Thursday, 11 October 2012

International Day of the Girl Child.

I'd much rather be blogging about shenanigans. Or food. Or anything, really. But today is International Day of the Girl Child.

Part of me is deeply concerned that we need the UN to designate a day like this. Really? In 2012?

And then I read this. A 14 year old girl shot in the head for wanting access to education.

Or the pornographization of a rape victim's account, here in PNG.

And I know a woman here who is about to be involved in a case conference for the HUNDREDS of children in PNG who are both incontinent of faeces and urine due to repeated sexual abuse.

The theme of this first IDOTGC is "Forced Marriage", and the UN site is filled with informationa and horror stories of forced marriage in India, Pakistan and other Muslim countries.

Here are some stats on PNG.

The Government of Papua New Guinea does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. Despite overall low awareness of trafficking among many government officials, the government acknowledged that human trafficking was a problem in the country and expressed its commitment to increasing law enforcement's capacity to address it. It did not, however, enact legislation to criminalize all forms of trafficking, investigate or prosecute suspected trafficking offenders under existing laws, or identify or assist any trafficking victims during the year.

 There is also anecdotal evidence that the production of "snuff" child porn movies are made in PNG. Clearly I'm not going to google for links to that.

So, while my daughters are safely a) at school showing off her new Dora the Explorer skirt and b) preparing to start their Doctorate of Jurisprudence, while the biggest threat they face is a) not getting enough of a nap before going to the Yoti tonight and b) how to juggle a further 5 years of Uni with an ever-increasing social life, they are clearly in the minority.

Much has been made lately of misogyny and sexism, from the outpouring on social media at the rape and murder of Jill Meagher to the inherent filth that spills from the mouth of that toad, Alan Jones and his crony Tony Abbott, aka The Mad Monk.

But if the worst my daughters have to endure is having their vaginas compared to a "briny creature". then they've got out of it quite well. The misogny my Australian-Citizened daughter will face over her life is no easier to cope with that what Vop may have, and (I am sure) WILL face as a female citizen of PNG. The fact that we've adopted her may "save" her from the violence she absolutely would have faces in her childhood, but it won't shield her from being deemed a second-class citizen simply because she is a women anywhere else in the world.

So while today highlights to disempowerment of young women all over the globe, whether it be #firstworld rape and murder of a young woman on her way home or #thirdworld forced marriage of nine year old girls, let's not get too tied into that hoary old chestnut of victim blaming. For every International Day of the Girl, let's have an online forum that, rather than teach women to be safe, teaches men NOT TO RAPE. For every "Take Back The Night"march, let's petition the government of PNG to enact ACTUAL change in the way rapists are charged and jailed.

Until the inherent power imbalance that faces women in crisis is addressed, and the role that MEN play in this power imbalance is given greater voice, then all the IDOTGC's in the world aren't worth squat.


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