The Feminist Letters: Women around the world need to be treated equally, not just in western culture

In recent years, the topic of feminism has become a loaded conversation in the media. Feminists are often stereotyped as ‘angry liberals’ or ‘man haters,’ when all they are really fighting for is political, economic and social equality for all genders. Due to centuries of injustice and discrimination against women in many different forms, feminism is a social movement that will likely never die.

What people often fail to recognize is that while we may have ‘fixed’ aspects of gender inequality, something that remains on the back burner of the discussion is the physical and sexual violence that women of all races, cultures and sexual orientations suffer through daily.

Millions of women in nations across the world live a life they cannot escape from, mainly due to the horrors of abuse inflicted by men. About 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence in their lives, according to the World Health Organization. The tragic truth is that this number is growing larger and larger by the day.

Many women choose to hide the abuse they experience daily, in fear of what will happen to them, or even their children. The worst of it is that many children fall victim to this violence. It’s estimated that 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday.

While this happens worldwide, it’s more common in West and Central Africa, with more than 4 in 10 girls married before age 18, and about 1 in 7 were married or in union before age 15, according to the United Nations Women Organization. The most disappointing aspect of this disgusting ritual is that it’s legal or ignored in countries like Niger, India, Mali, Bangladesh and the list goes on.

The fear of abuse and sexual violence is instilled into a woman at a very young age; because of how likely it is to happen to them in their lifetime from strangers, current or former boyfriends, husbands and among others. A study done by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center reveals that 91 percent of rape and sexual assault victims are women. This is not to say that men do not experience this trauma in their lifetime, but by statistics, the unfortunate reality is that women are far more likely.

For Americans, and countless other countries that live in a world that jokes about women, rape and violence are normalized when they are coming from the mouths of men. We have become accustomed to hearing grown men make jokes or even advances at young women. Many women actually see this behavior as a joke, not a real issue. It’s troubling that boys and men around the world are growing up believing that acting in this manner will bring no consequences. It’s time to teach boys and men of all ages that the world has changed, and women will not fall subject to disgusting and obscene gestures and jokes.

We need feminism not just for American women, but also for women all around the world. We need feminism for the women facing domestic violence behind closed doors in India. We need feminism so that girls in Yemen receive the education they deserve. We need feminism to end female genital mutilation in Egypt.

The fight for equality for women is far from over, despite how far we have come.

In order for women to receive equal benefits and treatment as men, change needs to continue.