These words of Hillary Clinton should ring loud and clear as a clarion call to action: “Women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights.”
She said that in her powerful 1995 landmark speech at the United Nation’s Women’s Conference in Beijing.
During her speech, Clinton’s voice quavered with indignation and anger as she voiced a ghastly litany of crimes against females, against human beings, such as newborn baby girls in China killed by starvation, drowning, suffocation or breaking their spines just because they are unwanted “female” babies.
These vicious crimes against women still happen with sickening regularity, day and night, throughout the world.
One day last May, a crowd stood and watched as a 25-year-old woman, Farzana Parveen, was beaten to death with bricks and bats outside a courtroom in Lahore, Pakistan. Her crime? She married a man she loved instead of the cousin she was ordered to marry. Her self-appointed executioners included her father, her brother and the cousin she’d rejected as a mate. The police arrested the father, who said his daughter had shamed the family.
“I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent,” he said. “And I have no regret over it.”
That kind of anti-female savagery happens every day. Just in Pakistan, estimates range in the thousands every year for the numbers of girls or women killed by their families for actual or perceived adultery, premarital sex or even disobedience.
The twisted name for this monstrous crime is “honor killings.”
Islam’s holy book, the Quran, does not mention “honor killings.” And yet – this is the truly sick aspect – perpetrators use their religion as an excuse not just to oppress women but to kill them at the slightest whim. Islam does have strict prohibitions and punishments for “crimes” such as adultery, but at least there is supposed to be a heavy burden of proof on the accuser in a court of law.
This anti-woman rage is most common among supposedly “religious” people, like the goons who recently kidnapped an entire school of girls in Nigeria, or the Taliban fanatic who shot a girl in the head while she was sitting in a school bus, or the woman in India who was burned to death because she “dishonored” her family. These are people who invent a “religion” to suit their irrational hatreds.
What can possibly fuel such stark cruelties? How could men anywhere be opposed to girls or women going to school? Don’t these men have mothers, sisters, wives, daughters whom they love? Why wouldn’t they want the best for them and for other females everywhere? Even if men are opposed to female education because of some ludicrous “religious” prohibition real or imagined, how on earth can they take the brutal step of killing a girl or woman just because she wants to learn and possibly be happy in this world? It’s like male chauvinism run amok – but male chauvinism so hate-filled, so poisonous that it spills over into murder.
Let there be no doubt that extremist forms of religion encourage and condone those kinds of violence against women. Even in the United States, there are some so-called Christian sects that claim the Bible justifies treating women as lesser than men and that punishing women by husbands is OK in the eyes of God, even marital “rapes” being excused by some adherents of pseudo-biblical nonsense.
The only way to get rid of these kinds of violence is to get rid of the extremist religions that nurture such cruelties These radicals are nothing but medieval throwbacks who fear and hate the modern world because knowledge (especially women’s education) threatens their male-dominant power bases and weakens their inaccurate visions and responses to the real world. They are trying to live in a past that no longer exists and that probably never did exist in the “sacred purity” they like to imagine it did. It’s not surprising the fear of being so wrong and unjustified can unleash such hatred and violence. Al Qaeda is a prime example of these festering ingrown toenails, medieval nostalgists who seethe with hatred because their outrageous beliefs can find few safe harbors in an enlightened world.
But, alas, since it’s impossible to wave a wand and eradicate extremist “religions,” the only solution is through education, to help these extremists see the errors of their ways. But that is going to take education, lots of education. Education for men and – here’s the hitch – education for women. All women.