s some from closer to [my] home:

According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, approximately 600 to 800 women and children are trafficked into Canada each year…Girls as young as 12 years old are being subjected to sexual exploitation by traffickers in Canada. (ECPAT)

Half of Canadian women have survived at least one incident of sexual or physical violence…Over a quarter (29%) of Canadian women have been assaulted by a spouse…A minimum of one million Canadian children have witnessed violence against their mothers by their fathers or father figures. In 52% of these cases, the mother feared for her life, and in 61%, the mother sustained physical injuries…40% of women with disabilities have been raped, abused or assaulted (CRIAW)

One out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime…Intimate partner violence is the leading cause of injury to women. It affects 1-3 million women a year in the U.S., making it more common than muggings, stranger rapes and car accidents combined. (Department of Health)

Now what?

Now it’s up to you. Find a local women’s shelter and donate your time, money or used clothing – make it a family project. Write an article. Post on Facebook, Twitter or G+ to raise awareness. Let’s pledge to teach our sons how to treat women respectfully, let’s teach our daughters to never settle for less than that. Find a non-profit or charity whose work you support and donate your time, money, or Facebook page. Most of all – don’t go about the rest of your day without thinking about the face in that photo. Is she worthy of respect, freedom, equality – life?

wounded heart“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” Bishop Desmund Tutu

What can you do to help? Do these numbers surprise you? Now what?

I’m on Twitter and G+, but I hang out on Facebook – would love to chat :) I post great writing links everyday on the Girls With Pens Facebook page, or you can subscribe to my profile here.

Lisa


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22 comments on “The Sin of Being Female

  1. Wow. I knew a lot of those statistics, but to see them all together like that makes them even more frightening. I love what you said at the end about teaching our sons to treat women with respect and to teach our daughters never to settle for less than that. It is so important. Thanks for the reminder and the push to do something good. I am going to look for a charity now.

  2. Great post.One thing I’m not surprised by is how many women die from complications in childbirth here in the US. The hospital is statistically the worst place to have your baby.
    No one things about sex trafficking in Canada of all places, but it is a problem everywhere.

  3. It is a fact of life, and a travesty, that most human males have yet to climb down from the trees, and get their knuckles up off the ground. What is worse, is the enforced meme in a large part of the world, that men are supposed to act this way. It’s is manly, to be tough, strong, and controlling. Men are in charge, men make the rules, men are to be obeyed.

    Men need to grow the hell up, and leave their childish behaviors behind them. It really isn’t that tough to view women as equal. I’ve worked with them, watched them risk their lives to save others, held her hand when our son was being born, supported her in her fight against the establishment that wanted to just throw her father away when get got too sick. I’ve seen women act tougher, stronger, and braver, than most men I know.

    I am a man, and I’m sick to death of the actions of my gender around the world. It’s embarrassing to think that I’m related to these worthless, misogynistic, ruthless, brutes. Over 4 million years of human evolution, and men still, for the a large percentage, act like animals. It’s disgusting. I’m not perfect, but my wife is my partner, has been for almost 30 years. She’s not only earned my respect, she demands it, and I give it to her freely. Any man that can’t do that, does not deserve the title of human. He should go back to the forest, crawl into his cave, and stay away from civilized society.

  4. This is a most enlightening post, and yet not. The saddest part of it all is that I was not shocked at the numbers. I am aware, as are so many, and I do what I can where I can. I applaud your courage in taking on this issue here in Canada, for Canadians often as smug in their belief that “it doesn’t happen here”. It does, and will continue to do so unless steps are taken. Education is the most important step, and you have taken that. Please continue, you are needed.

  5. Sadly, I’m not shocked. I think in the US we often do shrug off the numbers thinking well that’s “over there…” Our church recently made dresses from pillowcases. Why? Because girls who wore dresses were less likely to be raped in Haiti, because they appeared to be under the care of a relief organization. A simple gesture with a huge reward. I think a sister church is continuing the project and dresses will also be sent to South Africa.

  6. Thank you so much for this post, and you’re absolutely right; sex trafficking is a major, major problem around the world, including the US. Where I live, there’s quite a bit of trafficking in women from central America. The good news is that at least in the US, more women than men are graduating from college. If this leads to more women in positions of power, in corporate america and in politics, we may see a gradual change in the attention paid to issues like sex trafficking, which disproportionally affect women.

  7. Woman was a gift to man. Men have their problems, too, but no wonder so much attention gets paid to the plight of women the world over when originally, we were created quite literally as “God’s gift” to mankind. It should not be surprising that we do get this attention, such focus. Perhaps a few of the verses on gifts in the Bible and the misuse of them can also be applied to us?
    If we cannot physically act, we ought to have the compassion to pray and spiritually side with oppressors. How many of the traffikers will one day be free also?

    • I’ve done some work for a non-profit that’s trying to mobilize men against human trafficking, and one of the things they encourage everyone to do is to pray that the traffickers will realize how evil their actions are and stop.

      Marcy

  8. Those numbers don’t surprise me, but they do make me sad. At the same time, it’s a bit overwhelming – what can I do here? Writing about it and raising awareness is definitely one answer. Picking charities carefully is another. Some of the policies regarding women and population control coming out of the UN are SCARY. They are forcing abortion on women in third-world countries. I’ve heard enough stories about forced abortions in China (because of their one-child policy) that I’m not surprised at the suicide rates there. Look at where a charity (especially Amnesty International and anything connected to the UN) spends their money; are they really working for the best interests of women?

  9. I work with children who are in CPS (child protective services) care and a very common reason for removal Mom’s boyfriend or the new step dad. One girl was raped by mom’s boyfriend and mom didn;t want o lose him so she gave up her daughter instead.
    Thankfully she was adopted by a wonderful couple, but at the age of 13 she knew she wasn’t as important to her mom as the man who raped her.

    • That’s so sad. I know in Cda 1 in every 4 girls are sexually molested or abused by the age of 7 (and the crime is vastly under-reported) and girls with a step-father are 7 times more likely to be abused than a peer living with a biological father.
      Lisa

  10. Arrgh, this just enrages me. As you point out, Lisa, many people in north America brush off these statistics as something that “only happens in 3rd world countries,” but that is far from the truth. What’s terrible is how the numbers shift and change once factors like race, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status are taken into account. On my college campus alone, we have to constantly spread the word and educate students about sexual harassment and violence, because we have far more cases within the community than should exist.

    There are so many levels upon which action needs to be taken, but I do believe that the fundamental underpinnings of gender inequality need to be addressed. Sexism is bound up with homophobia (and racism, and classism), and in the need to preserve ‘traditional masculinity.’ Challenging those misconceptions and preconceived notions are essential for creating transformative change.

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