Twelve Reasons Uganda’s “Kill Gays Bill” Should Be Stopped

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A bill first introduced in 2009 in Uganda that would criminalize homosexuality by life imprisonment and/or death is back on the table. Lawmakers in Uganda are pushing for it to be passed. Rebecca Kadaga, speaker of the Ugandan Parliament said the bill will be passed by the end of the year as a “Christmas gift” to the Ugandan people. If it’s passed, it will then be up to the president to veto it. Otherwise, this bill will be set in place to threaten the full freedom of humanity. It puts gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people in Uganda in even greater danger than they are already in, in addition, it puts everyone in greater danger.

It should be obvious that this bill is horrifying, but there are reasons in addition to the obvious ones why this bill is awful. So…

Here are twelve reasons why this bill is a dangerous step:

1. When homosexuality is against the law to such extreme measures, it puts everyone in a police state mentality. This means that people are afraid to act freely for fear of being reported to someone as homosexual and then forced to prove otherwise. It also puts the burden on the community to either hold a secret or to tell on fellow citizens they know are homosexual or transgender. People may use it to hold it over the heads of others or to threaten people with it.

2. A law of this sort will allow the government to have free range over who they want to kill. All they have to do is make a case that a person was engaged in homosexual activity or did something outside of gender expectations and they can kill them. They could wipe out whole tribes of people if they wanted to, just by saying the people were gay or not conforming appropriately to gender expectations.

3. When people see the law is even more against gay people than it already is, the idea that gay people are bad will be further reinforced and gay people or people who might be considered gay or gender bending at all, youth especially, will be at greater risk for violence.

4. AIDS as an epidemic is not over. In Uganda, it’s pretty large. The UN AIDS report for Uganda estimated that in Uganda, there are 1.2 million people living with AIDS. This includes 150,000 children under the age of fourteen. The UN AIDS report of 2010 estimated 64,000 people died from AIDS in 2009 and 1.2 million children have been orphaned by Uganda’s devastating AIDS epidemic. Uganda has gone to great lengths to educate people, test people, and stop the spread of HIV. If people see homosexuality connected to HIV/AIDS, they won’t get tested and be averse to education about it. People will fear that getting tested will associate them with being gay. What this ultimately means is the efforts to stop the spread of AIDS will slowly be reversed.

5. It is likely that homosexual relationships between men will still exist but no one will identify as gay, pushing sexual relationships to be anonymous and the risk of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV and others will increase.

6. Intimate partner violence will increase as there will be no consequences from police or community members. Homosexual relationships have been illegal for men and women since 2000, but with the consequences of being in a same sex relationship being so great (death or life imprisonment), when there is violence in a relationship, stopping that violence will be even tougher because the people in the couple won’t be able to admit the nature of the relationship.

7. The self esteem of people who are gay and youth who are gay will plummet. Youth will single other youth out for being gay and taunt them even more. Suicide among gay youth will inevitably be a problem.

8. Children will be punished for exploring the world they live in through play. Two-year-old boys who see Mommy wear certain things in her hair or certain shoes will try those things on and be punished because the parents will fear they will be gay and they will not want their child to be killed or jailed.

9. Rape and abuse of children will be seen as sexual acts rather than abuse. When a man sexually abuses a boy, this is not an act of homosexuality, it is child abuse. When a man sexually abuses a girl, this is not an act of heterosexuality, it is child abuse. Concern has already been vocalized about gay people possibly abusing the children of Uganda, though it seems that little has been examined about heterosexual people abusing children.

Rape by men of men and women of women will go unreported, putting more people at risk of being raped. When someone is raped by someone else of the same sex, they will not want to report the crime because they will fear they will be seen as gay or they may believe the perpetrator targeted them because thought they were gay. Even if the victim is not gay, they will very possibly question their own sexuality. Also, because the perpetrator may be of the same sex, rape of someone of the same sex does not mean the perpetrator is gay. This will also confuse the question of rape as sexual act rather than an act of violence.

10. Anyone who is not married will be at risk. Anyone who has associated with someone thought of as gay will be at risk. Women who have turned down marriage proposals or who leave abusive relationships and have women friends will be at risk. The list goes on.

11. This law will cause people, even if slightly, to push and act out even stricter gender roles. An enactment of stricter, more traditional, gender roles means a backwards step for women (and men). This inevitably means men will feel the need to be more in control of women and women will have to be at the mercy of men. Everyone will have to prove to everyone else that they are not gay or transgender by exaggerating outdated oppressive gender roles. The stricter the gender roles in place, the greater the possibility for violence to keep people in line.

12. The many gays, lesbians, and transgender Ugandans are at risk, not only of having any level of freedom, but of losing their lives- just for being who they are.

There is a petition circulating through Change.org asking Citibank and Barclays, two of the world’s largest banks, to publicly denounce the anti-gay bill in Uganda and say they don’t support the bill. Both banks have big bucks and big business invested in Uganda. Both are also known for supporting their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender clients and protecting them from discrimination. The hope is if they speak out against the bill or even take further action against it, maybe Uganda will consider the economic impact the country will face because of the companies opposition to it. Switzerland threatened three years ago to pull funding from Uganda if the bill passed. Financially, the bill doesn’t seem smart for Uganda, but ethically it doesn’t either. To sign the petition to Citibank and Barclays, please check out the link here. PETITION.

Tracking Saudi Women like Prisoners

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The Saudi Arabian government doesn’t need to put ankle bracelets on Saudi women to track them because apparently, they already track them electronically.

Manal al-Sharif, the Saudi woman who advocated last year for Saudi women to drive, began tweeting about the tracking of Saudi women when she received text messages from a couple of friends recently about how one was contacted about the other leaving the country when they were both leaving together. He hadn’t registered with the Interior Ministry to receive these notifications, which previously guardians had to request.

This past week, Saudi women’s “guardians” began to receive messages from the government notifying them if the woman under their guard has left the country. First of all, why a woman needs a “guardian” is beyond me, other than to keep her from being hurt from a dangerous woman hating world. Second, I’d say this electronic tracking is even more powerful than an ankle bracelet. A woman can believe she has certain freedoms or that she left the country without a hitch, but little does she know, her “guardian” is being alerted.

What if she is trying to get away from her guardian? What if she doesn’t want him to know? What if she doesn’t want a guardian? What if she doesn’t want to live under a society where she can only do anything with a guardian?

Strict rules that don’t allow men and women to have contact, don’t allow women to take public transportation so they must be driven by guardians, male relatives, or drivers though not everyone can afford a driver. Guardians seem to be key to Saudi women being able to do much of anything without getting into trouble.

Manal al-Sharif told CNN about the electronic tracking, “It shows how women are still being treated as minors.”

When you boil it all down, her statement is at the heart of gender equality and women’s rights. When it is believed that women are not equal, we are treated like property and as if we cannot function on our own. Saudi Arabia has many strong women, like Manal al-Sharif, fighting for the rights of women in Saudi Arabia, in the Arab world, and worldwide, but they are being treated like they are children, like they are property, and like they are incapable.

In the United States women are also treated like minors in many ways, perhaps not to the extreme that the women in Saudi Arabia face, but we are still infantilized (made to be childlike or seen as children).

6 Ways we infantilize women in the United States:

1. We argue about whether women can make decisions for their bodies or not- around birth control, abortion, and healthcare
2. We call women sluts and put women down when women speak up
3. When women are raped we blame them.
4. When women are beaten and caught in a cycle of violence, we ask why they didn’t leave.
5. We dress women in baby-doll dresses and push childish clothing on women in pornography and in fashion.
6. We have government offices where we make decisions about women and laws that affect women, without having any women involved.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we are in a situation at all like Saudi Arabia, I am saying, we must all continue to fight to assure women have rights and are not treated like minors, like creatures less than human, or like someone’s property.

Women need to be able to make decisions for our bodies. Whether that means we can drive. Whether that means we want to breastfeed or not (if we can). Whether we have sex or not. About what we wear…

It is not only dangerous for women’s independence and freedom, to not have full equal rights to men, but also to our autonomy and physical safety.

The Saudi government is incredibly misogynist, but the root of their thinking is that women are not equal. This is the root of all oppression of women everywhere, here in the United States as well. We are not minors. We are not less than. We are not incapable. We must continue to demand to be seen as equal and for our rights and responsibilities to be nothing less.

Let Me Thank You!

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I want to use this opportunity to give thanks, so I hate to preface it with anything. I will, however, in order to recognize that while today is a day celebrated by many across America as Thanksgiving, a day to give thanks, and to remember what we are thankful for, for many others, it’s a day that celebrates the colonization and genocide of Native Americans. Some have renamed it Thanks-taking, as in, thanks for taking what wasn’t yours.

Keeping these dichotomies of giving and taking in mind, I want to say thank you to everyone in the fight against oppression. Thank you for working to make change.

Thank you to you all for reading my blog over this past year and a few months.

Thank you to all who work actively to combat sexism.

Thank you to all who work toward gender equality.

Thank you to all who, in daily interactions, counter all forms of oppression.

Thank you to all who work for justice and equality of all people in our society.

Thank you to all who speak out against sexual violence, including street harassment, rape, and childhood sexual abuse.

Thank you to all who speak out against intimate partner violence and domestic violence.

Thank you to all who speak out against and work to eradicate all gender based violence.

Thank you to all who stand for human rights.

Thank you to all who stand for equal rights among all people.

Thank you to all who stand for equal rights for people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer.

Thank you to all who stand for women’s right to make their own decisions for their bodies and lives.

Thank you to all who fight against patriarchy.

Thank you to all who stand for the right for all of us to have healthcare.

Thank you for remembering this nation was built on the deaths of many and from the enslavement of many. Remembering, we are less likely to repeat our history.

There are so many reasons to give thanks. What are yours?

Thanks!

 

International Men’s Day Is Today and Universal Children’s Day Is Tomorrow!

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Happy International Men’s Day (November 19th) and tomorrow Happy International Children’s Day!

I want to use this opportunity to say Thank you to the men in my life who are helping make this world a better place for all of us to be.

You might ask: Why have an international men’s day? Isn’t every day men’s day?

Men get a lot of privilege from the patriarchal system we live under, but men are also hurt by that system. The system puts men in a situation where they are perpetrators of violence. It makes it seem “unmanly” to express feelings, to get help for emotional difficulties/ problems (because they should be able to handle them, they’re men), and to be the best fathers they can be because of the expectancy that men will be breadwinners and that childrearing/caretaking is seen as a woman’s job.

International Men’s Day is a time to recognize men’s and boy’s health and mental health issues, work to improve gender relations, work to promote gender equality, and highlighting positive male role models. It is a day to celebrate the wonderful things men have done and do currently and explore how violence between men, perpetrated by men, and involving men can end.

Universal Children’s Day is tomorrow, November 20, which comes at a great time following Men’s Day. Men are more and more involved in childcare and in relationships with their children. It’s wonderful to have men involved in children’s lives. Children see positive male role models, ways men act, and learn to interact appropriately with men and as men without violence.

The date 20 November, marks the day in 1959 on which the Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989. The Declaration declares that children shall enjoy the benefits of social security, shall be entitled to grow and develop in health, the right to adequate nutrition, housing, recreation and medical services, the opportunity for education. It says children shall be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation. They shall not be the subject of trafficking, in any form. They shall not be admitted to employment before an appropriate minimum age and shall be protected from racial, religious, or any other form of discrimination.

This week is most commonly known as the week when Thanksgiving happens in the U.S. Know it also as a time to celebrate men and children as well as the ways they come together and the ways the world is better for them and to give thanks.

We must work together for men to live healthier lives, to be able to access difficult emotions, and to stop violence against women, children, and other men. We must work together for gender equality and for our children to see this and benefit from it in their own development feeling valued and appreciated no matter their gender.

Normalizing Breastfeeding When It Should Already Be Normal

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Boobs, Chi-chis, Hooters, Jugs. There’s a million names for women’s breasts, there’s even websites about the many names. Most of the names describe women being in the world for men’s pleasure. But really, breasts were made to provide food to babies.

Women’s breasts have been so “all over the place” (in the media) that when women breastfeed, sometimes it’s hard for people to accept. They’re so used to sexualizing women’s breasts, that they think it’s inappropriate for women to breastfeed in public or that catching sight of a breast when a baby is eating from it is public indecency.

Fortunately the laws in 45 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location. This means, where women go, they have the right to breastfeed.

So, why am I still bringing it up?

Women are still getting flack for it. I live in Austin, Texas and a woman here was  waiting for her son in the lobby of the neighborhood elementary school in Austin Independent School District (AISD), she was discretely nursing her baby when she was told to go to a private conference room. She knows that under Texas law, she has the right to breastfeed in public, but apparently the public schools don’t. Or they don’t care or just don’t think it’s appropriate in a space where children might see it and get the idea that it’s normal. They’ve apparently taken the law into their own hands.

The woman has started an awareness campaign to get AISD to change their rules and set up a website to raise awareness and get things changed. Check it out here: Keep Austin Nursing in Public and call AISD, even if you don’t live here or anywhere near Texas. This is the phone number: (512) 414- 1700.

 

I am sure she’s not alone in her experience, but she’s someone who is speaking out. As women we must keep fighting for the right to breastfeed our babies where we need to do that, but the even larger fight is taking our bodies back.

This sounds funny, but: How can we “take back our breasts?”

They’re mammary glands for feeding children. That said, we don’t want it to swing too far, not everyone can or wants to breastfeed. It can’t be mandatory mommy’ing, but we need to have the say so. We need to be able to say whether we breastfeed and where we do it. If a baby needs to eat, you can’t always look for a private place, nor do you want to. If you did, half the time you’d be in seclusion.

I remember when my son was a young baby. If we went out to eat, he would inevitably be asleep and wake up crying right when the food came. No joke, it happened every time. I don’t know if it was the smell of the food or if he knew I was hungry and psyched to eat and decided he wanted to also or what, but if I had to leave and go breastfeed somewhere else, it would have been really annoying, I would have missed out on the meal, and my food would have been cold. Essentially, I might as well have stayed home.

What I’m saying is this: it’s not only not practical for a mother to have to go somewhere else to feed her child, it also takes away a woman’s right to make decisions about her body. Those decisions include whether we breastfeed, where we breastfeed, how we breastfeed (like if we cover ourselves or not).

We must begin to look at women as whole, without objectifying us and our breasts, that way, we will be able to live our lives, feed our children, be fully human, without everyone but us having opinions about our bodies.

Brothel Owner and County Commissioner- A Conflict of Interest? Hmmm

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The Mustang Ranch, just miles outside of Reno, Nevada was the first legalized brothel in 1971. This led to the legalization of brothel prostitution in 10 of 17 counties in Nevada. Mustang Ranch became Nevada’s largest brothel and the most profitable. It closed in 1999 and was re-opened five miles away in 2005 with a new owner. The current Mustang Ranch brothel owner is Lance Gilman. He also is sales and marketing director of the nearby 107,000-acre Tahoe Reno Industrial Center, which touts itself as the world’s largest such facility. Guess what? Now he’s in politics. Is it a conflict of interest?

In the election last week, Gilman defeated fellow Republican Mathew Conley 62 percent to 38 percent Tuesday to win a seat on the Storey County commission. Gilman will represent the district covering the northern part of the county where his brothel is located.

As a County Commissioner, “you are authorized and required to make policy for the county. Policy-making means defining high-level goals and long-range outcomes for county government. This includes choosing the direction, the ways and the means to achieve those outcomes and to guide the decision making process leading to them.”

No one seems to see him being in this postion as a problem, but when I first heard about his newly elected position last week, I cringed. He touts himself as a “small business owner,” whatever that means, considering the money flowing through, but whatever- he’s in the business of selling women to men for sex.

Legalized prostitution has its pros and cons. Having it legal can be safer for the women working in prostitution and it can give those women more rights, but there are also cons. Prostitution creates a setting where crimes against women become a commercial enterprise- it’s impossible to entirely protect someone whose source of income exposes them to the possibility of rape. In both rape and prostitution, women are viewed as sexual objects for men. Those objects can either be bought or stolen.

Having a person who profits from a brothel in a position to make policy for where that brothel resides is absolutely a conflict of interest. He will be able to change the laws to meet the needs of his business. Those laws could inevitably negatively affect the women working at those brothels. It is dangerous for him to be in that position of government and irresponsible for it to be allowed.

Policy-making describes outcomes; it describes what you want. How your ideas are realized is administration.”

It’s inevitable that Lance Gillman will make decisions that favor his business- which is legally profiting from women working in prostitution. It’s a conflict of interest for him to be in the position he is now in. Hopefully that won’t jeopardize the safety of the women working there in that county and in his “ranch.”

What the election brought

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Everyone has been buzzing with post election hype and whether their joy or frustration is up, this election affirmed something for me about the nation.  America is one nation and we are together on many things, but we are being divided on issues around people’s human rights and we are being told it’s about morality. Unfortunately, many of us are buying that.

For many the election was about the economy. For me it was about rights and I know I’m not the only one. In fact, people came out in hoards to say they too believe the nation needs to uphold people’s human rights.

The obvious win was Obama. This win was a clear demonstration of America’s concerns about those human rights because Obama has assured rights will be safeguarded while Romney vowed to shut them down!

Same sex marriage and abortion were both on the table. Both of these issues are about people’s human rights. Do same sex couples have the right to marry who they choose? Do women have the right to make decisions for their own bodies? Keep in mind, making decisions for our bodies includes not only whether we have an abortion or not, but also what we wear, whether we want to be beaten up or not, whether we want to have sex or not…

And speaking of rape, Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock both lost. Marked with an official L to the forehead. Losers! We don’t need people promoting the idea that women are responsible for rape or that only some rape is real. We need to work to eradicate rape, not brush it aside.

Florida defeated Amendment 6, which would have prohibited the use of public funds for abortions except as required by federal law and to save the mother’s life. It also would have opened the doors to things like mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds if abortion weren’t outlawed. Surprising to me, but awesome- Florida stood up for women’s rights!

Women, who have been very absent from the political table, took more seats in government and the political scene, assuring human rights are maintained and equal rights a goal.

New Hampshire set women as the helm of their state governance as they elected two women representatives, two women senators, and a governor, who… wait for it… is a woman. Yes!

Elizabeth Warren, who helps Democrats keep control of the Senate and who is a strong support of the Democratic Party, won election in Massachusetts.

If I were a cheerleader, I would be doing a cheer already. Human rights- Hurrah! I am doing a happy dance, but wait, there’s more!

Hawaii elected Japan-born Mazie Hirono to be the first ever Asian-American woman elected to the Senate. Impressive! They also elected Democrat Tulsi Gabbard as the first ever practicing Hindu to the US House of Representatives. And she’s swearing in over the Bhagavad Gita. That shakes things up a bit!

Tammy Baldwin became the first openly lesbian woman to be elected to the US Congress.

Speaking  of lesbians, same sex marriage was legalized in Maryland and Maine, allowing more families protection and more couples recognition under the law, when they have not had that recognition and protection before. Alright! And Minnesota voted down an amendment to protect marriage as something between men and women, hopefully paving the way for same sex marriage legalization in that state!

So, a lot of good stuff for human rights, for women, for our nation! But keep your eyes open and your feet ready to move locally and nationally because it has been a rough fight, but it’s not over. Radical right wing anti-human rights groups are still working on pushing their agendas and they aren’t going away. We need to be vigilant about who we elect into our government, what their interests are and whether they reflect who we are as a nation.

 

Are Hot-Button Topics Really What It’s About?

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So, election day is tomorrow. I have a theory.

Both parties (as in the main ones- Democrats and Republicans) reside in a Capitalist country. But, each have different ways of looking at economics, or at least, different beneficiaries. 

To gain power, they have chosen hot-button topics like abortion and rights of same-sex couples to divide the nation so it’s easier to be in favor of one or another and for the nation to be divided. 

In fact, I think neither party really cares about a woman’s right to an abortion. Not as a way of maintaining her autonomy. If it was such a big deal for Republicans to lower abortion rates, they would not advocate for restricting birth control or abstinence education. It is just an issue that sells votes. Same with same-sex marriage, it’s an issue that sells votes.

But what about the people suffering because of these issues put up for argument. Same sex couples who are unable to legally marry, like lesbian couples whose children have to be adopted by the parent who didn’t carry them because their relationship is not recognized.

What about the teenagers who are uninformed about sex, so they have sex without protection and contact a disease, become pregnant, or kill themselves because they are pregnant and see no way out?

What about women? Our bodies are being used as a battleground for voting. We have been called sluts and told that when we are raped it’s not legitimate if it’s not “forcible” or if we get pregnant from it….. What does that do to our rights as people? What does all of this do to raise the level of violence against women?

What about our nation? Are we more divided because these two arrogant political parties have insisted we be that way so that the economic benefits of certain individuals can be maintained?

First we must vote. Then we must demand better government not just based on Capitalist interests. And we must continue to fight for our nation to be great.

Or, maybe both parties are really the same thing and this is all a ruse to make us think as a nation that we’re so “democratic.” Hmm.

Doesn’t matter- Go Vote!

Almost Election Time

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Happy November! I just voted and it feels great! Vote Vote Vote!

I missed a post on Monday. I knew I missed it at the time, but with Sandy hitting down on the east coast and Halloween celebrations and almost election time, I just didn’t quite get there. Either way, this post is going to be short and sweet.

Aside from Sandy, Halloween, and NaNoWriMo (which I’m still not sure if I’m doing), I’ve been thinking a lot about women’s rights, women’s healthcare, and women’s autonomy.  Maintaining my own autonomy is especially important because I like to be able to make decisions for myself and my body. I want other women to have that freedom as well, it grows self esteem and strength.

Then there’s the hot topic of abortion. I don’t really care if you are against abortion, this isn’t really about abortion. It’s about whether women will be able to make decisions for their own bodies or whether the government will.

Roe v Wade is a landmark decision in our nation’s history that gives women the opportunity to make choices for her body, that says a woman has the right to have a safe and legal abortion or that she doesn’t have to if she doesn’t want to.

People who are against Roe v Wade are essentially against women being able to make decisions for themselves.  If you say it should be illegal, you are saying women are incapable of making the decision to have one or not.

With the election coming up, all kinds of people say women are interested in the economy. Of course we are. But you know what, we are also interested in having autonomy over ourselves, our lives, our bodies. I am voting from my body, because one piece of that autonomy is being able to vote, which also includes whether I can make decisions about whether I want an abortion or not.

Mitt Romney’s party has been clear about wanting to overturn Roe V Wade. Romney states on his website that for him the next step is the Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade. This tells me his interests are not in women’s autonomy. He did say to a group of people in Ohio, that he would make an exception on abortion “where the life of his campaign was at stake.” In the debates, he said that he would be okay with women who have been raped and were pregnant from that rape, having abortions. What I worry about with that is: will those women then have to prove that they were really raped or that the rape was “forcible rape”- which by the definition of rape, all rape is forcible rape, but whatever!

Randi Saunders writes about this issue on her blog The Radical Idea, check it out! She lays out her concerns really well! It is chilling to think of a rape survivor having to prove they were raped in order to have an abortion.

I feel good about having voted! I voted for women. I voted for equality. This seems like a battle because it’s election time, but unfortunately, whatever happens next week after all the votes are tallied, this will still be a battle. The rights of women are not secure and there will be people working worldwide to control women and keep us down. We must continue the fight for equality for all people. But for now, Please, Go vote!

Grrl Code: Exercise your right- we fought for it, we won it! Vote!

 

All the Violence Against Girls is a Symptom

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There is a worldwide femicide going on against girls, where girls are being killed just for being girls, but the violence is a symptom of how our world views women and girls. In order to stop the violence, we must make significant lasting change about how we see girls.

Writing about ten and twelve year old girls being brutally killed and threatened is not only heartbreaking, but it’s also horrifying. Until it stops, it is necessary. But, believe me, I would rather read and write about how girls are progressing in school or about some of the amazing things they are doing.

Following are the names of four girls. Two are dead, one is in a hospital, and the other’s life has been threatened.

Autumn Pasquale- Just the other day, 12 year old Autumn was lured by a teenage boy into his house under the guise of getting parts for her bicycle and then, with his older brother, killed her.

Jessica Ridegeway- She was a ten year old murdered and dismembered by an older teenager who recently came forward to admit he did it.

Malala Yousafzai is the 15 year old Pakistani girl who blogged and spoke out about how the Taliban has closed down schools and continues to keep girls from getting education. They shot her about two weeks ago. Luckily she was airlifted to a hospital in Britain, the bullet removed from her head, and she is recovering.

Hina Khan is a girl, believed to be 16 years old, whose house was graffitied with a red X, which she says is from the Taliban warning about her speaking out for girls’ education. She has also received death threats like Malala.

These girls are only a few examples of how violence is affecting us all, especially girls and women. Lives of girls aren’t valued. Women’s lives aren’t valued. Girls and women are so objectified by the media, by the laws passed restricting rights, and by messages given by politicians and churches about girls’ and women’s bodies and lives. When girls and women are objectified, we are seen as NOT human and violence against us goes up.

If we want to save our girls and women, we must begin to de-objectify them. We must see girls and women as people.

Of course we do that, you say. But do we? Girls are paraded around like dolls for TV reality shows, they are given messages on all extremes: they should show off their bodies because they are only valued for them, they should cover themselves up, they should save themselves until they’re married, they should have sex, they should be thin, fat is ugly, they are not as smart as boys,… the list goes on.

We must teach girls to value themselves. We must value girls. We must value women. Women need to be able to make decisions for their own bodies. Women need to be paid equally to men. Women need to be able to have childcare options. Women need to be able to have healthcare and access to it.

Girls need to see that they are valued. They need to see the women they will grow into are valued. Girls being hurt and threatened is a symptom of the larger problem. If we want to save our girls, save our women, we must value them.

For these girls and all girls and women who have been victims of violence, let’s change this system that puts girls and women at risk!

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