Is it really 2013? I ask the question because I keep reading things that make me think I am living in the 1950s, or even 1820s. Over the past few months, stories about women in Islamic countries and the poor treatment they are subjected to has been hitting the media.
I have travelled through Iran, Pakistan, India and Indonesia. Each of these countries (particularly Iran) has a strong Islamic faith. I have experienced firsthand what it is like to be ‘not seen’ because of my gender. I have experienced what it is like to be treated differently because I am a woman and to be aware that I am constantly at risk if I do not have a trustworthy man with me. I recall being told, when we entered Iran, that women should not look men in the eyes. To do so means you want to have sex with them and they can then do with you as they please. Can you imagine a rape case coming to court in the UK, Australia or the US where the man’s defence was ‘she looked me in the eyes’? Not that these cases get to court. The women who are subjected to such disgraceful acts have a much worse fate than being questioned in a witness box.
I read today about Indonesia and Aceh town’s plan to bring in a new law banning women from straddling motorcycles. They are bringing in this law to encourage women to wear skirts instead of trousers and to apparently ‘honour women with this ban, because they are delicate creatures’. Are they so delicate that they can be asked to ride side saddle and therefore risk coming off a motorcycle and dying? Shouldn’t a delicate creature be put in the safest position possible and protected at all costs? Women are not delicate. We deserve to be treated as equals and with respect. I fear bringing in a law such as this, demotes women’s place in society and makes men feel superior and powerful, a feeling that unfortunately, over time, then leads to attacks such as the one in India earlier this week.
The unnamed Indian woman was brutally gang raped. The horrific nature of the attack has sickened people around the world and caused protests. India is now looking at implementing a new law and trying to make things safer for women. It will take time and strict implementation of laws to change attitudes but at least India, unlike Aceh town, is going in the right direction.
Today’s #fmsphotoaday is “the view from here”. My view is of a world where people are treated the same no matter what race, gender, sexuality or whatever else they have going on. I wish that view were the same for everyone, everywhere today.
It is 2013 and it is up to each of us individually to take a stand against inequality. This is my year and this is me trying to help by spreading the word and giving the women who are denied it, a voice.