o long, been denied the attention and concern of international organizations, national governments, traditional human rights groups and the press. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of girls and women around the world continue to endure debilitating and often fatal human rights abuses. These are only a few instances of abuse which occur every single day all around the world. Human rights violations against women must be documented, publicized and stopped.
Brazil: A man who confessed to stabbing his wife and her lover to death is for the second time acquitted of murder by an all-male jury.
The acquittal is based on the argument that he acted in legitimate defense of his wronged honor.
India: A 10-year-old girl is rescued by a flight attendant who noticed her crying. Her father has sold her to the 60-year-old man sitting next to her for the equivalent of $240US.
Ireland: A 14-year-old girl, raped by her best friends father, learns she is pregnant. She is prohibited from travelling to England where abortion is legal. Only when she indicates she will commit suicide if forced to carry the pregnancy to term does the Supreme Court allow her to proceed.
Kenya: At a boarding school, 300 boys attack the girls dormitory. Seventy-one girls are raped. Nineteen are trampled to death in the stampede to escape. The schools vice principal remarks, “The boys never meant any harm against the girls. They just wanted to rape.”
United States: A 51-year-old woman is stabbed 19 times and killed by her former boyfriend as she waits inside a courthouse to extend an order of protection.
Twice before he had been charged with harassment. Both times the charges were dropped by the courts. (www.equalitynow.com)
One of the most horrific acts of abuse towards women is known as honor killings. In various countries throughout the world, particularly in the Middle East and parts of South Asia, women who bring dishonor to their families because of sexual indiscretions or even rape are forced to pay a terrible price at the hands of male family members.
This brutal act is most commonly found among the Islamic cultures. They use their religion as an excuse for their animalistic, indecent behavior. However, Islam recognizes and celebrates the inherent dignity bestowed by God upon all human beings regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or religion. The Koran, the Muslim holy book, is explicit in its emphasis on the equality of women and men before God. “And their Lord has accepted of them and answered them, “Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, whether male or female, you are members, one of another..
.” (Koran, 3:195)
In the Arab culture, family status is largely dependent upon its honor, much of which is determined by the respectability of its daughters, who can damage it irreparably by the perceived misuse of their sexuality. Examples cited by women’s organizations (MLW.com) show that women are punished, even murdered, on the suspicion of having been involved in a sexual relationship. Victims of rape have met the same fate. Maintaining honor is deemed a woman’s responsibility, whether or not she has been educated about sex or consented to the act.
According to Sharif Kanaana, professor of anthropology at Birzeit University in Palestine, the code of honor killings “prevents women from having sexual freedom or the right to use their sexual powers the way they want.” (Kanaana 44) The honor of a family is very dependent on a womans virginity. In the Arab culture, it is believed that a womans virginity is the property of the men around her, first her father, and later a gift to her husband. In this context, a womans honor must be guarded by a community of male family members to assure she does not infect it, or the family name. The woman is guarded externally by her behavior and dress code and internally by keeping her hymen intact. Should the woman tarnish the family name in any way, whether it be through sexual relations with another man on her own accord, or through a rape in which she had nothing to do with, the men in her family will take immediate actions which .