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March 22, 2010

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I have always wondered how women are being abused by men when women are mothers. And wives.

I do not have personal knowledge or experience about abuse of any gender, male or female, or locally or elsewhere like in Afghanistan, and I am not saying anything other than I can imagine husbands being scared of wives easier than the other way around.

That is so sad...I never realized the medical dilemna for women.

I'm in the thick of this information, as host of a national women's issues show. Worrying, if you really look around you, will kill you. There's too much to worry about. Instead, I focus on the progress.
I am heartened by people like Sakena Yacoobi, who has risked her life to provide health care and education for women in Afghanistan for years. I am heartened by books like "Half the Sky", which are getting people to realize that "women's issues" are human rights issues by profiling women on the front lines battling human trafficking, domestic violence and rape around the world.
I am heartened by Edit Schlaffer and Women Without Borders, who are promoting international alternative diplomacy, building dialogue and relationship between people who traditionally are enemies.
If I can ever finish my book, it will highlight some of these amazing women and what their work means to me. They are our heroes.

I have a ton of opinions on the war in Afghanistan, but I'll keep them to myself. Let me just say that I agree with you 100% - it is NOT our job to police the world, and we certainly have no right to impose our values on anyone else in the world, whether we agree with *their* values or not.

I can't imagine what it must be like to grow up a woman in that culture, or to raise a daughter. Terrifying. It makes the struggles and danger of those that try to break out of those constraints all the more powerful. And it makes me grateful to be born when and where I was.

I agree with Mrs. Bear, I'm very grateful to have been born in this country and your post is an excellent reminder. I wish I could solve every problem and right every wrong in this world but I can't. Instead I do what I can. I start at home with my family and work my way out. Hoping along the way that the ripple effect will take place.

Thanks for the timely reminder. I heard that when women have to have "female" work done that the doctors are not allowed to "look" at them? How can they logically work when they can't see?

Maureen, how did you peek inside my head and come out with just the opposite of what's been on my mind??

I do worry about the women abroad, in Africa, in the middle east.

And I agree with Jan, that it's not our job to police the world (and her comment intrigues me).

And her comment directly links to my most recent worry (and the opposite of your thought). I had just reached the age where I didn't need to worry about any of the boys in my life being whisked off to war at the whim of our government (they are all too old to be drafted). Now I find myself hoping that we can find some sort of peace in this world in the next 14 years. Because I'm not sure I could bravely send one of the boys off to war, the way those mothers send their daughters to school. Mostly, I can't imagine little o being asked to hurt another human being in the name of freedom, or any other name.

I guess I see this as a human rights violation, not just cultural differences. And I do believe we have a responsibility to step in when people don't have the ability to live without fear for their lives.

I'm not talking about free speech, or that kind of thing. I don't believe that is a RIGHT. But I do believe you should be able to walk down the street without fear of being raped or have acid thrown on your face.

I worry about women and children all over the world.

I worry so much about things near to me that I tend to trust that the big pictures will all work out well. An anxious optimist, if you will. But you are so good to care about those far away.

I worry about women in so many places. Sierra Leone, India, Afghanistan...

It's crazy how society treats the people entrusted to raise its young.

a sobering commentary indeed. Thanks for shedding additional light on this topic of global gender equality.

When I turn my mind to those countries with less than, those women with less than, I have a renewed appreciation of the country we live in. Like you said, I cannot pretend to know the reality of these women. I could not imagine it even if I had witnessed it with my own eyes for, my life will always be cushioned by the freedoms of our country. It is indeed a privilege to be born in the US. A privilege I really do hope more people can see, and one that I hope we never destroy.

it is such an abhorrent human rights grievance. You should check out WITNESS.

http://www.witness.org/

I believe we do have a responsibility to these women.

Maureen, have you read A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini? A fascinating (realistic, but fictional) look at a piece of the gender inequality in Afghanistan.

I love how Erica @ PLRH put it and I suppose it's what I do too: start with my own family and work my way out from there. Sometimes, though, I think I skip too quickly over my regional community and move from the local to the national and international.

I worry about the future, not really for myself or John, but for Sprite. I worry about dangers that will be awaiting her once she leaves the relative safety of our watch. I don't know how other parents have done it. How did you do it?

I agree that while it may not be our place to "police the world" I DO believe it is our responsibility to make sure that humanity is safe and able to thrive. How are you safe when crimes against a gender are common place? How are you able to thrive without a basic education? This is beyond policing - this is ensuring a safe, valued human being - nationality, gender or religious beliefs notwithstanding.

I also am concerned about lack of human rights for women in Afghanistan and around the world. It makes me realize how blessed I have been to be born in this place at this time,and reminds me not to become complacent. Women suffer around the world, in ways we can hardly imagine.
I don't know how I can make real differences in their lives besides some financial support to organizations working to make life possible. FINCA is a microloan program I have donated to. They fund small businesses for women, and education for girls. So does SEVA, providing medical care as well.
I also believe keeping informed and voting for politicians who believe in Human Rights and against crazy wars like the one in Iraq can make a difference.
Thanks Maureen for reminding me of events in the larger world. It is so easy to get caught up in our own small dramas..

I worry about human rights problems all over the world. I don't know how any one entity can stop it... (and I'm not sure we need to be over there... in that capacity).
I do love Greg Mortenson's work in building schools over there. Making sure girls are educated is a step in the right direction. https://www.ikat.org/

A very thought-provoking post. I think about the men, women and children in Afghanistan and Iraq all the time. I have a great respect for what our service men and women have done. And while I think of all of the great losses on both sides, we can't just depart and leave the many loose ends. This may end up coming back to haunt us--so many on each side have lost their lives. What to do now? We cannot hope to solve centuries of conflict quickly, but we cannot afford to stay in this very complicated situation for much longer either. The hope of peace, the promise of futures for so many women and change itself brings something to live for. And it also comes at a price.

This was so well written. I feel the same, I'm not sure what the right answer is in Afghanistan and so many other places where any human is treated so horrifically.

This really moved me Maureen. I don't think we give a thought to our rights period because we were born with them and can't imagine living any other way. It's heartbreaking to know others that have no choice and worse, no voice.

I worry about the things I know I should be worrying about but don't even know about--and I know there are plenty of those. Too plenty.

I meet a young girl from over in that region and she seriously didn't understand why we (me and some other friends) would go around and tarnish our bodies by wearing nothing. We were wearing decent shirts and shorts! She thought we were not religous because our skin was showing.

It is very sad the things they are taught and have to endure. Unfortunately, some of those people really don't want us over there, even though our presence is allowing progress for them. Lots think that our kind of progress is bad.

Great post! I'll shut up now and leave room for others to comment.

I've been so caught up being worried about Haiti and what's been going on politically in the country that I haven't thought about the Afgan women for a long time. It's an important issue and you're right to bring it up, Maureen. What's even more heartbreaking about it is that, prior to the Taliban taking over, many of those women were professionals with educations, but who were then forced out of their professions.

The last Aga Khan, the leader of the Ismail'is, decided in the 1920s that the best investment in education would be in the girls for they would pass this on to their offspring.
I mention this to point out that the position of women in parts of the Islamic world is cultural and not religious as has been made out.
But what you will have noted is that the position of women corresponds more or less exactly with the harshness of the geographic conditions. Where you need to think in terms of pollution of Women, Wells and Food by men from outside the family/clan/tribal group killing off the group in the process. The first look at Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia explains this in part.

What I cannot figure out in all this is why on earth they do not just buy the poppy resin. It will be far cheaper in lives in the long run to do this than to have the cities of the west flooded with that dirt the Afghan tribes are stock piling or have four or five Army groups sitting atop Hindu Kush.

Worry can definitely kill you. Or at the least, raise your blood pressure, give you ulcers and permanent anxiety.

Of course we should worry about the welfare of the women and children throughout the world (let's face it: the men seem capable of bullying themselves pretty darn well). But I realize that there's comfort in what you know...and for what it's worth, many don't know any other way, so it's "normal" for them.

Yes, I'm one of those ppl that has enough worry/stress in her own backyard to get through many lifetimes. I'm a huge believer in the "denial" method of coping...some days, at least.

As you know I worry about everything. Too often though, I forget about the dispare that is right around the corner. Sometimes, I think we as a county do too. Not to say that other countries don't deserve our help but I wonder if we're really doint enough right in our own backyard. I know we try. The fact that anyone has to feel pain really bothers me. Great post.

When I try to imagine what life is like for females in Afghanistan other countries where they are treated so horribly and daily life is so hard it boggles my mind. Even the poorest Americans have a better standard of living than most of the world. Yes, I do worry.

I,too, worry about the women in Afghanistan. We have direct responsibility for their plight because we promoted the side of the Taliban when the Taliban and their allies opposed the Russians. So the Taliban are powerful in part because of American policy. We have seriously destabilized Afghanistan, and we should at least make sure it is a more stable place that is safe for women before we just walk out.

where do I begin? Iran, Korea, Afghanistan, China. Our environment, economy, the values parents teach their kids, other than that, I'm good

I don't have any answers, but I worry too. A lot actually...considering my daughter will probably be deployed there within the next 6 months.

I can't even begin to imagine what life for the women under the Taliban rule must be like...suffocated and oppressed comes to mind.

There was once a time in the US that "equality for women seemed like a total pipe dream. And remember how it was when people of color were so devalued, whites could not even legally be friends with them? (My stepmother was once investigated by the police for "fraternizing with negros" -- and that was only forty years ago.) I have hope that like things eventually began to change in the US, things will eventually change for women in other countries who live in these appalling situations. And don't forget that it was the women and people of color themselves in the US that really made it happen. I have faith in women around the world.

Ugh, I can't even imagine being one of those women or mothers. It makes you appreciate what we've got here, doesn't it? I do.

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