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Rights for women must align globally

Guest Columnist

Published: Sunday, December 2, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, January 1, 2013 20:01

Countries in the Middle East have once again exhibited the idea that despite the fact that it’s 2012, women should be seen as subordinate citizens or even regulatable property. Now, I’m not saying circumstances are perfect everywhere. U.S. politicians are still trying to regulate abortion and the reproductive rights of women, women are paid less than men for similar jobs, current advertising schemes and strategies objectify and sexualize women to extremes and unreal physical standards for women are still reinforced. However, modern countries don’t employ the backward policies of the Middle East in terms of human rights.

Such a practice is highlighted in a recent Agence France-Presse article. As Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women aren’t even allowed to drive, one would hope that it couldn’t think of any more rights to take from its women. This hope seems futile, however. New laws state that Saudi Arabian women are not only barred from leaving the country without male consent, but are also being electronically tracked, with their “male guardians” receiving a text message notifying them of the female’s departure.

In what world is this OK? This circumstance as a whole represents a larger, graver issue: It’s 2012 and women are still being treated as chattel, as second-class citizens who need supervision. Gender-based discrimination, especially if said discrimination is religion based — as Saudi Arabia upholds a strict enforcement of Islamic law — is just plain wrong. Institutionalized discrimination, which is what this is, is a threat to human rights because that’s what women’s rights are. There shouldn’t be a distinction. We shouldn’t have to argue that women should be treated equally. Is this such a challenge to comprehend? In what world is putting a large segment of the population in a position of less power justifiable, simply because they aren’t a specific gender? In this day and age, women’s rights are being spoken about, but not to the appropriate degree. When surveillance and tracking of women is going on and is even a new idea, there are problems.

Women’s rights issues aren’t viewed as pressing as of late and it seems like the only discussions occurring are about reproductive rights, but that’s not all there is to women’s rights. With regions like the Middle East and northern Africa so out of touch with the rest of the world, more needs to be done to encourage discussion on the issue. We can’t have countries treating women subordinately anymore.

Heads of state need to speak up. The United Nations needs to speak up. Rallies and demonstrations are OK for change at the local and sometimes state or federal level, but this goes far beyond that. This is an international issue.

“The United States and other democracies must make the promotion of human rights and women’s rights a priority in relationships with every government in the region, no matter the strategic situation,” Sarah Trister of the Huffington Post wrote.

People need to speak up. Outrage and disapproval need to be voiced. Leaders are idly sitting by and letting countries continuously run women into the ground. International efforts need to be expanded and people in power need to step up and let people know this isn’t OK, no matter what their religions are telling them. No matter the reason, infringement of rights, basic human rights, needs to stop if we’re ever going to truly be a modern and progressive society.

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