Grad school and academia can be kind of a bubble sometimes. Even with the wide world of blogging open to me, Sci doesn’t get out much. At least, not outside the Science section of the New York Times.
But the other day, Sheril of The Intersection slipped this Op-Ed into Sci’s inbox. It’s time to wake up.
A lot of my friends around the blogsphere speak on the subject of feminism (Sci sometimes makes forays into that herself), of making sure that women have equal rights, particularly in the world of academia, which is no care bear’s tea party. We’ve all faced discrimination based on our sex, our appearance, our personality. And we get caught up in these things. And these things NEED to be addressed. But at the same time, we should think, sometimes, about how lucky we are.
There are women and girls out there who, aside from often living in grinding poverty, lack basic human rights. They are not people, they are property to be bought and sold. Property that any man can take and use, horribly and callously, because war has taught these men that rape is a trapping of power. During the most recent civil war in Liberia, 3/4 of the female population was raped. 75% Stand in a group of 4 women and think about what that means.
Now that the war is over, numbers have dropped substantially. But, to many men in Liberia, it’s become clear that if you want sex, all you have to do is find the nearest female and overpower her.
And these are not always young women, they are often not women at all, they are children. Children as young as three years old being raped by fully grown men. 28% of sexual violence cases were children under the age of four. The numbers, and what those numbers mean, are mind-numbing. And the implications are worse.
As someone who knows her physiology, I can’t even begin to tell you what something like that can do to a young girl’s body. Hemorrhaging, fistulas, not to mention the possibility of AIDS and other STDs which are so common in some of these countries. And in these countries, where women are often too poor or live in areas too rural to even have c-sections for birthing complications, the vaginal repair of a seven-year-old girl is often far beyond the capabilities of those around her. And the physical problems are only part of the terror and horror that these girls live with every day, knowing what happened, and knowing that it could happen again, very easily.
So today is an awareness day. Many bloggers around the science blogosphere and abroad are spreading the word about what’s going on. We are not powerless, and we should not sit by and say “it’s half a world away”. In the age of the internet, that’s not so far.
The Op-Ed article mentioned above recommends Doctors Without Borders as an excellent spot for donation. I know many of my bloggy pals, including this one right here, will be donating their bloggy earnings to them this month. So if you’re poor, all you have to do is click. Every dollar you raise helps a doctor travel to places like Liberia to help women and children. Every bit of awareness you raise increases pressure for countries like this to change.
Should you like to get more active, Sheril at the Intersection has a letter which you can send to your congressperson. Check her sidebar.
Edit: Bioephemera has a great post up with many links which you should check if you are interested in getting more active!
Also, there’s a Facebook group!!! Already we are so famous. Join up!