Sexism is not a problem for me. But the same cannot be said for too many other girls. Some countries are still plagued with inequality and in these places where women are inferior, they are not treated as people but rather as possessions. They are denied their human rights. They are denied control over their own lives. And as possessions, like you would think they cannot change the systems of their government on their own because no one would listen. These people need others voices too. Therefore, the feminist movement is still a necessary one.
There is a mountain of examples of injustices for women world wide. To name a few…
Article 26 of the Human Rights declaration gives everyone the right to education. In Afghanistan 9/10 women are alliterate. Reasons for this include the government providing fewer schools for girls and girls being kept home due to discriminatory attitudes that do not value or permit their education. They are instead raised to be married.
1/3 of girls in developing countries are forced into marriages before they are 18 years old. They cannot marry the person of their choice at time that is right for them. Imagine if this still happened in New Zealand. 1/3 of us girls have 2 more years at the most before we would become the property of our family’s acquaintance. No more chasing dreams. No more making the world our own.
In some parts of India women’s looks are valued over their lives from a law where women are exempt from wearing a helmet as to not mess up their carefully styled hair and makeup. Of course it is still a choice for the women to wear a helmet, but people will put ease over safety every time. It could be compared to having a law in New Zealand that allows adults to drive without wearing a seatbelt. Immediately some would think great! Now I don’t have to wear that uncomfortable, constricting strap over me every time I want to go somewhere. Better judgement goes straight out the window. This law in India means that the women don’t have to lug around a helmet or even buy one in the first place. And what’s more they will look beautiful as they ride which is very important. Why would they choose to wear one? This futile law lets thousands of women die each year.
And, if you are a female in Saudi Arabia you aren’t even allowed to drive a car. You have to rely on someone else to drive you places, meaning you have very limited freedom. The same amount as we do now as kids.
If you happen to be a woman living in a county called Vatican City which is in central Europe by the way! You can’t vote. Women here have no power in deciding who will make decisions for them, decisions that can possibly change their life.
In Yemen, a country sharing a border with Saudi Arabia the law for legal testimony is that women are not recognised as a full person before the court. A woman’s testimony is not taken seriously unless it is backed up by a man’s or if it concerns a place where a man would not be. And women can’t testify at all for adultery, theft, or lie-ball.
In Saudi Arabia and Morocco rape victims can be charged with crimes. For leaving the house without a male companion, being alone with an unrelated man or for getting pregnant afterwards. Makes sense doesn’t it? It’s her fault for being raped because she was by herself and her fault for being pregnant after being raped by a man who had no form of contraception. A famous case of this is the Qatif Girl. At 19 she was gang raped and abused by 7 men. She went to court to prosecute her attackers but instead was sentenced to 200 lashes and six moths in prison for being alone with an unrelated male. She was alone with him from no choice of her own though. Because of threats she had to see this man in his car. While being in the car incident occurred. She went to the hospital the next day but did not speak of the ordeal. She told ABC in an interview, “The criminals started talking about it [the rape] in my neighbourhood. They thought my husband would divorce me. They wanted to ruin my reputation. Slowly my husband started to know what had happened. Four months later, we started a case. My family heard about the case. My brother hit me and tried to kill me.” “Everyone looks at me as if I’m wrong. I couldn’t even continue my studies. I wanted to die. I tried to commit suicide twice,”. The Qatif girl’s rapists were convicted, but their sentences were very light, between just 2 years and 9 years in prison. Also, the girl’s attorney had his licence confiscated. If the same crime were to have be committed in New Zealand each of the men would have received between 16 – 20 years in prison and of course the lawyer would not lose their license.
Women in all these countries are suffering from discriminative, sexist people and laws. They are preventing them from being educated, being able to drive and being able to stand up for themselves and others in court. These laws are even causing women to die. It seems the leaders of these countries must be blind to let such appalling things to happen to citizens of their country. Yet, in fact these decisions and laws are made purposefully, so the people in power stay in power. But, men of quality do not fear equality.
We are so lucky to be living in New Zealand, where we have good men and decent people running the country, and where the worst show of sexism affecting us is not being allowed to wear leggings in P.E. We have this privilege because of so many men and women fighting for a hundred of years before us. Because of people like Kate Shepard shaping our culture and laws I, like many, many other girls have no extra barriers to climb in order to achieve success. Now we have the opportunity as the least corrupt nation in the world (tied with Denmark) to keep the movement for equality going until there is not one country were women can’t vote, not one where women are exempt from wearing helmets, where they are forced into marriages and not one country where women get put in prison for being a victim of rape.