Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Human Rights of Women

In his New York Times column yesterday, Nicholas Kristof wrote, "I firmly believe that the central moral challenge of this century, equivalent to the struggles against slavery in the 19th century or against totalitarianism in the 20th, will be to address sex inequality in the third world." Kristof's column tells the story of Mukhtaran Bibi, a Pakistani woman sentenced--for a "crime" not her own--by a village tribal council to be gang-raped. The sentence was carried out but Ms. Mukhtaran defied expectations by refusing to commit suicide after the rape.

Women around the world continue to be subjected to the same human rights abuses that men are subjected to while also suffering from countless gender-specific human rights abuses. Gertrude Mongella of Tanzania, the Secretary-General of the UN Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing 1995), said, "Women have always struggled with their men-folk for the abolition of slavery, the liberation of countries from colonialism, the dismantling of apartheid and the attainment of peace. It is now the turn of men to join women in their struggle for equality."