Thursday, 25 November 2010
'Don't laugh too loudly'-VAW Campaign
I was constantly being told that when I was growing up in Asia. Women who laughed too loudly were considered emancipated and that was a bad thing. To go about your day in a quiet and withdrawn manner was a sign of great feminity. This example is a microscopic insight into the indignities suffered by women in the region. In fact, I was lucky that the repression I underwent was verbal for the statistics show that a huge proportion of girls suffer physically for the 'sin' of being a woman. It starts in the cradle. The family are disappointed that a girl has been born into the family and not a boy. The girl is punished from then on. Violence against women (VAW) is a stain on the Asian continent. Amartya Sen, the Indian Nobel Laureate wrote a ground breaking paper about the cultural and social discrimination of women that has led to the disappearance of 22.1 million femals in India and 30 million in China. Crucial political, social and ideological concepts such as social mobility and gender equality that we in the West take for granted do not figure in Asia. Even in cases where legislation has been implemented to outlaw discrimination against women the culture of the particular country has prevented the law from being mainstreamed into society. Asian countries need to wake up to the fact that their dream of becoming economic superpowers will never, thankfully, be realised till equal opportunity policies are implemented stringently and women are respected as human beings because marginalising half the population will result in distortions in the economic landscape.