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November 15, 2014

Global crisis of feminine

“Violence against women is the most prevalent and the most hidden injustice in the world.” 
Jim Wallis, Sojourners Magazine

By Prf. Arthur Scott

An underlying source of global/domestic conflict can be traced to the tension between masculine/feminine energies.  These energies are universal, found in each person as well as permeating all cultures regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, and nationality.  Ideally male/female energies are meant to be complementary and not antagonistic or in conflict.  When masculine/feminine energies act harmoniously, they generate deep experiences of peace, balance and awe.  In a family/group setting, they are the touchstone of collaboration, cooperation, and creativity.  Unfortunately, the world has gone mad, politically, ecologically and psychologically excoriating the feminine and targeting women.

This global assault on the feminine comes from an outdated paradigm of patriarchy and hierarchy that goes back to the Indo-European and Semitic warriors who overran the goddess cultures with their horses/swords in southwestern Asia by 1500 BCE culminating with the collapse of Crete. The goddess cultures had been established on a natural balance between male and female in which social equilibrium and not domination prevailed.  Chieftains and the sword (then guns) now ruled.

Sexism was an integral part of this paradigm shift to the warrior ethos. Women were no longer seen as equal to men, as partners, as human beings, but were reduced to chattel, commodities, to be bought and sold and traded as objects of derision. Women were stripped of their dignity, quickly reduced to sex objects.  Playthings upon which males acted out their cruelest fantasies. War intensified the male animus toward women as rape was seen as a way of cowing or intimidating the enemy and a reward for the aggressor.  In the 1990s, it is estimated that during the Bosnia crisis, 20,000 women were raped.  Angelina Jolie brings this to focus in vivid Technicolor in the documentary In the Land of Blood and Honey.

Despite the alleged recent successes of feminism and the inroads of the women’s movement, the statistics of global abuse are still quite shocking - demonstrating how deeply rooted these biases are. For misogynists, the inferiority, nay, unworthiness of the feminine, is presented as a biological fact, a basic cellular difference, rather than a cultural aberration. (Cf., "Women Are Being Driven Offline": Feminist Anita Sarkeesian Terrorized for Critique of Video Games, Amy Goodman, Democracy Now, Monday, October 20, 2014).

Take any category: rape, sexual/spousal abuse, prostitution, slavery, genocide and it appears that violence against women has risen.  Gone (seems like forevermore) were the gentle, chivalrous mores of yore.

For instance, in America there 237,868 cases of rape/sexual, or one every 2 minutes. (https://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/frequency-of-sexual-assault). Date rape on campuses are all too common.  One study indicated that 20-25% of all college women are vulnerable to sexual assault.  The irony is that in most cases the victim knows their assailant, but is reluctant to bring charges because of embarrassment or unclear university protocols.  Drinking plays a central role in date rape and the predator is often a repeat offender.  There are eighty -five Universities/Colleges now under Federal investigation regarding how they handle sexual violence on campus. (Cf., http://www.nsvrc.org/saam/campus-resource-list).

In India, the practice of sexual assault is similarly quite alarming:  every 20 minutes a women is sexually victimized. India is sometimes referred to as rape capital of the world. (Cf, http://www.more.com/news/india-rape-capital-world).  Similarly, in China, according to one report, men sexually assault their partners in half of all relationships. (http://shanghaiist.com/2013/05/12/marital_rape_and_domestic_violence_in_china.php).

In Nigeria Africa, there is the Boko Haram kidnappings in which women and young girls are sexually abused, forced to marry and to serve their masters in combat.  Many are sold into the sex business.  Boko Haram is a Jihadist group that is opposed to modernity and wishes to return Nigeria to a fundamentalist Sharia state.  Boko Haram leader’s Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility for the kidnappings and claimed that “Allah instructed me to sell them...I will carry out his instructions.”  For him, “Slavery is allowed in my religion, and I shall capture people and make them slaves.”  [27]  He argues that “girls should not have been in school and instead should have been married since girls as young as nine are suitable for marriage.” (wikipedia.org/wiki/Chibok_schoolgirls_kidnapping).

Other issues that primarily impact women run the gamut from genocide/infanticide of girls, to the practice of genital mutilation, child marriages/dowry deaths and honor killings.

India and China have the worst record regarding genocide of girls.  This pattern reflects their societal preference of males over females.  Indian Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen estimated that in 1990 there were 50 million women missing in China, and more than 105 million world-wide. (Cf, Jimmy Carter, A Call to Action, Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, p.115.)  A recent film entitled, It’s a Girl, portrays an Indian mother who strangled eight baby girls.  The tag line which is most chilling is:  “The Three Deadliest Words in The World”, are:  “It’s a girl.” The United Nations estimates there are 200 million missing girls because of infanticide.

Genital mutilation or female circumcision widespread in Africa: Egypt (91%), Guinea (96%), Eritrea (80%), Sudan (88%), Somalia (98%), Sierra Leone (88%), Mali (89%). The World Health Organization calculates that there are 125 million women who have experienced FGM or Female Genital Mutilation. There are no health or sexual benefits to FGM called “Cutting”, but many biological and psychological downsides.
(Cf.,
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/).
In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution banning the practice. (
http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_l205403439_text).

Another serious matter affecting women are child marriages, dowry deaths and honor killings. It is estimated that 14 million girls less than eighteen are married every year. Statistics indicated that 1 in 9 are less than fifteen.  Areas with highest instances are: South Asia (48%), Sub-Sahara Africa (42%), Latin America/Caribbean (29%), and Middle East/N. Africa (18%). Poorer families often enter into child marriages. (Cf, http://data.unicef.org/child-protection/child-marriage).

Concomitantly there is the related problem of honor killing.  This is an issue in Middle East and South Asia. Patriarchy and economics make women vulnerable to this practice.  In Egypt, sixteen percent of all homicides are categorized as honor killings in which a wife allegedly has brought shame to the family because of her conduct.  Globally about 20,000 women are killed. Perpetrators are fathers, brothers, cousins and in some cases women. (http://www.meforum.org/2646/worldwide-trends-in-honor-killings).

Another grim area is slavery, prostitution and human trafficking. The Global Slavery Index ascertains that there are 30 million people enslaved today and that human trafficking has never been more profitable, estimated at $32 billion dollars yearly most of which goes into the coffers of the rich nations. The United States has 60,000 people in bondage.  India has the highest at nearly 14 million and China second at close to 3 million. (http://www.ungift.org/doc/knowledgehub/resource-centre/2013/GlobalSlaveryIndex_2013_Download_WEB1.pdf).

Factors that play into human trafficking are poverty, caste, religion, modernity, greed, power and control.  Women targeted or kidnapped are then turned over to handlers who rape, beat and drug them into submission before turning them over to prostitution rings where they are watched, bullied and threatened.  The Russian mob, in particular, has found it to be a lucrative business, as has the Mexican drug cartels.  The internet and social media has increased the opportunity for trafficking.(http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/kouri/050719 &http://world.time.com/2013/07/31/the-mexican-drug-cartels-other-business-sex-trafficking/).

What are the ways to mitigate if not end this systematic war on the feminine?

First, there has to be a global shift in consciousness in which the beauty, intelligence, and sacredness of the feminine is honored and taught.  Without the feminine there is no life, no future, no heart, and no compassion. The basic unit of society, the family, revolves around the love of the mother, symbolized by the heart.  The future of the nation, as well as the global village, too, revolves around returning the feminine to the center of humanity.  Indeed, the global ecology - Mother Earth - can only be healed through a reawakening to its nurturing/compassionate centrality.

Second, patriarchy, hierarchy and sexism need to be mitigated and eliminated from cultures by changing the biased messages touted by religion, government, and in part, education that women are unequal to men.  These institutions need to look at themselves and implement deep reform in thought.  For instance, if the Catholic Church reversed its position on women priests, this would profoundly change the global status of women.  Or if the Jihadists were to really understand Muhammad message, they would recognize that sexism has no place in Islam as he liberated women from the cruelty of infanticide and often affirmed “that heaven was to be found at the footstool of the mother.”(https://www.alislam.org/library/books/Muhammad-the-liberator-of-women.html)

Third, the leadership of Global institutions like Amnesty International ( USA), Human Rights Watch, United Nations, World Health Organization, World Economic Forum, UNICEF (United Nations Children Fund), and the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women(consisting of 23 experts from various countries sponsored by Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights) must sustain their advocacy for women human rights world-wide and offer practical solutions to sexism, poverty, and inequality. ) (Cf., http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/cedaw.htm)  Ironically the United States government, as pointed out by Jimmy Carter, has failed to endorse the Convention on Elimination of Forms of Discrimination against Women because of the lobbying pressure of the Catholic Church, Christian Fundamentalist and pro-lifers over abortion, and has refused to ratify the International Violence against Women Act.

Fourth, research has indicated that education can be a positive way to reduce sexism by focusing on male attitudes/behaviors through ongoing series of comprehensive awareness programs woven into the educational curriculum from kindergarten to University and even continued into the work place embracing corporations and businesses.  These programs would look at the root of sexism and offer insights or practices leading to a deeper appreciation by men of their own feminine side.

Fifth, the War on Women is a systematic problem based largely on cultural differentiation assigned to men and women.  Men are largely raised as warriors, women as nurturers, and thus creates a false dichotomy or psychological/sociological imbalance in which each loses their empathy toward the other gender and get caught in adversarial roles.  Compounding the female-male tension is capitalism with its emphasis on profits, money, power and control in which humans are reduced to commodities and lose their dignity. The dark side of capitalism need to be transformed. (Cf. Capitalism is the root cause of patriarchy - deacon source deaconsource.wikispaces.com/.../Wake+HM+2NC+v+Kansas+State+FW+...)

It is time for the women of the world to take their rightful place in the story of humanity –not of subservience but considered judgment, not of war but diplomacy, not of strife but compromise and maybe, just maybe, there will be peace and plenty in what little life we have left on this planet we call and honor as MOTHER Earth.