Women as Humans

August 9, 2012
A sliver of light shines through translucent curtains and illuminates a bruised face with deep set eyes radiating despair. She always knew her life would be like this. It was her mother’s life, her aunt’s, her neighbor’s, and her grandmother’s as well. It’s been this way for as long as anyone can remember. Yet she can’t help but yearn for more. For a life unencumbered by dated oppressive traditions and an existence where she has a voice that can be heard and respected outside the safety of her own mind. She does not wish to be treated as a man. Her only wish is to be treated as a human and to have those unalienable rights she was endowed with (as she is human) extended to her.

This fictional woman is only fiction on paper. Her plight is understood by women across the world. All cultures are guilty of the oppression of women, from the United States to Uganda. Not one country is innocent. This sin varies in severity from denial of equal pay to genital mutilation. Many first world countries have progressed to less violent forms of discrimination and are on their way to embracing women as equal members of the human race. However, women in less developed areas are still subject to extreme brutality in the name of tradition. Cultural customs like stoning a woman for being accused of infidelity, imprisonment for their own sexual assault, and female genital mutilation (most frequently practiced on young girls aged 0-15) are hard realities many women face. Practices like these treat women in an animalistic fashion; they stem from the idea that women are sub-human and require brutish force to control.

We live in a world where tolerance is the norm and the expectation is to leave cultures to live as they choose. This is a commendable concept and one that should be adhered to. However, tolerance and acceptance should not be blind to barbaric traditions like these. The battered woman described does not always have to be so. Her wounds will heal and she may begin to speak as she only dared to dream. Just as we involve ourselves in violations of human rights, we must deal with violation of women’s rights. They are not mutually exclusive. To be a woman is to be a member of the human race and no human deserves savagery reserved for these women.

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