"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Sunday, November 30, 2008



I was just reading an article by Irene Kahn, Secretary General of Amnesty International, about violence against women. Irene wrote of how a thirteen year-old girl, Aisha Ibrahim Dubulow, was stoned to death in October by a group of men in Somalia; she was accused of adultery, although according to her father she had been raped and tried to report it. What brings men - and it is primarily men that are involved in such acts - to perpetrate such inhamane acts against women (for any reason)?

Amnesty International launched a global campaign in 2004 to Stop Violence Against Women. Despite the successes that can be attributed to the Amnesty campaign, violence against women is still a widespread problem worldwide, including in the USA. As Irene makes clear in her article, poverty and violence "combine to restrict women's choices and put women at risk from violence." And worse; "70% of the world's poor are women."

It seems evident that it will require not just changes in laws (plus accountability) to protect women, but real poverty reduction and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. If you are interested in women's issues, particularly from a human rights standpoint, Amnesty International is an organization for you. Check out their Violence Against Women Webpage.

You can also email your Senator to advocate for passage of the International Violence Against Women Act (S. 2279).

I will close with a poem that I wrote in 2007 in response to a report of an honor killing, another horrific form of violence against women. This is the first time I have shared it publicly.




By Leonard Eiger
Written June 3, 2007

Where is the honor in killing
a young woman, only 17
whose only crime was to
fall in love with the wrong man?

She was Yazidi,
He was a Sunni,
They were in love.

Her name was Doa,
and Doa’s love was so strong,
she ran off with the young man
and converted to his faith.

But they kidnapped her
and dragged her back
and stoned her to death.

The rage that brought the men
of her family and neighborhood
out for revenge was blinding
even in the full light of day.

“Little more than an internal matter”,
“simply a tribal and moral incident”,
“nothing to do with religion”, they said.

She was Yazidi and he a Sunni,
and so her relatives decreed that
she must pay with her life for
“crimes against their religion.”

But what was the real crime,
and who were the criminals,
and when will the killing stop?

There is no honor in killing.

Author’s Note: Doa Khalil Aswad was a 17 year old who lived in Northern Iraq, and was a member of a religious minority called the Yazidi, an ancient Kurdish faith with strong links to Sufism and non-Islamic ancient Babylonian beliefs. On April 7th, 2007 she was taken from her house by some Yazidi men (including some relatives) and was taken to the public square where she was stoned to death for being in love with a young Sunni Muslim man. Quotes used in the poem are from a May 6, 2007 ABC News report, The Dishonorable Death of Doa, at http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=3142288.

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