Gender Violence is Hard to Swallow


On the day after Thanksgiving, I came across a horrendous story about a young woman in Afghanistan. Posted by author/journalist Nicholas Kristof, the story was about Gulnaz, a 19-year-old girl who, after being raped in 2009 and impregnated by her rapist, was sentenced to 12 years in jail and accused of adultery. The accounts vary slightly, but it seems the Afghanistan law is forcing Gulnaz, now 21, to choose between enduring the prison term with her baby or marrying her rapist. Not only a horrific choice for her, but also a risky one, since her freedom will make her vulnerable to an honor killing by either her rapist’s family or her own.

I also discovered that the same day I read about Gulnaz — November 25 — was ironically the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, a day the UN created in 1999 to commemorate three women from the Dominican Republic. The Mirabal sisters were ruthlessly assassinated back in 1960 for their activism against the Trujillo regime, and have since “become a symbol against victimization of women.” As I nibbled on leftover turkey and sweet potatoes, I found it difficult to swallow that today, over fifty years since the assassination of those Dominican women and more than a decade since this United Nations day was established, violence against women still quietly rages across the globe.

In countries like Afghanistan, the gender violence is not only raging, it may be increasing. The Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan says that there have been 2,433 cases of violence against women in the past six months, compared to a total of 2,725 cases registered over last year. Human rights organizations are flooded with stories of women murdered and raped, of domestic violence and honor killings. A battered wife can serve a longer jail term than a suicide bomber.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is meant to launch 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, ending on December 10, International Human Rights Day — to emphasize the link between women’s rights and human rights. More than 250 events are planned worldwide — from marches and student training sessions to arts events and cultural exhibitions. Rather than just despairing about the state of women in the world, perhaps I should feel thankful that there are organizations devoted to raising awareness and educating the public, and that there are so many people who care.

Related Stories:

Afghan Woman First Raped, Then Charged with Adultery — EU Bans Documentary

Journalist Mona Eltahawy Assaulted, Beaten in Cairo

Ending Sex Trafficking One Brothel At a Time

Photo credit: Emmanuel Huybrechts


Fiona T.
Past Member 5 years ago

This is a difficult problem since it inv

SeattleAnn S.
Ann S6 years ago

It's reprehensible how many long, recent years we've occupied Afghanistan and yet there were obviously no attempts at educating the local community on human rights violations of this magnitude against women.

Mana-Rayne A.
Mana-Rayne A.6 years ago

Shuddered while I read this article. I can't imagine having to make such a choice.

Evelyn A Keyes
Evelyn A Keyes6 years ago

Absolutely horrific. Disgraceful behaviour. Terrifying choices.

It wasn't her fault. She didn't do anything wrong. Imaging coming home, then being kidnapped, then being forced to "Get in bed" with a stranger, then probably being killed OR having a baby. And then being forced with the choice that you hate more than anything - To be free and a wife of the person who caused you that harm, or to stay with your newborn child, IN A PRISON.

I am sad to say I have experienced some of this in my lifetime, and it is not pretty.

It is just about as fun as being tortured, then having your teeth and fingernails pulled out one by one, and being beaten and hung, and starved.

To choose between freedom and your child is something I will never wish to even my worst enemy - Because to me, the answer is my child. Nothing would make me leave her behind, and i hope someday you will think the same.

I am so sorry for you poor women out there.

Never fear, your captors will be PUNISHED SEVERELY FOR WHAT THEY DID.

Rest in peace on the arms of the four winds.

bob m.
bob m6 years ago

As to swallowing and turkeys.... about swallowing a camel.

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Kathy M.
Kathy M.6 years ago

Interesting. Apparently violence against animals is NOT hard for the author to swallow since she's nibbling on leftover turkey. Maybe she should take a hard look at herself before criticizing others.

Emma S.
Emma S6 years ago

Denise L says everything I would like to say, eloquently and without the swearing.

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle6 years ago

I'm sure that other women reading this, are feeling just like me -- furious and impotent to stop these crimes. I do not honor "cultural differences" when they involve murder, rape, forced marriages, child brides, the victim being punished instead of the criminal, proscribed dress for women. This world is crazy and religion has a HUGE part in these injustices.

jerry coleman
jerry coleman6 years ago

We need to look at our country we got freaks here that would love to see women as they were in the old days and we are headed back that way and women you are not alone I may have to learn how to tap dance.