Women go 'missing' by the millionsA few years ago, back in grad school, I was sitting in a rather dank computer lab in LSU's Coates Hall. I remember it was raining, as it does most afternoons in Louisiana. I remember being tired from frequent 14-hour flights to western Montana, where I was working as a design consultant for a planned museum/library.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Tribune Media Services International
SATURDAY, MARCH 25, 2006
AMSTERDAM -- As I was preparing for this article, I asked a friend who is Jewish if it was appropriate to use the term "holocaust" to portray the worldwide violence against women. He was startled. But when I read him the figures in a 2004 policy paper [PDF] published by the Geneva Center for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, he said yes, without hesitation.
One United Nations estimate says from 113 million to 200 million women around the world are demographically "missing." Every year, from 1.5 million to 3 million women and girls lose their lives as a result of gender-based violence or neglect...
- FULL OP/ED HERE -
Instead of studying, I was reading the same policy paper Ayaan quoted in Saturday's International Herald-Tribune. I remember getting a lump in my throat when I first read that 200 million floating there in the UN document. That's more than the estimated 143 million women living in the United States.
As many as 200 million women are demographically missing. These women may be dead, mutilated, sex slaves, victims of genocide, refugees, etc. Around the world, there are records produced daily that document the brutal destructive force of humanity.
So why is it, then, that in the Western world, very few give a shit? How are human beings, despite all of the evidence around us, able to ignore what we see, to write off the plight of their fellow man as being nothing more than a small amount of newsprint or some 10-second actuality from a radio program?
We - all of us - do so because we choose to be blind, deaf, and dumb. The simple act of caring requires one to accept some level of vulnerability, to acknowledge that we are mere mortals. People in the West - where we view ourselves as somehow cultured because we watch the hippest television shows or listen to certain types of music or associate with certain people - are not safe from the global environment simply because we choose to be ignorant of the world around us.
There is absolutely no protection provided by a self-imposed blindness, no right to security or safety behind a veil of ignorance. Someone asked me last night how I could be so blunt in my discussion of such a sensitive topic as the recent killings in Seattle. How insensitive to discuss the impact of a laissez-faire subculture in the light of a national tragedy! How cold, brutal, and callous!
I make no apologies for discussing my personal experiences at raves in the 1990s in relation to what happened in Washington state in 2006 - and I never will. Frankly, there is no need for an apology for sharing my thoughts, my direct observations of raves, and my personal feelings on why I'm not shocked whatsoever. While I realize my opinions may offend, well, no one in this world has a right to go through life without being offended. Feel free to read, view, and listen to only what you agree with - that is your choice.
As I told that person, how ignorant of our violent world does one have to be to actually believe that seven dead people, killed at a party by some madman, is any more relevant in the big picture than any other murder? At the end of the day, the entire event boils down to one American killing a few others. At the end of the day, they are no different to the world's 6+ billion people than the 1.5-3 million women who die every year.
Don't kid yourself - the vast majority of the world could really give a shit what happened on Capitol Hill last weekend. Six hundred kids could've died, and I doubt Joe Sixpack would think twice about it while flipping between reality TV and NCAA basketball games.
Yes, that's cold. And I'm sorry it has to be that way. But sorrow does not end violence in a violent world. No murder has ever been undone after the fact by someone crying over the dead. Future violence, however, is a different story. Open dialogue, the exchange of differing ideas, arguments over the assignment of responsibility, can prevent further violence.
I'm sorry that a 27-year-old Iraqi doctor admitted to executing more than 40 Iraqi troops via lethal injection. I'm sorry more than two dozen people lost their lives along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border this week in ethnic skirmishes. But being sorry will not bring them back from the dead.
Two men were brutally murdered last night on Chicago's South Side; Saturday, a 21-year-old was also killed in a drive-by shooting, shot in the head in the same Windy City. I'm certain there are numerous other murders that occurred this weekend; I'm sorry those happened, too.
Sadly, what happened in Seattle is not some great tragedy - it is merely another headline begging for sympathy yet devoid of resolution. Like the Columbine Massacre, the D.C. Sniper, that girl who disappeared down in Aruba, and other media items, this weekend's events in the Pacific Northwest serve as benchmarks for our self-imposed ignorance of the greater human tragedy.
Yes, that's cold. It's downright brutal. As someone who's known way too many good people turned to wormfood by violence, it's painful to even admit that. But not talking about it will not bring a single person killed in the world back to life. There is no great Lazarus solution to humanity's meatgrinder.
That is the greatest tragedy known to man, whether discussing the millions of dead or the loss of one life.
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? wrote T.S. Elliot, Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
There is no escaping the criticism and public scrutiny that scene will now find itself seeking to escape, that microscope of the public eye. There are members of the rave community who were pissed off by that last post.
Feel free to be pissed - at least it got ya thinking about something other than the normal daily bullshit.
It's your life to live. And unlike the other millions of people who die because of war, disease, and other types of senseless violence, you can still live your life however you choose to live it.
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