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International Women’s Day : the Sickness of Women in a Male-dominated Society.

Every year comes March 8, the International Women’s Day. But how much change has really occurred. It is time to deliberate on some issues related to female freedom and male atrocities against women both at home and in the community all over the globe.

 

   Every year comes March 8, the International Women’s Day. But how much change has really occurred. It is time to deliberate on some issues related to female freedom and male atrocities against women both at home and in the community all over the globe.

On March 8 in the year 1911 , Clara Zetkin the great champion of women rights as the leader of the newly founded ‘Women’s Office’ started up the first “International Women’s Day” on March 8, in 1911 launching the idea of it in Copenhagen. Over 100 women  from 17 countries unanimously agreed the proposal . this campaign dated back to British MP John Stuart Mill , the first person in the British parliament calling for women’s right to vote. In 1908, 15000 women marched  through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. Great unrest and critical debate was occurring amongst women. In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America , the first National Woman’s Day (NWD) was observed  across the United States on Feb 28 in 1909.

        The International Women’s Day was at first observed in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.More than one million women attended International women’s Day rallies campaigning  for women’s rights. On the eve of the World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International  Women’s Day in February 1913. In 1914 further women across Europe  held rallies to campaign against the war and to express women’s solidarity..In 1917, Russian women began a strike  for “bread and peace” in response  to the death over 2 million Russian soldiers in war. As a result  the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.Even earlier to that  she developed  the social-democratic women’s movement in Germany from 1891 to 1917. She also edited the SPD women’s newspaper “Equality” (Die Gleichheit). Zetkin fought for equal opportunities and women suffrage. Zetkin also organized an international socialist women’s anti-war conference  in Berlin in 1915.Clara Zetkin interviewed Lenin on “The Women’s Question”.

 International Women’s Day has been observed since 1911. During the period  1918-1999 International Women’s Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across the developing and developed  countries alike.But in the very year 1911 , in New York 140 working women most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants , sacrificed their lives and the disastrous even drew attention to the shabby working condition and labour legislation in the United States. This continued even in 1975 when the year was designated as International Women’s year by the United Nations. IWD is now an official holidy in Armenia , Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus , Bulgaria, Mongolia, Ukraine and Vietnam. The tradition see men honouring their mothers, wives and daughters. But is the life of women at all changed over the last many years of technological and scientific progress? The answer is certainly not ‘yes’ ,but a big ‘No”

          There are also dismal pictures because  violence against women is rooted in the global culture of discrimination which denies women equal rights. Every year Violence at home and in the community devastate the lives of million women all over the world. In the US , the so-called land of freedom and democracy and also in a continent where a woman President is going to win , a woman is raped every 6 minutes, a woman is battered every 15 seconds. In North Africa , 6000 women are genitally mutilated each day. This year more than 15000 women will be sold into sexual slavery in China.200 women in Bangladesh  are  horribly disfigured when their spurned husbands burn them with acid. More than 7000 women are murdered in disputes over dowries in India where the President of the country is herself  a woman. Even today in our country a young man imagines himself to be a prince going to marry the princess and come back home with half the kingdom.

 

          Of late I have read a few books related to Afghan family life and one of them is  Khaled Hosseini’s mega –selling A Thousand Splendid Suns  dealing with the mothers , daughters and wives in a society where religious social and cultural climates have worked together for centuries to limit their freedoms and opportunities. Women like Mariam and Laila in the novel suffer beneath their masked identity thrust upon them. Mariam is ‘harami’ a bastard child forced at 15 to marry Rasheed , a shoemaker near 50 because her father’s wives want to get rid of her. A generation  later , the teen Laila is forced by a profound  secret and a betrayal to also marry Rasheed. Women aged 31 to 40  and who have been married for six  years or more are the most likely victims  of domestic  violence  in Bahrain, Arab and Iran. More than 75 per cent  of domestic violence  did not report abuse  until after more than 10 years of marriage. Their main reasons for keeping silent were not wanting to break up the family, a feeling of powerlessness and a fear of losing their children and their family and above all  for their livelihood.

          But this silence which gets longer and longer causes a lot of damage in the family. Women suffering from such silence get psychosomatic illnesses such as ulcers, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Then there are also stories of rampant abuse of female prisoners which cause mental breakdowns and suicides. A recent report issued by human rights group Amnesty International has documented extreme degree of mistreatment, sexually and otherwise , suffered by the growing population of incarcerated  American women at the hands  of prison authorities. Amnesty found more than 1000 cases of sexual abuses. There are many more unreported cases of such nature. In Canada female prisons are staffed by 90 per cent women versus 45 per cent in the United States according to National Corrections Information Center. The condition of female prisons in India , Bangladesh or Pakistan is unthinkably  horrible.

We need to prevent violence through indirect  education , such as through the child’s upbringing  and through the media. People should come out in the open to discuss domestic violence and to raise awareness of domestic violence and encourage  government and civil societies to take action to help prevent the problems of women tortures and assist  victims. The need of the hour is to help control male anger against women.