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An Obscenity . . . .

By Paul Hosford

For months, the Democrats complained that the media was biased against Hillary Clinton, to which the Republicans scoffed. Now Republicans are beginning to resent the media’s treatment of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. As one woman put it: Women, regardless of party affiliation, are treated as “second-class citizens” by the national press.

Women have for a long time felt they’re treated like second-class citizens. Women have made great strides in the past century, but still face many biases and obstacles. Women can point to the fact that they still receive less pay for the same job as a man, that the proverbial “glass ceiling” preventing them from reaching upper management still exists, and that they are a distinct minority in elected state and federal offices. At home, women still do most of the cleaning and cooking, and still do most child care tasks.

Societies are considered more liberal or conservative depending on a number of factors, including the status of women. As challenging as women find it in America today, especially when compared to certain liberal European countries, women are facing much worse conditions in more conservative parts of the world.

In July for example, five women from Baluchistan, a province in Pakistan — three of them in their teens — were beaten, shot and buried in a ditch while still alive. Why? Were they mass murderers, child molesters, members of the “Democrat Party”? Not exactly.

They were guilty of something worse. They all wanted to choose their own husbands, to marry for love. In the Baluchistan province of Pakistan, as in many other parts of the world, women have no choice in such matters. Like Mormon polygamists in this country, marriages are arranged by families and usually involve pairing a young girl with a much older man.

The Pakistani Parliament, not exactly noted for its liberal-mindedness, took notice. When the Baluchistani representative addressed the flabbergasted assembly, he bluntly told the other members to accept it as a part of his people’s traditions.

He said that such traditions help stop obscenity.

The Nazis were fond of burying people alive. They would force prisoners, often Gypsies or Jews, to dig their own graves and then make other prisoners bury them. They would later dig the victim up just so other prisoners could see the incredible agony still etched on the dead person’s face.

One can only hope that the five women in Pakistan were near enough to death that they didn’t suffer long after being buried.

And it goes without saying that the obscenity here was the attack on these women. Defending it was just as obscene.

It boggles the mind how anyone could subject anyone else to such inhuman behavior. It is the stuff of horror movies, where psychopaths massacre pretty girls. It seems inconceivable that entire societies could engage in this sort of behavior — it’s as if movie villains Jason and Freddy were running societies like Baluchistanā€˜s.

There are those among us today — many would say in the media — those who still seem to resent the strides women in this society have made. Just down the road in Columbus, there’s a religious sect that requires women to wear drab grey dresses and walk several steps behind their husbands. Fortunately, not even the most conservative members of our society would ever dream of treating women the way Baluch tribal people do.

It is encouraging that two women are now on the forefront of American presidential politics, and although neither is in contention for the presidency, both wield considerable influence. One can only hope that as women’s voices continue to grow stronger, the societal problems all women face — both here and abroad — will gain greater attention and much-needed improvements will continue. The U.S. has sent $5.8 billion to tribal areas of Pakistan alone since 2001 ($10 billion in total aid). All Americans, but women especially, should demand that as a requirement for this sort of funding, the abuse and killing of women must stop.

Women play a vital role here in Albion. From retail businesses to banking, health care to education — not to mention homemaking — women are working hard to keep our community going. I would like to invite my readers — as well as my fellow contributors to this editorial page — to share their thoughts and concerns about the progress women have made, missteps that may have been taken, and the challenges they still face, locally, nationally and internationally.