An eight year -old girl is harsassed and spat upon by a middle-aged ultra Orthodox in Beit Shemesh, Israel, on her way to school, accusing her of dressing immodestly. This is not an isolated case. The ultras, more and more are demanding strict adherence to their values; gender segregation, signs telling women to stay away from certain streets in their areas, women must sit at the back of buses ( hello Alabama etc), and shops are told to stop posting photographs of women or even employing them in shops patronized by ultras......these weak-minded zealots are so easily discomfited by women. Why? "We are fighting for the soulof the nation and the essence of the state" Pres. Shimon Peres, calling on the entire nation to mobilise "to rescue the majority from the claws of a small minority"
This small minority and its brother -in arms, the settlers have too long been allwed to run rampant. Now is the time of reckoning and the threat to the dream of a democratic, secular Israel is palpable.
In Egypt, a youg woman is brutally beaten, stomped on , undressed and drag away to prison. Others are forced to undergo "virginity tests'. They are beaten, electrocuted, accused of being prostitutes and otherwise forcibly examined. This was justified by a top army officer, saying that they were necessary to head off possible charges of rape (he wasn't smirking). An Egyptian court has ordered the army to stop the virginity tests, after a human rights group sued, calling the practice " torture and sexual violence".
In Afghanistan, a woman who was raped by her brother-in klaw was sentenced to prison for adultery. The perpetrator was not punished. After the case was publicised, Pres. Karzai pardoned the woman but stipulated that she must marry the rapist (a child was born from this abuse). This is doubling the penalty to the woman. There is widespread practice of men raping women, and while doing so, repeatefld uttering, "I marry you, I marry you" and that makes it ok. How gisgusting, especially as this practice is widespread and condoned. Women live in constant fear. They cannot work, go to school, go out without male consent and at home they are subjected to rape by relatives and then are condemned as adulterous, and subject to "honor killing". Where is the honor?
The lot of women is daunting. Even in so-called developed society such as ours, they are subject to the whims, fears, weaknesses, strictures of men. We talk of "equality of rights", but we continue to limit the rights of women. We may not have "honcr killing" or call it so, but women...wifves/girl-friend/children are still brutalised/killed in our society. In 2008 9 of 11 killed in conjugal violence were women and 23 of 27 attempted murders were committed against women.i Let's hope that the new year will bring about the necessary changes and make lives better for all, for in limiting the rights of others ,we limit our rights also and we deny the individual geniuses that can make the difference.