Dita Parker

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Right now

[We interrupt the current state of play to bring you this message.]

There is a massacre under way. Single incidents that together spell gendercide.

A baby girl is being aborted. The child is not unwanted, only the wrong sex.

A baby girl is born but not cared for or fed. Soon, she's left for dead.

A young girl switches households. She is nine. He is forty-seven. She is his wife now. His slave. His family's slave. Of not much more value than the dirt she sweeps.

A father sells his daughter to the highest bidder. They break her in. Break her will, break her body, then sell it, the only thing she owns, except she never sees the money, only a train of faces. When she has served her purpose, she disappears.

A girl is being raped. It's a punishment. It's retribution. An act of aggression. A means to secure a wife. An attempt to dispel disease.

Yet another is buried in the sand, her head pummeled to a pulp by a hundred men, a thousand. She may or may not have done something to disgrace her family but they suspect.

A young woman lives in fear of abduction, imprisonment, torture, death, because she dared open her mouth, voice a grievance, demand change. Is today the day? Will they get her in the market, in traffic, her own doorstep, while she sleeps? Every second, in fear.

A woman breathes a sigh of relief as her husband goes off to work. With a few hours of respite to look forward to but with no money and no place to go, she decides to try to make it through another day. She makes it through four more. No more.

A woman dies at eighty-seven praying to the heavens that if she has to be born again, please let her be born a man.

A deficit of one hundred million women. More women killed and girls unborn in the last fifty years than men lost in all of the wars of the twentieth century. That deficit has repercussions, effects that in some countries spell trouble for the women who have survived, who were allowed to be born. Some really wish they never had.

Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, dearest denizens. The official theme this year: "Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women." That is a good one, a highly commendable one. Education and economic empowerment, putting girls through school and women's vocational training can make all the difference.

You may have heard of micro loans or microfinancing. There's Women's World Banking and then there's Women's Bank, which I prefer because it's not just about money, it's about skills and rights as well. Feeling galvanized? You too can support a sister and become a shareholder.

Or, if money's too tight to mention, call your mother and/or grandmother, meet up with your sister, give your daughter your undivided attention, make a date with a girlfriend, smile at a stranger. Let them know how much you love and respect and admire them. And those chicks you really really don't... Maybe today you'll refrain from any badmouthing. Your thoughts don't hurt them, only make you miserable, don't they.

And as for those important men in your life, those who rarely raise their voice against you and who would never ever raise a hand...a kiss, a hug, a compliment wouldn't hurt anything, would it. Let's face it, sweetie darlings, as Phil Collins used to sing, it's just another day for you and me in paradise.

Now go love someone and shine on.

[This concludes today's sermon.]

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