Abuses against women abound in the world, not only in times of war but as a condition of ordinary life. Pakistan’s bill to ban child marriages recently died because the Council of Islamic Ideology “declared the legislation un-Islamic.” (Excerpted from the Washington Post by Free Thought Today, March 2016, pg. 17.) In certain areas of Nigeria, woman living in walled-off compounds brave Islamic censors and the moral police to write books opposing child trafficking and child marriages. They work in secret and sell their stories in secret for fear of being severely beaten or losing their lives if discovered. (“Love in the Time of Boko Haram,” by Samantha Michels, Mother Jones, March/April, 2016 pg. 55.)
How to free these women is a difficult question as the prejudices against them are inextricably woven into the fabric of religion. These victims are struggling to find a way to lift themselves from their abysmal conditions, but they can’t do it alone. They must be cheered on, their plight spotlighted by the raised voices of women everywhere. That’s why I agree with Madeleine Albright: there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help women.
While the prejudice against females is easiest to see in other parts of the world, we in the west bear our burden, also. Mostly, it is ignorance about our own history. A women admitted to me, recently, that she knew nothing about Hillary Clinton’s work on behalf of women. My jaw dropped. She was ignorant about the speech our First Lady made at the 4th World Conference on Human Rights in 1995. That was the speech that laid the foundation for Resolution 1325 — the U. N. Security Council’s opposition to violence against women and its recognition of their importance in matters of peace and security. (Click) Did this woman with whom I was speaking forget or never know that Mrs. Clinton and Madeleine Albright, first U.S. woman to be Secretary of State, used their bully pulpits to publicized and demand punishment for those guilty of sexual violence during the Balkan war? Did this person not know our first lady forced the media to pay attention to the brutal tactics of the Serbian Military? Or that she helped to inaugurate the annual Trafficking in Persons report to put a spotlight on similar perpetrators? (“A Feminist Foreign Policy,” by Suzanne Nosssel, Foreign Affairs, March/April, 2016, pg. 163)
The list of Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments in the defense of women is long but not long enough, apparently, to breach the ignorance of those who make judgments without bothering to inform themselves. I offer here a summary of Hillary’s history as a public figure. I only wish I’d written it. (Click)
Go on opposing Hillary, if you must, because she lacks her husband’s charm or because she was paid comparable to a man to make speeches. Oppose her for her husband’s record, it you think that’s fair. But never suppose she is indifferent to the rights of women. And never pretend gender among our leaders is irrelevant as women everywhere struggle to raise themselves from the mire of prejudice and violence.