The dictionary definition of monopoly is the exclusive possession or control of something. That control is evident in society through the control of women in different cultures. Different races, religions, and societal norms compose culture and its meaning to different people. Traditionally, the role of women was to stay at home, and complete their household duties: clean the house, make the meals, and bear children, specifically males.
However, as women began to venture out of the house into the workforce, they discovered that they were being neglected of many opportunities that were readily available to men. These included, but not limited to, the right to vote, a variety of jobs, social status, and the moral freedoms that many men experienced. Most women were heavily reliant on their husbands and had easily felt the discrimination.
Historical Attacks on Women’s Rights
Throughout history, women have been considered inferior in many cultures. This ideology was passed down from generation to generation as mothers taught their daughters to become submissive.
Muslim women have been forced into submission through the wearing of the burqa. The findings of Lila Abu-Lughod, Professor of Social Science in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University, have revealed the dangers of reifying culture that is apparent in the tendencies to ingrain cultural icons, such as Muslim women, into society has led to inequality, limitations on freedom, and the creation of a clash between traditional Islamic culture and modern culture. The issues facing many Muslim women around the world today are those facing women everywhere: poverty, illiteracy, political repression, and patriarchy.
A focus on verses from the Koran that specifically address women is, however, one common means of attempting to answer the question ‘What is women’s status in Islam?’ (Abu-Lughod, 2002) Muslim women choose the path they want to take: the hidden, modest, and humble one, by following the rules of the Koran, or being noticed with vulgar attire, behavior, and attitude. Kecia Ali, author, PhD, Professor of Religion at Duke University Muslim, contributes the idea that Muslim women tend to follow the first path, because society makes it sound more ‘womanly’ as caretaker and mother (Ali, 2002).
Alternatively, in the opinion of Stephanie Coontz, professor of history and family studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, both women and men throughout history have been controlled through arranged marriages. The traditional definition of marriage is an institution that brings two people together under the influence of the most violent, delusive, and transient of passions, and requires them to swear they’ll remain committed until death do them part (Coontz, 2005).
When people think of love and marriage, they tend to think of the first leading to the second, according to Sheila B. Lalwani, a writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In most cultures of the past, such as the Hindus, it was inconceivable that young people would choose their spouse based on an unpredictable feeling like love. Love is learned and can come afterward, they say (Lalwani, 2005). Marriage wasn’t about the happiness of two individuals because both the boy and the girl were forced into marriage. Marriage was a political and economic arrangement between two families.
Child marriage was heavily practiced in Africa, so that families could be rid of the responsibility of raising a girl child. Most likely, these marriages were arranged, unwanted, and unexpected. Annabel Erulkar, head of the Population Council in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, reinforces the fact that child brides are at a distinct disadvantage and the impact of early marriage on their lives is far-reaching; they usually enter marriage with little to no education and limited knowledge and skills that are needed to negotiate adult marital roles. There is a higher chance for married adolescent girls to contract HIV/AIDS. This is due to more frequent intercourse, limited condom use, and husbands who are significantly older, and more likely to be HIV-positive (Erulkar, 2017).
Dr. Nawal Nour, author and educator of medical complications of female genital cutting, enhances Erulkar’s viewpoint by stating that child marriage is driven by poverty and has many effects on girls’ health: increased risk for sexually transmitted diseases, cervical cancer, malaria, death during childbirth, and obstetric fistulas, meaning that girls’ offspring are at high risk for premature birth and death (Nour, 2007). Therefore, elevated rates of suicidal thoughts or attempts at suicide are present among Ethiopian married girls and those who are awaiting marriage, as opposed to girls not yet in the marriage process.
Modern Attacks on Women’s Rights
Although most religions today are more accepting of women entering roles beside ‘caretaker and mother’, the nature of modern society’s culture has engrained practices into lifestyles that impede on women’s rights. According to Kavita Alejo, a San Jose University graduate and a national member of Alpha Phi Sigma (The National Criminal Justice Honor Society), domestic violence is an issue affecting people of all ages, races, genders, and sexual orientations. Although men and women sustain many of the same injuries, women suffer more from long-term health problems caused by domestic abuse.
The currently published statistics on the prevalence of domestic violence in heterosexual and homosexual relationships, and the results of existing studies on the short- and long-term health effects of domestic violence have supported this point. Violence against men and same-sex domestic violence are often considered less of a threat to society and to the people involved, but male-on-female violence, female-on-male violence, and same-sex violence all involve serious consequences to the victim’s and batterer’s short and long-term health (Alejo, 2014).
Additionally, the abuse on women has been exemplified by modern rape culture and sex-trafficking, and their side effects of victimization, silencing of women, and ignorance of such events. Sex trafficking involves some form of forced or coerced sexual exploitation, not limited to prostitution, and has become a significant, growing problem in both the United States and the world. Dr. Nawal Nour and Dr. Neha Deshpande hold that the costs to society include the degradation of human and women’s rights, poor public health, disrupted communities, and diminished social development (Nour and Deshpande, 2013).
Mary Graw Leary, associate professor in the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America agrees that sexual assault is one of the most terrible crimes to be victimized by or accused of. However, it is often committed against the most vulnerable in society by those with power (Leary).
Therefore, those in power do not care who they victimize, and as a result both men and women of all ages are attacked. The existence of a rape culture, according to Lily K. Thacker, journalist from Eastern Kentucky University, normalizes sexual violence and blames rape victims for the attacks against them. This affects the American criminal justice system, influencing both the outcomes of rape trials and the treatment of rape victims (Thacker, 2017). The media portrays rape inadequately, and as a result more men can walk away with their pride and egos intact.
Limitations and Solutions
Most of my sources contained bias due to the authors all being women. I had trouble finding articles about women’s rights written by men, since few men feel comfortable speaking their mind about such a topic. Modern attacks against women, such as sex trafficking and rape culture, can be solved over time with broader social implications that requires both medical and legal attention. Healthcare professionals can work to improve the screening, identification, and assistance of victims of sex trafficking in a clinical setting and help these women and girls access legal and social services.