Women fighting for rights; Injustices continue worldwide



     “Almost half of the women in some 57 countries do not have the power to make choices over their healthcare, contraception, or sex lives.” states a report by the United Nations published in April 2021. Regardless of how low or high this number is interpreted, any number or percentage is still too high to be acceptable and can’t be ignored.

     It’s impossible to not wonder how and why this is still an issue after human rights have come so far ever since John Locke’s first declaration of ‘unalienable rights’, yet it seems every time change for the better in this area takes a step forward, it takes two steps back. Especially for women.

     In South Africa, many women and girls are victims of harmful practices including child marriage, abduction for marriage (known as “ukuthwala”), and forced polygamous unions that often lead to a rise of domestic violence. 

     The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) states that out of roughly 144,000 requests for protection orders from 2018-2019 in South Africa, only around 22,000 were granted. CEDAW also reports that in many cases, the protection orders granted “just called for the abuser to sleep in a different room, in the same house.” It’s not fair that these women believe their cases are being heard and proper action will be taken, only to be let down.

     Afghan women also continue to endure several challenges and injustices, which are at risk of worsening with the recent departure of US armed forces from Afghanistan. With the Taliban gaining ground and the prospect of an expanded civil war, many donors that fund programs that are vital for women’s rights are withdrawing their support. 

     With their country in peril and an unsure future looming ahead, now more than ever is a crucial time to support these women and make sure they’re not left behind. The world needs to reassure these women that they’re being heard over the violence and politics casting a murky cloud over the dire situation.

     Although the Taliban claims they pledge to let girls study and women work, they usually follow their statements up with the phrase “as permitted by Islam.” To further growing concerns, there’s been major contradictions between the word of the Taliban and their actions. Local commanders in recent months and years have sometimes closed down girls’ schools entirely, even at the primary level.

     Women should not have to keep fighting for their right to a safe education in the 21st century. They shouldn’t still have to wonder if it’s okay for them to pursue an interest. It’s unfair to deny anyone access to something that’s needed to understand the world around them, just because of their gender.

     Afghan human rights lawyer and human rights watch consultant Fereshta Abbasi states that she has to keep the women she consults with safe and anonymous, due to the fact their families could retaliate against them for reporting their cases. “Afghan women and girls are at risk for so-called honor killings by their families, and these cases are rarely prosecuted.” 

     Even if the full effects of infringements on women’s rights aren’t felt everywhere or by all, the fight must continue until every single group of women is treated as human beings. There shouldn’t be a fight to secure these rights to begin with; these rights should’ve been granted at birth.