Sunday, April 6, 2014

Jimmy Carter's new book on Violence Against Women

"Yet although economic disparity is a great and growing problem, I have become convinced that the most serious and unaddressed worldwide challenge is the deprivation and abuse of women and girls, largely caused by a false interpretation of carefully selected religious texts and a growing tolerance of violence and warfare, unfortunately following the example set during my lifetime by the United States.“  These are the words of Jimmy Carter in the introduction to his new book A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power. Carter states that the Bible, the Koran and other cherished texts proclaim a commitment to justice and mercy, and equality of treatment between men and women.  However, “some selected scriptures are interpreted, almost exclusively by powerful male leaders within the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and other faiths, to proclaim the lower status of women and girls.   He goes on to say that these claims are used to justify gross and sustained acts of discrimination and violence against women, including unpunished rape and other sexual abuse, infanticide of newborn girls and gender selective abortion of female fetuses, a worldwide trafficking of women and girls, honor killings, genital mutilation, lower pay and fewer promotions for women and greater political advantages for men.

Because the Carter Center has worked to combat neglected tropical diseases throughout the world, its people have interacted with remote communities in some 70 developing countries.  They have seen how religious beliefs and violence have impacted the lives of women in patriarchal societies.  “Almost everywhere, we find that women are relegated to secondary positions of influence and authority within a community but almost always do most of the work and prove to be the key participants in any successful project.  When there is a shortage of food or limited access to education, the men and boys have the first priority……when a civil conflict erupts, women are the primary victims of bombs and missiles, the displaced adults in charge of children, and the victims of rape. Beyond all this are the special biases that come from the distortion of religious beliefs and the imposition of discriminatory tribal customs that lead to honor killings, genital cutting, or child marriage.”

You have probably read enough to make you decide that you must read this book, or you can’t stand any more.  I found the book disturbing and hopeful, because President Carter and The Carter Center have not only discussed an array of terrible problems but have suggested helpful, local approaches.  In subsequent columns I will write about their approach to genital cutting, child marriage and dowry deaths, and sexual slavery and prostitution (including what goes on in the Bay Area).  For now, think about your religion or spiritual path followlng an egalitarian mother-father God, or moving beyond humans to embrace all living things.  Whatever is best for you.

For a complete change of pace - here’s what the Point Reyes Light (3/27/14) reported about alcohol use in Marin from ‘available data’.  Nearly one-quarter of the county’s adults reported binge drinking in the past month. The county has averaged 32 deaths annually from drug overdoses in recent years - mostly from prescription drugs.  Nearly half the county’s 11th graders drink alcohol and one-third binge drink.  A new program to deal with teen drug and alcohol problems is being developed at the San Geronimo Valley Community Center.  A meeting in Bolinas will take place on May 13th, 9:30-11:30 am.   Watch the Hearsay for more information.
Sadja Greenwood   past columns on this blog    Leave me a message, and I will answer you.

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