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The 21st Century

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The International Writers Magazine
: Women's RIghts

James Skinner

In a few months time, the World Organization of Women’s Associations, will meet in this small forgotten seaport on the Northwestern peninsula of Spain for their annual jamboree. Forty thousand ladies from all walks of life and nationality will descend upon the city, taking over bars, restaurants and hotels for a whole week.

They will come from as far away places as Auckland and San Francisco or nearby Lisbon to offer us residents the benefit of their investigations, statistics, demands and pledges, all in the name of women’s lib and equality. They will be hosted by the our present Mayor, who happens to be a woman and by the Women’s Department of the Regional Government which is a sort of Female Ministry with plenty of power. The male population, no doubt will be too busy worrying about the local football team who is at present going down the tubes in the National League. They’ll probably migrate to the surrounding hills for peace and quiet.

The granddaughters of the suffragettes are presenting a very impressive program. There will be conferences on the achievements so far in such areas as education, employment and politics. They will open debates on equality and freedom. A discussion forum on domestic violence, prostitution and female abuse is very high on the agenda. The cherry on the cake will be the climatic statement that the female species of the human race has still a long way to go for total recognition. The schedule of events includes marches through the city streets with chants, slogans and banners against almost everything that is wrong with the world. No doubt we’ll see many a famous male figure being ostracised and flaunted as symbols of female debauchment.

Yet if we look at the present day situation in our so-called modern and progressive society, not only have women come a long way but they have also taken over. Without going too far back in history, Britain was governed for over a decade by one of the most powerful prime ministers in modern history, Margaret Thatcher. The Royal Family has not been unsuccessful either. Between Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II they’ve clocked up enough mileage to enter the Guinness Book of Records. I take a look around the political arena of Europe and a great deal of women are members of government, parliament, regional assemblies and town councils, many in dominating positions.

Moving on to other areas, there is a noticeable trend of excellence over men. In universities, for example they often overtake their male counterparts in both numbers and academic results. Their say in the media has more power than ever before. Female journalists are read, viewed and admired the world over. In the field of academics and intellectuals more books are being written as well as critiqued by women. Both exhibitors and Directors of Art galleries are predominantly female. Gone are the days of Van Gogh and Picasso, enter Tracy Emin and her friends. So why are they still bitching?

Domestic violence is one reason. Their husbands or boyfriends in Spain murdered nearly a hundred women in 2003. The numbers related to beatings and serious bodily harm are even higher and have risen consistently throughout Europe over the past decade. Although many are drug or alcohol related, the criminal harm does not alter the statistics. Some psychologists argue that the very freedom that the female population has achieved in society is at the root of this particular scourge. Women equality relates to sexual freedom, shared domestic responsibility and powers of management in the workplace. Add a touch of Latin ‘machismo’ and you have the violent cocktail staring at you in the face. At least so it seems among some circles of discussion.

Trafficking in female human flesh is another serious and disgusting trade going on in the world. Young adolescents, snatched from poor countries by ruthless criminals that end up in dinghy rat infested whorehouses around Europe’s cities are never ending. If one wanders around the red light district in my own town, the poor frostbitten-street-corner-sexual-peddlers descend from anywhere but here. The young hookers come in all shapes, colours and sizes both inside and outside their costumed framework. The feminist movement certainly has a reasonable gripe about this ‘specialist’ shopping mall activity.

Then you have equality of employment and pay. This is no doubt a very touchy subject, particularly in the developed world. Statistics demonstrate that there are more female workers on the unemployment list and that those who do happen to have a job are generally underpaid. There is not much argument against this anomaly because each individual sector of industry or government will deny it. In other words, ‘not in my shop.’
‘Trouble is that women have generous social security benefits, particularly when it comes to their children,’ said a friend of mine who runs a small furniture business. ‘All they have to do is get pregnant and I’ve lost my accountant for a year!’ This might seem an exaggeration but the bulk of maternity leave taken by employees is always biased towards the female worker. Daddy just doesn’t want to know.

But there is one complaint that cries out for a solution. It is the outright discrimination that is going on against women by certain religious factions around the globe. The entire Western world seem to have given a semi-blind eye how Islamis countries treat women. Over the past three or four decades, and thanks to the mass media we are able to see how a Muslim male treats his female counterpart. I do not need to go into details but these range from having more than one wife, to imposing severe dress codes that dehumanise 'their' women.

The banning of Muslim children in wearing the kippa, or headscarf in France has turned into a political row throughout the European Union. Yet the stoning to death of a women adulteress in Africa barely causes ripples amongst our present governments. I ask only two questions. Why didn’t this gathering of the Women's Organisations arrange to meet in Istanbul, Lahore or better still Riyadh? Women must not be hypocritical in your fight for equality when you have total religious and career inequality staring you in the face. If it is not addressed properly in the future, it will eventually take over and rule you for centuries to come.
And then it will turn into a man’s world, once again!

© James Skinner. Feb 17th 2004.

Globalisation Part One here

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