Whenever I write about women’s rights issues, there’s always some blowback from someone in the “manosphere” about how First-World feminists should shut up about their cushy lives and address the problems of women in Muslim nations and developing countries. And they do have a point. We should care about those women. We should care about ALL women. Fighting for equal pay and respect in the First World doesn’t preclude caring about and working to effect change elsewhere. But I realized I haven’t personally addressed these issues on my blog. And so I thought I’d start today.
One of the most heartbreaking women’s rights crises today is in El Salvador. Gang wars and bloodshed have plagued this Central American country for years. What happens to scores of women because of these problems is unspeakable. In one account, relayed via NPR’s Embedded podcast, a 13 year old girl was forced to marry a gang member in exchange for the safety of her family. The young girl had two children by the time she was 15, and she and her children suffer physical abuse at the hands of her “husband”. This is not a unique story.
Another enormous tragedy among the women of El Salvador is the criminalization of abortion. I’m not going to go off on a tangent and get on some Pro-Choice high horse. Truth be told, my own opinions on abortion are nuanced and emotionally-charged. What I’m talking about here is the criminalization of abortion to the extent that if a women spontaneously and naturally miscarries (a painful and psychologically trying experience) she is charged with murder. That is how dire the situation is for women in El Salvador. There are many documented cases of women serving prison terms for several years because they suffered a miscarriage and were mistakenly accused of trying to abort their babies themselves.
So what do we “cushy First World feminists” do to help these women? We can share information and news stories about the plight of El Salvadorian women so their voices are heard and their stories aren’t buried. We can partner with human rights organizations like Amnesty International and SHARE El Salvador who support community outreach and grassroots efforts in the region to mitigate the crises with education, exchange programs, and other resources. Learn about these organizations and what small part you can play to make a difference. Then share what you learned. Small steps. Potentially life-altering outcomes. That’s how we conquer any problem.
Have other ideas or thoughts on the crisis in El Salvador? Please share them in the comments below.