Some Don’t Get to Celebrate International Women’s Day

by Suz on March 8, 2011

To the day I die, I’ll never forget how the operating room filled with the smell of charred flesh and burnt hair.  Her dark Indian skin peeled off her body like a snake shedding its skin.  The surgeons performed an escharotomy, cutting her skin allowing for the intense swelling that occurs when a body has been burned.

Image found Here

As I looked at the burns covering eighty percent of her body, I caught my first glimpse of the way some women are treated in the world today.

I was seventeen...my father offered to bring me with him to work, as a consolation prize for not allowing me to attend a raging party.

I don’t know what her ‘offense’ was, but it was enough to cause her husband to bind her and light her on fire in a parking lot.   In India, it’s doubtful if anyone would raise an eyebrow.  It’s the way disobedient or undervalued wives are ‘handled.’

This past week, I provided anesthesia for a woman, badly burned and it brought back the memories from more than ten years ago.

It has to be a depressing thought for some Indian girls, knowing their future is not in their hands – knowing their livelihood depends on a whim of male family members.

That is assuming, they are even born.

The disparagement for females is so strong in India and China that many females are aborted- just because they’re girls.  According to Unicef, up to 50 million girls and women are missing from India’s population.  In China- same story, different country.

While the government of India has tried to curb this practice by banning gender-revealing ultrasounds and celebrating a national ‘Girl Child Day’, some just find it easier to get rid of their little girls.

Lakshmi, a 28 year old mother murdered her second baby girl by refusing to feed her.  Answering why, she stated, “Instead of her suffering the way I do, I thought it was better to get rid of her.” *

If that many little girls are being executed, it should come as no big surprise that over 5,000 women in India are burnt to death because their dowry is seen as too immodest.**

This genocide can be stopped only with awareness and empowerment of the women who are at risk.  Educated women are not only able to make a living, but are able to stop the myth that says girl babies are unlucky and a drain on resources.

There are many women and men who are taking a stand for those who can’t stand for themselves.   And today, those women are being celebrated.

Today is International Women’s Day.

Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held globally to inspire women and celebrate achievements.  Although women still lack access to education and healthcare and are on the receiving end of more violence than men, they celebrate because things are getting better.

There are female astronauts and heads of state, women rising out of poverty via microfiance loans, and women having fistulas fixed in Tanzania.

Celebrate today.  But as you celebrate, don’t forget those who are so often forgotten.  Remember the helpless woman laying on the operating room.

Fight to make it known that burning your wife is NOT okay.  Murdering your baby girls is NOT acceptable.

And if I were you, I’d mention that in some countries, kids and husbands give their mothers and wives presents for International Women’s Day.

Today, I’m celebrating the fact that I have the freedom to obtain a higher education, a husband who although might not buy me a present today- treats me with love and respect, and a country that allows me to write whatever the heck I want on this blog.

What are YOU celebrating today?


*Gendercide.org
**Unicef.org

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Kim March 8, 2011 at 8:25 am

Lovely post. Lovely and haunting, which was probably the desired intent. I do often forget how lucky I am – how lucky all women who do not have to marry out of requirement, worry that they might be killed just for their gender, and live in fear on a daily basis truly are. Thanks for posting and for reminding me to celebrate my gender and the progress that has been and can be made if we all keep pushing for it.

Suz March 8, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Thanks for commenting on it. I feel like sometimes when I write about the sad stuff, no one comments because it’s so sad- or maybe they don’t know what to say. Sometimes I have a really hard time writing it too, but I’m passionate about it, so I keep it up. I heart you.

Doe Zing March 8, 2011 at 10:22 am

Cheers to our two daughters! Having lived in 5 countries, I can heartily affirm that women living in the US can thank God daily for their blessings. Hats off to our unique, articulate adult daughters who have embraced the cultures of the world…and have not taken freedom for granted.

Jenn @ South of Sheridan March 8, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Its terrifying to think that women are still considered so disposable in some places of the world. It really makes me grateful for what I have.

Stopping by from SITS 31dbbb
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Suz March 8, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Thanks for stopping by! It is terrifying, huh? When I think about all the stuff that I take for granted (which is a lot), it makes me feel guilty sometimes.

Curiosity March 8, 2011 at 3:44 pm

It is so ridiculously sad that we still live in a world where things like that could be met with anything less than horror. Thank you for putting this out there and making us all take a moment to remember.
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Suz March 8, 2011 at 4:55 pm

It was (and still is) pretty horrifying to me.

Caren with a "C" March 8, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Wow, I never knew that happened to women in India. I live in a city that has many Indian people. We even have an Indian cultural center. I have a couple Indian neighbors and my daughter’s best friend’s parents are Indian. My husband works with lots of people from India. No one ever told me this! I’ll have to have a talk with them. Thanks for informing me! Sometimes we are caught up in our own little world that we have no idea what is going on elsewhere.
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Suz March 8, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Pretty crazy, huh? Obviously it’s not the whole country- but seems pretty pervasive. I’m sure the attitudes are way different in a lot of your friends here in the U.S. I’d be interested to hear what you find out.

bianca March 8, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Thanks for writing this Suz! This is actually the first year I’ve even heard on International Women’s Day. I’m currently reading this book called “Half the Sky” and it’s filled with accounts of women who are/were facing oppression of some form or another but are turning that in to an opportunity for a better life for themselves, for others, or for both. It’s a hard reality to think that still, in the 21st century not all women are treated equally…I pray that reality does happen. And soon.
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Suz March 8, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Oh my gosh- I LOVED that book. I wrote a post about a month ago about that book and the human trafficking and stuff. It was just so heartbreaking. Another good book is called, “Price of Honor”, can’t remember the author. Talks about how so many of these girls are killed by their own family b/c they’ve ‘dishonored’ their family (by being raped or something similar). It’s outrageous!

Brenna @ Almost All The Truth March 8, 2011 at 8:58 pm

‘Half The Sky’ is one of the most important books we can read for ourselves, imho. If you go to their website you can also find out about a whole host of organizations that work to fight oppression and violence against girls and women. We can all make a difference, even if the obstacles are great.
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Suz March 8, 2011 at 9:06 pm

I loved the book ‘Half the Sky’, it was so well written and informative. They really gave the women faces and stories instead of a bunch of statistics. Thank YOU for writing about IWD. (I’m lazy and didn’t want to type the whole thing again) :)

Meg March 8, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Awesome post!

It seems so unbelievable that 50% of the earths population is so undervalued. Heartbreaking that so many women and girls are denied education, food, medical care, freedom and the opportunity to reach their full potential. Not to mention mutilated or killed …

It makes me so grateful that I have the good fortune to live where I do – media objectification, gender based pay gaps, glass ceiling and all 😉
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Marty Wombacher March 8, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Wow, I had no idea this was going on. When you read facts like that, you really feel spoiled for complaining about things going on in this country. It’s great of you to put information like this out and make people aware. Personally, I’m celebrating the fact I still have a job and a paycheck. Something I never would’ve been celebrating a few years ago.

Ms. Wasteland March 8, 2011 at 8:05 pm

I want to say I loved this post but I don’t know if that’s appropriate when the information presented was so grave. Thank you for writing this. I’ll be sharing it on FB, Twitter, and linking to it on Friday. Everyone needs to read it.

Pamela March 8, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Thank you for sharing this and giving us the gift of awareness today. It’s difficult to keep in perspective how much we take for granted that, compared to many other women around the world, SHOULD be celebrated to the highest. I’ll join you and celebrate that, God willing, my daughters and their daughters can celebrate the same freedoms we do.

TRR March 8, 2011 at 8:24 pm

So heartbreaking. And here I was joking earlier that there’s no International Men’s Day. Because EVERYDAY is International Men’s Day. I often forget that though we may complain here in the US about unequal pay and objectification, we don’t have to suffer the atrocities committed against women in many other countries. Thanks for reminding us all.

Suz March 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm

I was going to make a similar crack about international mens day- and then I googled it. It’s November 19th or something like that. Yeah, a few cents less pay doesn’t seem like a huge deal anymore, huh?

Tracie March 8, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Thank you for sharing this…especially today.

It is so important that we realize that the fight for human rights for women is not over.
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Suz March 8, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Thanks for reading and commenting- And for retweeting it. It always makes me feel good that other people feel passionate about the same things that I do.

Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama March 8, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Thank you for writing such an important post!
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Suz March 8, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Brenna @ Almost All The Truth March 8, 2011 at 9:01 pm

I can’t imagine an experience like that. I have seen many images, but none could compare to having to actually see someone so badly hurt in such a horrible way firsthand…

Thank you for writing about International Women’s Day. Reading through the comments, it demonstrates just how important it is to get the message out about what women worldwide suffer. We have made enormous progress in the last 100 years in many places, but we can do better. I believe in better.
Brenna @ Almost All The Truth recently posted..It’s International Women’s Day 2011!

Nicole Coffin March 8, 2011 at 10:20 pm

I can’t believe this violence towards women still occurs today. it’s barbaric. i don’t blame the 28 year old mother for killing her daughter though. i don’t know if i could stand to witness something so horrific happening to my daughter. it’s really scary to know that such a place exists where death is favorable to living.

Sandra March 8, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Suz, you really do rock! This post was so powerful and terrific, I couldn’t take my eyes off your words.
…I’ll admit, it sort of made me ashamed for whining about the mean nurses, but then again, your last line did specifically state that we live in a country where we get to write what we want.
You’re spectacular. Never stop educating me.
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Juice March 9, 2011 at 11:13 am

Great post!! It’s pretty sad that cultures still accept these atrocities as normal. Women deserve a day to celebrate.

Rose's Daughter March 9, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Great Post! It’s sad that in this day and age, women are still being treated as second class citizens in some parts of the world!

JDaniel4's Mom March 9, 2011 at 10:19 pm

What terrible things to happen for terrible reasons!
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Kristen March 9, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Haunting is exactly the right word. And so, so important. The stories of how women were treated was one of the most powerful memories my husband has brought back from A’stan and Iraq
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Amy @ Marvelous Mommy March 9, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Stopping by from the #CommentHour!!
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Heather March 9, 2011 at 10:19 pm

What an amazing post. I can’t wait to read more of your writing!
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Suz March 10, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Thanks, all of my posts aren’t this sad. Although some of them are. I try to mix it up. :)

MamaS March 9, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Wow…that’s all I can say. Very powerful post.

I am so grateful to live in a place where I can express myself. And a place where I feel valued. It’s a tough reminder that not every woman is as lucky.

Thanks for the reality check. It’s very needed sometimes!

Lindsey March 9, 2011 at 10:20 pm

It is so heartbreaking that there are places in the world, and even right here at home, where women are treated so poorly. Thanks for bringing this to light.
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Karolina March 9, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Wow…what an intense story that you’ve shared. It’s hard to see how people are treated in every culture, but it’s especially hard to think of something that atrocious going on…
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Savannah Hawkins March 9, 2011 at 10:21 pm

stopping in from comment hour! congrats!
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ManWIfeDog March 9, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Beautiful post! I celebrated for sure and it’s important to think of those who could not. VERY powerful! Visiting from #commenthour
on SITS’s Twitter party!
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Holly March 9, 2011 at 10:23 pm

How lucky we are to be able to celebrate life any way we like without fear of repercussions.

Austin Girl March 9, 2011 at 10:23 pm

What a disturbing but truthful (sad) post on women in other cultures. Shocking and cruel. I don’t like seeing anyone or animals suffering or in pain. I want to save them all. You are such a brave soul. xoxo

Suz March 10, 2011 at 5:22 pm

I would like to save them all too- but then it gets depressing because there’s no way. So I’m trying to focus on one person at a time.

Karen T March 9, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Thank you for sharing that! It’s easy for people to forget some of the challenges that still exist in this world. I’m happy to celebrate your freedom with you!
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Patrice March 9, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Wow… how awful for that woman. It is so sad how some women in other cultures are treated. Thank you for bringing awareness to this sad reality!
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Jenae March 9, 2011 at 11:13 pm

very Powerful post!
I am celebrating today my Husband who works hard to provide for our little family, and like you a country who alows me to blog about whatever I want. and basically everything I have!
Thankyou for this post!

Suz March 10, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Speaking of the blogging about whatever we want- can you imagine living someplace where we could get arrested for what we said?

The Reason You Come March 9, 2011 at 11:25 pm

That is so sad and sickening and haunting and horrific and…I honestly cannot find the right adjective to describe the horror of it. Perhaps there is no word. I’m lucky to belong to a society that does not encourage or condone the burning of its women and the killing of baby girls, although in a lot of ways, it is still a patriarchal society. Thanks for sharing this story.
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Making It Work Mom March 9, 2011 at 11:27 pm

What a powerful post. Thank your for the education and the passion.

Ro Little March 9, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Thank you for this post. I live such a sheltered life and I really don’t hear too many of these stories. It is unbelievable to think that things like this actually happen. But I guess they do. Hopefully things will change. I celebrate women.
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Suz March 10, 2011 at 5:40 pm

I happen to be really interested/passionate about stuff like this, so that’s why I write the stories- because I know a lot of people don’t ever hear about it. A lot of people like to keep it hidden, I’m sure.

Toqua's Crafts March 10, 2011 at 1:16 am

We U.S. citizens are so lucky for so many reasons. Thank you for the reminder as we all tend to forget.

Visiting from the SITS Tweet Party #CommentHour!

Blessings,
Toqua
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shelley March 10, 2011 at 11:15 am

what a great post! my dad also thought it would be “fun” to bring me to work with him in the ER when i was a teen and when i wasn’t being grossed out by what i saw… he was telling us the daily grossities at the um dinner table… but i am thankful that i live in a country where i am proud to be a woman! stopping over from last nights #commenthour my little fingers don’t type that fast!
*waving,
shelley
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Lanita March 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Amen.

Jennifer March 11, 2011 at 7:55 am

I’m so glad you shared. I knew about these attitudes in China, but I didn’t know that India was this way, too. It’s truly sickening to think of what goes on in the rest of the world while we enjoy every comfort in our cozy homes, big cars, etc. I complain about too many things that are really not important at all.
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Irene March 11, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Hi! Pamelot sent me here! You come highly recommended!

It is sad that the male populace of India regards women as second class. Any female in their eyes, India or American. If they could, they’d disrespect American women with the same abuse. But they know better. My husband has some friends who have witnessed their verbal abuse upon their wives. The 2nd and 3rd generation Hindus are slowly dispensing of this.

China has population issues, so they feel getting rid of the reason for making more people is the answer. The number of adoptable Chinese baby girls is amazing!

Suz March 14, 2011 at 8:22 pm

I’m glad you came over! I’ve got american friends who I see verbally abused- pisses me off, no matter where it’s coming from. But I do think you’re right that 2nd and 3rd generation are not really doing this at all.

Maranda March 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm

That is so horrible. I can’t imagine seeing that at 17…or living in those places where women are so undervalued. Thank you for sharing this tragedy…it’s always good to open our eyes a bit more to the true world around us…
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