By Vickie Janson
Friday 30 May 2014 was just one day. For many it may have been a day full of hope, a day of joy and a day of unexpected surprises. But for far too many this was just another devastating day.
On this day, I heard the story of a courageous Palestinian woman sharing about life in Palestine. A normal day for woman venturing out here includes being ‘touched’ by strangers just for being on public transport. This Palestinian woman said that last year there was a 300% increase in ‘honour killings’ in Palestine. She said this is a place where women have no real value or rights. And to speak as she has publicly about the plight of her people has brought death threats and forced her to seek refuge in the UK. But sadly, she now has death threats there too. That’s the down side of multiculturalism.
On this day, as my custom is, I watched SBS World News. I saw two girls, one 14 and the other 15, hanging on a tree after being ganged raped in India. They say some of the culprits were Police. In India and elsewhere mob violence and sexual assaults are at epidemic levels. The most horrific and cruel deaths have become spectator sports.
SBS news moved on to Pakistan. There was the report of the pregnant woman who had been stoned to death with bricks by her own father and brother. This was because she had married a man of her choice instead of the man her family chose for her. When interviewed, the husband was without tears or emotion. He simply said she been a respectful and obedient wife and was also attractive. What a bonus. It was as if he had lost quite a valuable asset and was looking for some compensation.
It was later revealed this man had strangled and killed his previous wife so he could marry this one – perhaps because she was younger and more attractive? But he had never been punished by the state for killing his previous wife because the wife’s family forgave him after he paid the appropriate blood money to them. Just another day, another transaction; another dead woman.
SBS continued to the next news item. This time it was Northern Niger with a home for young girls, some who had been married to men at just nine years old, who had escaped. We were told it was difficult to stop the practice because it was religiously sanctioned and the Imam confirmed this. The Nigerian schoolgirls abducted over a month ago are just the tip of the ice-berg.
And then the news moved closer to home, for me: Australia. Once again women were under the spotlight. This time the issue was Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and steps to stop this in Australia. It really makes you wonder, is there no safe place left in the world? All of this, in just one day.