Sunday, March 8, 2009

End violence against women now

Today is International Women's Day. To mark it, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for an end to violence against women. Calling it an "abomination." Ban (right; photo credit) said:
The consequences of violence go beyond the visible and immediate. . . .The impact on women and girls, their families, their communities and their societies in terms of shattered lives and livelihoods is beyond calculation. . . .Violence against women cannot be tolerated, in any form, in any context, in any circumstance, by any political leader or by any government.
An encouraging report in this regard from Afghanistan notes that progress is being made in that country, where the centuries-old tradition of forced marriages means that girls and women seeking to escape abusive marriages risk being thrown in jail for being on the street alone or being returned to her husband. Though advocates say that women are still commonly victims of beatings, torture and trafficking, the 2001 overthrow of the Taliban has led to women's rights entering the vocabulary as the new Afghanistan Constitution and Ministry of Women's Affairs have, along with women's advocates, helped to promote greater equality for women. And since the first women's shelter opened in 2003, at least some of the girls and women like one named Mariam, forced to marry a 41-year-old man when she was 11 and beaten for not conceiving a child, have a safe place to go.

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