2012 Was a Terrible Year for Women Worldwide

The year has not been very kind to some women throughout the world.

On February 29, 2012, Sandra Fluke was attacked by Rush Limbaugh, who publicly called her a "slut" and "prostitute," simply because of her speech before the House Democrats in support of mandating health insurers to cover contraceptive costs. Have you ever heard of a man thus abused for testifying in congress? Not in this male-dominant culture.

It is a delusion to believe that women in this country enjoy equal treatment. Politicians like Todd Akin remind us that some men in power always attempt to determine the consequences of women's experiences with male violence and to deprive women of the right to choose.

Earlier in 2012, Susan G. Komen cut funding to Planned Parenthood, shortly after Komen hired a new vice president, Karen Handel, who is strongly anti-abortion.

On October 9, Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai was shot by Taliban, simply because she advocated for the right to education for girls in Pakistan. Her bravery has been acclaimed globally. She was considered as a candidate for TIME's person of the
year 2012.

And on December 16, the world was once again horrified upon learning of the death of the victim of a gang rape in India, the so-called largest democratic country in the world, and also one of the top five "worst places in the world to be a woman," along with Afghanistan, the Congo, Pakistan, and Somalia.

All the talk about human rights and democracy is totally empty and meaningless if half of the population is under male dominance, deprived equal treatment and the right to education, and is not safe from gang rape even while taking public transportation. Let us realize human rights also include women's rights to education, to equal treatment, to security, to peaceful co-existence with males, and to a life with less fear of attack from the males. Let us hope the year 2013 will see some improvements in women's condition, social status, and changes in the male-dominated parts of the world.

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Yanwen Xia

Research section at University of Kansas Hospital Cancer Center & Midwest Voices contributing columnist

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