To ask the average American what is at the top of women?s rights issues in the world today, they might jump to discussions of pay inequality, employment gaps or women?s right to choose. In America, that?s what many feminists like to discuss as some of the greatest issues facing the world today in terms of women?s rights.
I am a woman. And as a woman, I have questioned for many years whether those assumptions are wildly misguided or right on the money. After reading a recent news article, though, the truth became clear.
Reported by TheBlaze.com in late June was the story of Nadia Murad, a young Yazidi woman from Iraq who escaped ISIS captivity in 2014. A former sex slave of ISIS, Murad appeared before Congress asking the U.S. government to fight against the radical terrorist group with more fervency, and detailed the horrific accounts of her capture, as well as the capture and torture of thousands of other Yazidi and Christian women living in ISIS-controlled Arab territories.
Sadly, Murad?s story is just one of many. The number of women and young girls, who, in many Middle Eastern countries, are raped, sold into sex slavery, tortured, forced into marriage and even killed in the name of Islamic extremism are growing daily.
After reading this article, I began digging deeper to see what more I could find on this issue. Sadly, the number of news packages produced on this problem is horribly disproportionate and it seems political heads on both sides of the aisle don?t find it important to generate enough support for these women and girls on the other side of the world. I did, however, happen upon one particular nugget of information that gave me insight to where many governments stand on injustice against women in the Middle East.
In March of last year, the United Nations (UN) released its annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) report. Within the report, only one of the UN?s 193 members were cited for infringements of women?s rights, and it wasn?t Murad?s home country of Iraq. No, in fact, it was Israel.
Now, for those that might not be up to date on many Middle Eastern countries? cultures and how they relate to women, let me fill you in. In many Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Yemen and Iran, women are not seen on the same level as men. For example, women are often forced to wear ultra-modest clothing and headdresses, and can be severely punished or even put to death for failing to comply with these rules without trial. In Sudan, the legal age of marriage for girls is as young as 10 years old. Iran does not allow for female judges or female presidential candidates. In Syria, Fox News reported that in 2014, the Assad regime starved, tortured and/or killed at least 24,000 civilians (many of those women and young children). Genital mutilation and ?honor? killings of women in various Middle Eastern countries is still widely practiced. The list goes on and on.
In Israel, however, women can drive, vote, wear whatever clothing they want, freely file for divorce from their spouse, have the right to a fair trial, pursue any level of education they so desire, openly practice any religion they want and can travel abroad independently. In short, Israel?s treatment of women reflects that of America?s treatment of women more than any other Middle Eastern country. In the rest of the Arab world, however, women can legally be treated as second-class citizens in many respects, and be subject to unspeakable abuses and injustices that most Americans can?t even fathom.
I also hasten to add that according to the 2014 World Economic Forum report and Ynetnews, Israel ranked 57th out of 137 for ?female political empowerment?. America ranked 54th in the same report, and Saudi Arabia ranked 117th. Furthermore, over 20 of Israel?s 120 Knesset members are women.
And yet, of all the UN?s 193 members, it was only Israel that was cited for infringements on women?s rights. The resolution, which was adopted 27-2, was reportedly co-sponsored by Palestinians. The United States and Israel were the only two countries in the 45-member commission to vote against it. All the European Union members abstained from the vote.
Now, this is not all meant to say that countries like Israel or ours are perfect. Women are victims of violence in the U.S. and Israel, too, but none of the violence women face in these countries is legal or dismissed without legal investigation when reported. In fact, in both countries, a woman?s right to lawful justice and medical care are already well-established.
So, where was the American public?s outcry when this CSW report was issued last year? When were America?s feminists holding rallies and launching Facebook campaigns in support of Israel and Middle Eastern women?s right to live unmolested instead of holding marches at our nation?s capitol about whether or not it should be legal for women in this country to legally kill their own babies before they are born? I bet some of you reading this hadn?t even heard of this report until now.
The sad truth is that I don?t see our government making wise, significant and meaningful moves to truly back Israel and put a stop to radical Islamists? treatment of women like Murad. In March, Secretary of State John Kerry likened ISIS? brutality to genocide, while also supporting President Obama?s dangerous deals with Iran ? a country who?s leaders largely don?t support laws that respect and validate a woman?s worth. We have many in our government who can?t even call ISIS by what it truly is and who can?t take the necessary actions needed to cement America?s footing as a country that truly fights for and defends the basic rights of all human beings ? no matter their race, religion, physical ability or gender.
We, as a nation, have to start coming alongside other countries like Israel who are also upholding the same standards that we want our daughters and granddaughters to live by, while also calling out other countries who seek to diminish and abolish those same principles and standards.
If we as a country say we truly value women, it should be our only choice.