Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Image from Flickr.com

By Kristina Gardner

By now I’m sure almost everyone has heard the news about Saudi Arabian women finally getting the right to vote. This is exciting because they are one of the very last countries to pass the right for women to vote. Which is hard to believe in our day and age, right? Well, not more than a week after this came out, it then surfaced that a woman was to receive 10 lashes for driving. You read that right, for driving, a car, like most of us do every day without thinking.

So it begs the question: Is Saudi Arabia moving two steps forward and one step back? They are moving forward to let them vote and make decisions for their country, but somehow they still receive lashes and sometimes jail time for driving a car, as well as not being allowed out of their home without a man with them, and they can’t vote in all elections or without a male relative’s permission Talk about oppression and sidelining women! This would be like in America if when women got the right to vote, in 1920, they weren’t allowed to have jobs or walk alone. But that was then, this is the 21st century! Can you imagine living your day to day life – especially as a mother or a working woman—and not having a car or be able to go to the grocery store without a male present? It’s crazy to think about but that is these women’s reality.  Is it too much to hope that they change their laws to include women instead of excluding them?

Rape Definiton Needs Revising

By Emily Mathis

According to a recent article in the NY Times, the federal definition of rape is too narrow. The definition, written 80 years ago, states that rape is “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will”. This definition leaves out different types of
rape such as oral or anal penetration and most noticeably it leaves out men.

Leaving out these important types of rape can lead to more underreporting and misleading information. It also can send the wrong message to the victims possibly making them feel like their rape didn’t count.

Law enforcement agencies and feminist groups are calling for a revision of this narrow definition. And after reading the article, I am with them. It is astounding the numbers of crimes that aren’t federally recognized because they don’t fit the definition. According to the article, in Chicago there were some 1400 sexual assaults reported and none of them appeared in the federal crime report because Chicago has a “broader” definition of rape that doesn’t fit into the federal one.

What could it mean if the definition is broadened? For starters, it would help give an accurate report on rape statistics so people would know what’s really going on out there. Secondly, it could help funding for rape crisis centers that depend on federal funding to survive. And lastly, it’s just another way to help make victims heard.

According to the article, there will be a subcommittee meeting on October 18 and the issue will be brought up then. Let’s hope that these voices are heard and the definition will be revised.

Did You Miss These?

NPR talks gender, dancing, and Chaz Bono.

Some reasons why women should be on top of the business world.

Ms. Magazine announces an essay contest for their 40th anniversary.

Do men hold the answer for ending rape in South Africa?

The NYPD has some interesting advice for women in Brooklyn to avoid rape.

Article about how Australia is falling behind when it comes to women in business.

The cost of a non-diverse media.

Is Iceland the best place for women?

“Up All Night” the most feminist show on TV?

Saudi Arabian Women Are Given the Right to Vote

By Bonnie Messbarger

This weekend King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia announced that he was going to grant women the right to vote and run in future elections. This is a major win in the fight for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. The New York Times calls it, “the biggest change in a decade for women.” The last big change being a woman’s right to obtain her own national identification card back in 2001.

However, even with these new developments, Saudi women are still not allowed to go into public without a male chaperone (which is usually a male relative), they are not allowed to drive, and men generally prevent them from participating in any legal activities. Along with social acceptance, these things would still hinder women from being able to vote or run for election. Just as in the 1960’s when public education for women was introduced; it took years for it to be acceptable among the Saudi people.

So, how much is granting them the right to vote actually going to change when they are still under complete public control of men? If your husband, brother, or father refuse to take you to vote, or run for election, how are you to accomplish this on your own? While the right to vote, and run for election is a huge step in the right direction, there is still so much to do. We need more rights granted to these women. Something as simple as being able to drive a car, or go into public alone, which we in America take for granted so often, could be a huge turning point for these women in their journey for equality.

While the bigger picture looks a little bleak, the women of Saudi Arabia appear to be hopeful. The New York Times said, “Despite the snail’s pace of change, women on Sunday were optimistic that the right to vote and run would give them leverage to change the measures, big and small, that hem them in.”

We wish for more change to come sooner rather than later for these women. We will continue to root for you overseas!