The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

October 18, 2012

Violence against women, sadly, is real and universal

ENID, Okla. — Through the process known as globalization, the world is gradually shrinking.

The world’s far-flung places are becoming linked economically and culturally.

Much of the globalization is being driven by America. McDonald’s and KFC are in Kenya and Thailand.

Hollywood movies are popular in Chile and Turkey, Katy Perry and Justin Bieber tunes can be heard in the slums of Mumbai and on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro.

But despite sharing fast food, film and music, some parts of the world are very different.

Take, for example, Afghanistan. For 11 years our men and women in uniform have been fighting and dying in the mountainous land that has known little but war for so long.

We are fighting the Taliban, the terrorist thugs who are attempting to return the country to the dark ages.

At the same time we are endeavoring to win the hearts and minds of the people, to get them to like and trust us, to try and see the world through their eyes, and to likewise get them to see it through ours.

But our world view, and theirs, is radically different, despite the fact the Republican nominee for president recently boasted of having “binders full of women” who support him.

Recently, in the Herat province of Afghanistan, in the southwest part of the country along the border with Iran, 20-year-old Mah Gul lost her life.

The killing of a young girl is tragic, to be sure, under any circumstances, but Mah’s case is horrific for a triad of regions.

First, she was beheaded, a gruesome way to die. Second, her head was chopped off by her mother-in-law and the older woman’s cousin. Finally, she was killed for refusing to become a prostitute.

It seems Mah’s mother-in-law wanted her to become a prostitute to bring in some extra money for the family. When Mah’s husband, a baker, left for work, the mother-in-law and her cousin tried to force her to sell her body for money.

She said no, so they chopped off her head.

Women would have to have their status elevated to become second-class citizens in Afghanistan, where women are routinely raped, killed, forced to marry as children, forced into prostitution, denied an education and, indeed, denied their basic human rights.

Afghan women often are treated as chattel, rather than human beings.

Afghanistan is a tough place to be a woman.

But lest you think America has especially clean hands when it comes to violence against women, consider this — one in five young women will be a victim of sexual abuse while they are in college, one in nine teen girls will be forced to have sex and one in 10 teens will be hurt on purpose by someone they are dating, according to the White House.

Somewhere in America a woman is battered, usually by her intimate partner, about ever 15 seconds. Almost a third of female murder victims are killed by their intimate partner.

These are good times for American women, in certain areas, at least.

Women are more likely to graduate from college than men and are more likely to earn graduate degrees. More women than man have at least a high school education, and higher percentages of women participate in adult education.

Nearly half of all working Americans are women, and more than three-quarters of those responding to a poll said this is a positive thing.

Nearly 40 percent of U.S. women are the primary bread-winners in their household. Sixty-five percent of women are their family’s chief financial planner and women make 75 percent of the buying decisions in American homes.

Yet 85 percent of those subjected to domestic violence are women.

One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Some 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner every year.

In this great and free land of ours, there are 16,800 murders and 2.2 million medically treated injuries due to domestic violence annually, which translates into a cost of $37 billion.

If he hits you once, he’ll do it again. It wasn’t an accident, it wasn’t a one-time thing. You can’t stop the violence by loving him more or by changing your behavior or that of your children. If he hits you once, he’s not a man, he is an abuser and he will never change.

Move out. Tell someone. Seek help. Don’t think you can handle it. Don’t think things will change for the better. They will change, all right, but only for the worse.

Call a friend. Call a lawyer. Call a shelter. Call the cops. Don’t stay silent. Don’t be embarrassed. Be hurt, be angry, be pro-active, but don’t blame yourself, it’s not your fault.

Walk away, drive away, run away, just get away, as quickly as you can. The more distance you put between yourself and your abuser, the more likely you are to live to see another birthday.

Nobody deserves to be abused. But while we in America are shocked by the death of a young Afghan woman beheaded for refusing to become a prostitute, we are somewhat more jaded about the news out of Florida that a man served with a domestic violence injunction got a gun and killed his girlfriend and two other women in a hair salon, before killing himself.

Throughout October, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, remember the victims. Remember Mah Gul.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.

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