Friday, March 6, 2009

March 8: International Women's Day

Living in the United States of America where women are represented at all levels of society, well protected by laws, and where discrimination, though still very much present, is not as readily apparent, it is important for us to sit back and take stock of the real situation of women in the world.

I found the following statistics from a commercial Web site about International Women's Day sobering:

  • Women do two-thirds of the world's work but receive only 10% of the world's income
  • Women in developing countries on average carry 20 litres of water per day over 6 km
  • Of 1.2 billion people living in poverty worldwide, 70% are women
  • 80% of the world's 27 million refugees are women
  • Women own around only 1% of the world's land
  • Women are 2/3 of the 1 billion+ illiterate adults who have no access to basic education
  • Although women make up 51 percent of the world’s population, they hold only 16 percent of parliamentary and congressional seats worldwide.
  • Only 21% of all news subjects (people interviewed or whom the news is about) are female

However, as bad as the economic violence against women is, it is not the theme of this year's International Women's Day. Instead, the United Nations is calling us to focus on physical violence and abuse of women. Their 2009 International Women's Day site offers a wealth of resources and fact sheets to educate about this problem. It is estimated that one in every three women will be the victim of violence from a person she knows at some point in her lifetime.

If you are a person living in the United States who is in a situation of domestic violence, you can get immediate help by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

Si usted vive en Estados Unidos y estás una víctima de la violencia doméstica, puedes conseguir ayuda llamando a la Línea Nacional sobre la Violencia Doméstica al 1-800-799-7233. Si estás indocumentada, no tengas miedo de denunciar el abuso. Según el Violence Against Women Act, no te pueden pedir si estás en el país legalmente ó no. Además si el esposo abusador estaba un ciudadano americano o tenía residencia, tu puedes pedir una visa para tí y para tus hijos. Hable con un abogado.

Yes, this is for Catholic women too -- para las mujeres católicas también. I remember almost twenty years ago, going to Mass, and a Cuban priest whom we had always thought to be a bit conservative stood up and told us that women do not have to stay with men who abuse them. It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop and then this wave of relief among immigrant women who had always thought that the Church expected them to stay with their husband no matter what.

From the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops "When I Call for Help: A Pastoral Response to Domestic Violence Against Women" (2002):

As pastors of the Catholic Church in the United States, we state as clearly and strongly as we can that violence against women, inside or outside the home, is never justified. Violence in any form"—physical, sexual, psychological, or verbal"—is sinful; often, it is a crime as well. We have called for a moral revolution to replace a culture of violence. We acknowledge that violence has many forms, many causes, and many victims—men as well as women....

...We emphasize that no person is expected to stay in an abusive marriage. Some abused women believe that church teaching on the permanence of marriage requires them to stay in an abusive relationship. They may hesitate to seek a separation or divorce. They may fear that they cannot re-marry in the Church. Violence and abuse, not divorce, break up a marriage. We encourage abused persons who have divorced to investigate the possibility of seeking an annulment. An annulment, which determines that the marriage bond is not valid, can frequently open the door to healing.

De la Conferencia Espicopal de Estados Unidos:

Como pastores de la Iglesia Católica en Estados Unidos, declaramos con la mayor claridad y firmeza posible que la violencia contra las mujeres, dentro o fuera del hogar, nunca está justificada. La violencia en cualquier forma — física, sexual, psicológica o verbal — es pecado; a menudo, también es un crimen. Hemos llamado a una revolución moral que reemplace una cultura de violencia. Reconocemos que la violencia tiene muchas formas, muchas causas y muchas víctimas, tanto hombres como mujeres.

...enfatizamos que no se debe esperar que ninguna persona se quede en un matrimonio abusivo. Algunas mujeres maltratadas creen que la enseñanza de la Iglesia sobre la permanencia del matrimonio les exige quedarse en una relación abusiva. Pueden dudar en buscar una separación o divorcio. Pueden temer que no puedan volver a casarse en la Iglesia. La violencia y el abuso, no el divorcio, rompen un matrimonio. Exhortamos a las personas maltratadas que se han divorciado a investigar la posibilidad de buscar una anulación. Una anulación, que determina que el vínculo matrimonial no es válido, puede frecuentemente abrir las puertas a la curación.

Mejor andar sola que mal acompañada, hermanas!

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