Sunday, 13 January 2013

Five reasons why we still need feminism

Yesterday my orchestra, the Oriflamme Ensemble, held a concert to raise money for the Mid-Warwickshire branch of Amnesty International. You probably already know that Amnesty is a campaigning organisation which works to protect people around the world, lobbying to change attitudes, prevent injustice and release people who have been unfairly incarcerated.

This concert takes place every year, and before we start to play the audience is given a short round-up of what Amnesty has been focussing on most recently. Women’s rights was given as one of their big concerns this year.

I wondered how my playing various tunes by Verdi, Debussy and friends might be contributing, in a very small way, to promoting and protecting women’s rights. A glance at some of the details of their recent campaigns shows that the need for feminism, to give women equal rights and status to women, is still huge.

Five reasons why we still need feminism 

  1. Nicaragua: two-thirds of reported rapes are against girls under age 17. The victim and not the abuser is often blamed, and failures in the justice system mean cases often collapse and attackers walk free. Abortion is a crime, even where the woman's health and life is in danger, or she is the victim of rape or incest. 
  2. Afghanistan: after the fall of the Taliban in 2001, women in Afghanistan have been able to gradually claim basic human rights, such as being able to work, get an education and vote. These rights are being attacked again, as the Afghan government enter into discussions with the Taliban. 
  3. Egypt: adultery is defined differently for men and women, with men receiving more lenient punishment. Men and women still do not have equal rights when entering or dissolving a marriage. Sexual harass
  4. Indonesia: unmarried women and girls can have difficult accessing contraception, putting them at risk of unwanted pregnancies and, sexually transmitted diseases. If they do become pregnant they often seek unsafe abortions, putting them at risk of serious health problems, or even death. 
  5. Sierra Leone: one in eight women risks dying during pregnancy or childbirth, usually because they can’t afford proper maternal care. Less than half of deliveries are attended by a skilled birth attendant and less than one in five are carried out in health facilities. Every year, thousands of women bleed to death after giving birth. 

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