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April 4, 2006

Murder and Disappearance on Holocaust Scale

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born Dutch legislator who made a film with Theo van Gogh which led to his murder (and has left her with 24-hour body guards), wrote a commentary today in the Christian Science Monitor on Women and gendercide. At times I find her too simplistically dismissive of cultural differences; but I agree with her core point: women must organize around the globe and demand our equal human rights. We in the West cannot take our situation for granted - we must work to increase access to education, healthcare, and jobs for our sisters elsewhere. United, we are a force to be reckoned with. Divided, we are silenced and dismissed.

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?
As a Jewish woman, I'm a bit sick of listening to people rotely saying, "never again," when I know many genocides have occurred and are occurring today that are just as horrifying as the Holocaust. But as an American woman, too often I forget the importance of focusing on women's rights and women's access to power because everything "seems so equal" here. There is a lower percentage of women in the US Congress than there are women in the Pakistani Congress. And Pakistan can't even keep its religious fanatics from teaching hate and terrorism in their schools. So I know that we've still got significant work to do both domestically and on a global scale.

Everyone needs to pay attention to this, not just women.
The first thing you can do is join the oldest international women's peace organization, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
And listen to women for a change - not just on Mother's Day or International Women's Day; but every day.
Recognize that a feminist future is the only sustainable future. Every political policy, every social policy, every cultural policy must include a gender perspective and must include equal input from women.

Posted by cj at April 4, 2006 10:40 PM


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