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Wednesday 28 December 2011

Shatter The Silence: An Undeclared War On Women

She had often suffered serious injuries. She had left him on earlier occasions, but had come back for love of her children. Now she was convinced that her life was in danger. She filed for a divorce.
He asked her to bring something to the office, the office from where they used to jointly run a TV station they had founded. Minutes before her arrival, he sent her several text messages, begging her to forgive him, as God liked forgiveness. He was truly sorry. He could not live without her.
Before sending those texts, he had made sure not to leave anything to chance. He had already tested the two hunters' knives he had bought the previous day on a piece of plastic.
Leaving nothing to chance at all, after viciously stabbing her 40 times on her face, chest and back, he sliced her neck. Then he kicked her head away.
This was not an enactment to air on their TV show. This was a matter of real flesh and blood. On Feb. 12, 2009, less than a week after Aasiya Hassan had filed for divorce, her head had been severed from her body in a rich suburb of Buffalo, NY.
A report released last week by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) of the U. S. Government states that one in four women in the U. S. suffer "severe physical violence", and one in five are raped, at some time in their life. Millions of women are suffering serious violence quietly at any time. According to another survey, discussed recently by Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden, four women die due to domestic violence every day. In the United States of America.
For every woman that dies, hundreds keep suffering without any recourse, without any let up in violence. They remain alive, but are not 'living' by any dignified definition of the word.
While life with dignity still remains elusive for many women, we have the heart to add additional ignominy to that -- the repeal of the domestic abuse law by the city council of Topeka, the Kansas State capital, so that the city does not have to prosecute such cases.
Should we look into the eyes of our battered daughters living in Topeka and explain to them that their government cannot afford to protect them, and it thinks that they do not matter. That one case of serious domestic violence is not one too many.
Or should we encourage our daughters to expect to be beaten senseless and plan ahead by taking an insurance policy against that? Just as they have been advised by a Kansas State representative to plan ahead for rape, by taking an insurance policy to cover abortion necessitated by it: "We do need to plan ahead, don't we, in life?"; "I have a spare tire on my car."; "I also have life insurance,"; "I have a lot of things that I plan ahead for."
Or should we advise our raped girls to turn "a lemon situation into lemonade"?
A spare tire in the car. Turning a lemon into lemonade. Planning ahead. Life insurance.
Taxes. Death. Rape!?
Can we take a deep breath and ponder over what is happening in our country? In "... the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave."
There was a time when our society treated African slaves as 'property.' Today we are not proud of that time in our history, but many in our society subliminally still treat women as property. To secure the right to vote, women had to wait for 144 years after we unequivocally embraced equality in the Declaration of Independence. How many more decades would women in our country have to wait just to be able to breathe fearlessly in their own homes?
An uncivil, an unholy, an undeclared war is going on in our society. The lines are clearly drawn, as they have been for centuries. Casualty is high. Serious injury is far greater. We do not see this war because it occurs behind the curtains of smiling facades. It takes place inside tastefully decorated bedrooms, family rooms and kitchens. In TV stations, in rich neighborhoods. We do not see it because it is shielded by the gaze of holiday lighting and manicured lawns.
No doubt, the status of women in many other countries is far worse. Abysmally worse. But can we use that as a consolation? Does that in any way lessen our responsibility to let our wives and other loved ones live in dignity and freedom from being terrorized in the very place they should feel the safest in -- in our homes?
Who is to blame? Our society? Our values? Our silence? Our religions? The connivance of a God who we have made in the image of man, and who cares not for the plight of the other half of the human species?
As Joachim Prinz, a rabbi under the Hitler regime, later said: "Bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence."
This holiday season, let us keep those millions in our thoughts whose souls the holiday spirit cannot warm. Let us include them in our prayers. Let us lend our voice to the tongues that have been sealed by too much terror in their veins.
And let us make a resolution.
Shatter the silence.

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