Gender inequity and violence against women have been major problems for centuries. In the United States, women’s rights became an issue to be addressed in the late 19th century when the outspoken Susan B. Anthony launched the women’s suffrage movement. Even then, Anthony’s efforts only came to fruition fourteen years after her death with the 1920 ratification of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote. Fortunately, in most Western societies today, women are considered equal to their male counterparts.
Unfortunately, gender-based violence and the mistreatment of women remains a harsh reality in many countries around the world. A report released today by the United Nations shows that violence against Afghan women, for example, is widespread and often goes unpunished. To make matters worse, the Afghan government does nothing to address the impunity with which these crimes occur; within the state structure, no legislation protecting women’s rights exist, thus allowing rape and other acts of discrimination to continue.
Women actively involved in sectors of public life are most frequently attacked. Political leaders within Afghanistan must do more to address this issue and ensure that women and girls do not have to live in a state of perpetual fear. It is time that someone like Susan B. Anthony stands up against these abhorrent acts and condemns gender inequity wherever it takes place.