By Zara Khan
January 22, 2018
“Unfortunately, this isn’t the United States alone, several issues still remain silently folded away–ones that Americans often fight for women outside of the US.”
2017 was the year of women.
From the first Women’s March to the #MeToo and TimesUp movements against sexual assault and harassment, the voices of women were proven to be stronger than ever before.
This weekend started 2018 off with another wave of louder voices of women who had finally seen what their voices could do. But let’s take a step back.
While protests play a vital role in bringing issues on agenda’s the reality is protests do not in themselves often create change. What they do is raise awareness. And unless that awareness leads to direct action, change will never take place. Often the power of protest remains if the right issues are not addressed within them.
Topics that are usually discussed in relation to women’s rights in America include gender pay gap, objectification, and rape culture. This year, one of the biggest ways the Women’s March hopes to make a difference is by creating electoral engagement.
Unfortunately, just in the United States alone, several issues still remain silently folded away–ones that Americans often fight for women outside of the US.
One of the concerns that are often overlooked in the US is the issue of forced marriages. Thousands of young girls are forced into marriages with US laws remaining against their favor.
Layli Miller-Muro the executive director of the Tahirih Justice Center, a national nonprofit that provides legal help for immigrant women forced to marry recently documented 3,000 forced marriages in the U.S. during a two-year period.
“[The parents] can go to a court and get a marriage certificate, indicate they’re waiving the minimum age requirement,” Miller-Muro says. “And the court has no procedures in place to ensure the child is wanting this. And so we’ve seen this happen.”
Rise of Female Genital Mutilation:
Over the past 10 years, the number of women and girls at risk for female genital mutilation (FGM) in the United States has more than doubled.
According to the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), more than half a million women and girls in the U.S. are at risk of undergoing FGM in the U.S. or abroad or have already undergone the procedure.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center reported more than 3,500 sex trafficking cases in the US last year.
Under federal law, anyone under 18 years of age-induced into commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking — regardless of whether the trafficker uses force, fraud, or coercion.
Just the three topics of forced marriage, FGM, and sex trafficking are topics that are not widely discussed on platforms like the women’s march. While these three are issues that are just as life-changing as sexual assault and harassment, they do not get the same attention they deserve and because of that will continue to rise in their number of cases because of the lack of attention given to them.
Let’s hope in 2018, we can make strides towards solving issues like these just as we have with movements like #MeToo and TimesUp.