Saturday, December 24, 2011

Is "Gender Equality" Really Possible in the World As We Know It?

Do American efforts to teach "gender equality" in third world countries make a difference?  The American government and American contractors are seeking gender equality experts to teach Afghanis how to treat their women. I have read tales of Afghani women imprisoned for adultery or fornication after being raped by an acquaintance.  

Recently a young woman jailed in Afghanistan was forced to agree to marry her rapist in order to gain her freedom from prison.  I watched a documentary on HBO entitled "Pink Saris" in which "untouchable" women were routinely beaten and raped by the in-laws with whom they were forced to live.  Recent reports in the United States indicate that one in four women in the United States are victims of sexual assault and this is hardly a third world country. 

I discovered years after the fact that a woman who is very close to me was raped by a former boyfriend. This woman, by all outside appearances is strong willed and appears able to fend for herself.  Yet, she was sexually assaulted and I never suspected at the time. By the time I found out, three or more years later, there was nothing I could do. Or was there?  Could I have prevented the assault?  I am haunted by these doubts. 

If I couldn't prevent a sexual assault of someone close to me in the United States, am I capable of making a difference in a culture where sexual assault is fairly accepted by those in charge?  Can anyone make a difference?  Maybe, over decades or centuries, sexual victimization will be rare. It's common now, and it pains me to realize this.  

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