Global War Against Women: The Fourth of July

The Fourth of July, Independence Day, was not a very good day for women’s independence around the world.

A typically disgusting story from Afghanistan, by Matthew Rosenberg and Jawad Skuhanyar, in yesterday’s New York Times, begins:

KABUL, Afghanistan — A court has reversed the convictions of three Afghans jailed for torturing a young relative who had refused to become a prostitute, alarming activists who had celebrated the guilty verdicts as a warning to all those who would seek to reverse the strides made by women here in the past 12 years.

So, an unusual moment of good women’s news — three people jailed for torturing a young woman — turns rotten, coincidentally around the day we Americans celebrate our freedom. The article goes on:

A family had bought the young woman, Sahar Gul, from her stepbrother for $5,000 and had forced her to marry in 2011, when she was just 13 or 14. When she refused to consummate the marriage, her in-laws locked her in a basement, where they burned her with hot wires, pulled out her fingernails and twisted her skin with pliers for months.

She was discovered in December 2011 curled up in a dank and dark corner of the cellar and badly malnourished. Sahar Gul now lives in a shelter in Kabul.

Just great.

And not to miss an equal opportunity to suppress women’s rights, North Carolina weighed in (Alan Blinder, writing in the Times):

The North Carolina Senate approved new limits on abortions Wednesday, defying opponents who complained that the Republican majority breached protocol by passing the restrictions less than 24 hours after their surprise introduction.

The proposed package of rules, which has yet to be considered by the House, would force abortion clinics to abide by regulations akin to those required of ambulatory surgical centers.

“I would consider it to be a common-sense measure and very rational,” said John L. Rustin, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council, which supports the limits. “If you’re going to engage in surgical abortion procedures, you need to meet the same standards.”

You’re not naive enough to believe that these laws have anything to do with “common-sense,” let alone morality, do you? Don’t forget that along with electricity, what liberated women most from second- or even third-class citizenship was control over family planning, i.e., their bodies. Contraception, prescriptions for which we often got through clinics such as Planned Parenthood, and the freedom to choose an abortion when contraception had not worked, elevated us to equality with men, and freed us to pursue higher education, careers, to earn our own living, to support ourselves.

To be, in one word, independent.

Realize, therefore, that all these anti-abortion laws and the efforts to destroy Planned Parenthood clinics around the country have one purpose: to reduce women to the status at which men enjoyed us before contraception, before Roe v. Wade.

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