It’s interesting how being the global majority doesn’t do women much good, isn’t it.
Well that’s not so surprising. Elites and oppressors generally are a minority, after all. A few thousand knights living off a population of peasants: that sums up much of human history.
What do the global majority get for their lot in life?
Well, there’s female genital mutilation.
- Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
- The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women.
- Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth increased risk of newborn deaths.
- About 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM.
- FGM is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15.
- In Africa an estimated 101 million girls 10 years old and above have undergone FGM.
- FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
There’s very early marriage.
Every year, an estimated 10 million girls aged under 18 are married worldwide with little or no say in the matter. That’s more than 25,000 girls every day, or 19 every minute. In the developing world, one in seven girls is married before her 15th birthday and some child brides are as young as eight or nine.
Neither physically nor emotionally ready to become wives and mothers, these girls are at far greater risk of experiencing dangerous complications in pregnancy and childbirth, becoming infected with HIV/AIDS and suffering domestic violence. With little access to education and economic opportunities, they and their families are more likely to live in poverty.
There’s one of the products of very early marriage for girls, fistula.
Each year between 50 000 to 100 000 women worldwide are affected by obstetric fistula, a hole in the birth canal. The development of obstetric fistula is directly linked to one of the major causes of maternal mortality: obstructed labour.
Women who experience obstetric fistula suffer constant incontinence, shame, social segregation and health problems. It is estimated that more than 2 million young women live with untreated obstetric fistula in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
There’s being forbidden to get an education. Take Pakistan, for instance.
The situation is the most critical in NWFP and Baluchistan, where the female literacy rate stands between 3 per cent and 8 per cent. Some government organizations and non-governmental organizations have tried to open formal and informal schools in these areas, but the local landlords, even when they have little or nothing to do with religion or religious parties, oppose such measures, apparently out of fear that people who become literate will cease to follow them with blind faith. Unfortunately, the government has not so far taken any steps to promote literacy or girls= education in these areas. It is even reluctant to help NGOs or other small political or religious parties do the job, because in order to maintain control, it needs the support of these landlords and chieftains who, as members of the two major political parties, are regularly elected to the national assembly.
“I want to go to school to learn but I cannot because my parents do not allow me to do so,” said 9-year old Palwasha, who has visited the biggest city of Pakistan, Karachi, with her parents and seen girls like herself going to school. She lives in a village located in Dir district (NWFP), where education for girls does not exist.
There are more items one could list – violence; rape including gang rape; women punished for being raped while their rapists go free; unequal laws and rights; forced prostitution; street harassment and “Eve teasing”; employment discrimination; workplace harassment; witch hunts.
Half the sky, but more than half the misery.