Upon rising in the morning an orthodox Jewish man recites a benediction giving thanks to God for not having been born a woman. When confronted that this is sexism he will argue that this is not negative towards women but allows God to place different obligations of observance on the two sexes. I take exception to that interpretation. No matter the religion, the country, the society and the life-style, in one way or another, women are treated differently and more often than not, the end result is not in their favour. The extent of the negativity will vary depending on the men in their lives, the nation where the woman lives and the religion she practices.
If one goes back hundreds of centuries, it is easy to see why women were dominated. The rule of law was non-existent and women were, in most cases, physically weaker. Especially during pregnancy and child-rearing, women needed to be protected by a man from other men. Eventually in western society laws were promulgated which gave women a measure of protection and the beginnings of the opportunity to attain equality. The discovery of the birth-control pill, for the first time allowed women the possibility of determining when they would become pregnant. However even with laws to protect women, because of the private nature of the relationship between the sexes in the home, physical strength usually determined the outcome of disagreements.
The Convention on “The Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women” was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979 and is often described as an international bill of rights for women. Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles, it defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.
The Convention defines discrimination against women “…as any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, social, civil or any other field”.
By accepting the Convention, States commit themselves to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women in all forms, including:
a. to incorporate the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system, abolish all discriminatory laws and adopt appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against women
b. to establish tribunals and other public institutions to ensure the effective protection of women and against discrimination, and
c. to ensure elimination of all acts of discrimination against women by
persons, organizations or enterprises.
Ninety per cent of all the nations in the UN have ratified this Convention including Saudi Arabia. This clearly shows that the Convention is of no use to protect the rights of women and is not worth the paper it is written on.
Life for women in North America and Europe has many shortcomings and it would be negligent to leave the impression that lives lived in the west are without hazards. It can be both violent and unfair.
…In the U.S. a woman is raped every six minutes and a woman is battered every fifteen seconds.
…1 in 3 female trauma patients taken into the emergency department in a hospital are victims of abuse.
…In Canada a government report reveals that indigenous women between the ages of 25-44 were five times more likely to die violently than all other women of the same age.
If a woman had confessed to the sexual acts of David Letterman, and was a T.V. personality, would she still have her job? If Hilary Clinton, the wife of President BillClinton, had confessed to extra-marital sex in the white house, would she have been elected senator from New York? A woman who has had many sexual partners is looked on as a slut or a whore but a man in the same position is called a womanizer, a swinger or a skirt-chaser….a definite difference in attitude.
Women are victimized in another way which came to my attention When men sold sperm it was no problem. But as soon as there was a market for eggs the government saw this as a way for rich women to take advantage of poor women. Nothing could have been further from the truth. The eggs in demand were those of college educated women looking for a way to pay for tuition. I cannot ignore that getting women`s eggs was a more complicated and dangerous procedure.
Many women today are single parents, raising families by themselves. Fewer women are holding top executive jobs in Canada, according to a study by Rosenzweig and Co. The report said the number of women at the highest ranks of the one hundred biggest publicly-traded companies declined to thirty-one women from thirty-seven. There is an irony in all of this, as study after study shows that when corporations tap into the huge talent pool of women for top jobs, financial performance improves and shareholders benefit. Sylvia Bashevkin, a noted author on women’s affairs, recently stated “that the prospects for Canadian women in public life seem to be getting worse, not better.
If the results of the U.N. Convention had a moderate effect in the West, in the Middle East and the East they had no effect at all.
In North Africa, six thousand women are genitally mutilated each day. Thousands of women are sold into sexual slavery in China. Two hundred women in Bangladesh will be disfigured when their spurned husbands or suitors burn them with acid. Thousands of women in India will be murdered by their families and in-laws in domestic disputes. Violence against women is rooted in a global culture of discrimination which denies equal rights with men and which legitimizes the appropriation of women’s bodies for individual sexual gratification or political ends. Every year, violence in the home and throughout the world devastates the lives of millions of women. (Amnesty International 2001)
Nonie Darwish, a convert to Christianity from Islam, details some of the rules abided by the leaders of radical Islam and a large percentage of their followers.
…In the Muslim faith a Muslim man can marry a child as young as one year old and be sexually intimate with this child, consummating the marriage by age nine.
…The dowry is given to the family in exchange for the woman who becomes his slave.
…Even though a woman is abused she cannot obtain a divorce.
…To prove rape, the woman must have four male witnesses.
…Often after a woman has been raped, she is returned to her family and the family must return the dowry. The family has the right to execute her (an honour killing) to restore the honour of the family. A husband can beat his wife “at will” without giving an explanation. The husband is permitted to have four wives and a temporary wife for an hour (prostitute) at his discretion.
…The Sharia Muslim law controls the private as well as the public life of the woman.
…According to the Quran, a daughter can receive only half the inheritance of a son, a woman’s testimony in court is worth half of a man’s and the compensation for the murder of a woman is half that of a man.
In Afghanistan the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 raised the hopes that women would rapidly regain their human rights. Ongoing threats to women’s security make their participation in public life almost impossible. Afghan women are still among the most vulnerable in the world. Recently Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, and supposedly in favour of more freedom for women, secretly passed a law dubbed “the rape law” which requires among other things that women submit to sex with their husbands every four days with few exceptions. The law applies only to the Shia minority who make up ten to twenty percent of the Afghan people. When the women staged a rally to protest the law they were attacked by groups of men calling them whores.
The “Social Institutions and Gender Index” ranked the ten worst countries for gender inequality:
3. Sierra Leone
7. India (there are more Muslims in India than in Pakistan)
The Muslim world represents twenty percent of the world’s population and in general pays lip service to the demands of the United Nations for equality to women. There is no REAL equality of women ANYWHERE in the world. I believe that Canada should remain in Afghanistan if only to protect the hard-won minimal rights of women there.
Sept 15 2016— It struck me as so obvious about the power of men. Muslim women when they have an abortion in most cases abort female embryos. How much more sexist can you get when you obliterate what you are.