Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Killing Women

I have no recollection of being deliberately taught anything other than, "The opportunities are there; you can be anything you want to be when you grow up." In real life, however...

At 25 or 30, I was greatly respected in the work place for my ass-ets. Today, as a woman approaching 50, not vying for promotion or transfer, I am greeted with, "Is there anyone else there tonight, or is it just you?" (I realize that by answering the phone, "Feeders, Judi," I am offering all kinds of clues to my incompetence.) Betrayed of course, by my obviously female voice, I know what they mean: "Is there a male supervisor there?"

As frustrating as it all is, it is nothing like living in Pakistan:


In Pakistan, just across the border from Afghanistan, where American forces have been fighting Taliban thought as well as heavily armed Taliban forces for well over a decade, a 25-year old woman was executed outside  the High Court in Lahore, in broad daylight, for marrying a man she loved -- an act thought to be rebellious and therefore, disgraceful to her family. They call it "honor killing."

Statistics report there are around 1,000 honor killings in Pakistan every year. However, these are based on the individual stories that hit the news. The Pakistani government does not keep statistical data on honor killings, and the custom itself -- perpetrated and protected by the family -- lends itself to safeguarding information. This number does not reflect any cases of mutilation and other punishments associated with honor punishments (or Karo-Kari).

Human rights organizations such as the The Aurat Foundation, the PWHRO and the HRCP have been fighting many years to hold the government and perpetrators accountable. Brave individuals such as the young Malala Yousafzai, whose story reached the world when she was gunned down in October 2012, have suffered for their courage in speaking out against these injustices.

The rights we enjoy in America may be far from perfect, the way we treat one another -- less than kind, but women in Pakistan are giving their lives for the freedoms we don't even acknowledge as freedoms. They are willing to risk it all for opportunities I don't even see as anything but business as usual. As a prosperous, entitled nation, shouldn't we use the voices and the means we have to make their stories heard and their murders stop?

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