It can begin with a quick slap to the face and end with a vicious beating that leaves a woman physically impaired…Or it can start with an inappropriate touch that leads to a brutal rape which leaves the victim emotionally scarred for life. In either case the abuse can have a profoundly disturbing effect on a woman’s life, leaving her with physical and mental scars that are never erased. The trauma she endures at the hands of a man filled with insecurity and cowardice can leave her feeling ashamed and consumed with guilt. It can destroy her ability to trust and to be intimate. It can mark her as an outcast within her own society. It can leave her alone and isolated. It can, in every sense, destroy her life.  

Too often the women who are trapped in extreme poverty become easy targets for physical abuse. Sometimes the very culture they are forced to live in condones their suffering leaving them with no where to turn for help. The physical pain they endure can come at the hands of either strangers or from their domestic partners, the individuals they have chosen to share their lives with. To be beaten or raped by the man who supposedly “loves” you adds an extra dimension of pain and humiliation to the abuse. The shock, confusion and terror experienced by a woman who is brutalized in extreme poverty is just another level of hell that she is forced to deal with along with the hunger, illness and disease that already dominates her life.  

Women, particularly those that are poor, are often assaulted because they are considered less than equal human beings. It is not just that they may be physically weaker than a male they are actually believed to be inferior in many ways. When you have no respect for someone you have little guilt about hurting them, there is no connection with them as a human being and therefore there is no restraint in place to keep you from harming them. This is especially true of rape. When the woman is viewed as nothing more than an object with which to provide a sexual release or to be overpowered and controlled, the humanity is taken out of the act. Rape becomes an instrument of fear and domination to be used at random or against entire populations. It is certainly one of the most horrific acts we are capable of.  

What makes a man strike out at woman, particularly a person he has a relationship with? Why does he feel the need to inflict pain and humiliation on someone who loves him? What does he think gives him the “right” or the “freedom” to hurt someone else? What makes him believe he is justified in his desire to inflict pain on someone who may not be able to defend themselves?…Whatever his reasoning, it is absolutely WRONG. Even in the desperate circumstances of extreme poverty there is absolutely no excuse for a male to ever be violent towards a female. How will severely beating a woman make any situation better? Where is the logic in that type of thinking? How can sexually assaulting another human being have any place in a civilized world? To demean another person to make yourself feel better is a cowardly act. To believe that you can only elevate yourself by crushing others is a pathetic lack of self-esteem.  

A woman is a flesh and blood human being deserving of the same respect and dignity given to any man. She is justified in expecting that all of her human rights should be upheld. She should have complete freedom and control over her own life including her physical safety. She is NOT a sexual object. She is NOT a punching bag. She is NOT a target for emotional abuse. She is simply a person who wants to live a long healthy life, in peace without the fear of physical harm. Do you not want the same for the women in your life? How would you feel if a relative in your family was severely beaten or brutally raped? We don’t even want to consider such events because they are too horrible to contemplate and yet these tragedies happen day after day all over the world and particularly in areas ravaged by poverty where the women are considered to be mere property to be exploited at will.  

It is a sad reflection on all of us that we allow this type of barbaric behavior to go unpunished. Too often the perpetrators hide behind the archaic laws of their land or misguided religious beliefs that they distort into an excuse that allows them to treat women worse than animals. Political and religious freedom are important but they take a back seat to the safety and well-being of 3 billion human beings. Criminals who beat and rape females should not be allowed to hide behind laws or religious dogma. They  should be held accountable for their disgusting actions and punished accordingly. There can be no leniency when someone’s life is placed in danger. When this type of crime is not addressed appropriately it encourages others to engage in this type of destructive behavior without the fear of repercussion.  

When a man beats a woman, or rapes a woman, or verbally abuses a woman he must be held accountable. It must be demonstrated to the world that we will no longer tolerate such criminal conduct. For women to try and survive in extreme poverty is challenging enough without the added threat of physical harm shadowing them at all times. No one should be forced to live that way. Treating half of the people on earth as inferior subordinates hurts all of us. It demeans all of us. It makes us so much less than we can be. If the human race is ever going to lift a billion people out of poverty we are going to have to understand that we are all connected on a deep and meaningful level. We are going to have to realize that all people everywhere, no matter what their gender, are complete equals in every way. We are going to have to embrace the idea that we are ALL one humanity and we all need to love and respect each other.  



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