The personal is, really is, political. So when will modern political leaders (almost all male) wake up and begin, properly, and resolutely, to protect the basic human rights of people (mostly women) who remain in fear of their lives and physical well-being?
Why is there so little clamour against the barbaric brutality which girls and women especially continue to face in various parts of the world, even our own? Politicians unwilling to challenge barbarism – even at no personal risk to themselves – are deeply culpable, as are we all if we remain mute.
Please sign and forward this e-petition (for UK citizens), posted 25 June 2012 on the HM Government website:
If you have a Twitter account and would like to draw more attention to this issue, please use the hashtag #NoFGM and follow @NoFGM1. Thank you.
Whether we consider
* the brutality of Egyptian soldiers who beat protesters and (until the judiciary intervened) submitted women to ‘virginity tests’,
* ultra-Orthodox Israelis who (despite protests by national leaders) spat at small schoolgirls adjudged to be inappropriately garbed,
* British families who send their daughters ‘home’ to undergo genital mutilation,
* extreme Right Americans who through the notion of ‘personhood’ want to deny their female fellow citizens any entitlement to self-determine their own fertility, or
* fanatical Iranians who suggest it’s OK to execute women alleged to have had adulterous affairs,
the challenge remains:
How best must powerful and influential people in the free world speak in defence of those whose personal self-determination is so fundamentally threatened?
Versions vary, but there is a quote attributed to two writers, both of whom suffered greatly under the Nazis for their humanity and decency, which says it all:
They came for the Communists, and I didn’t object – For I wasn’t a Communist;
They came for the Socialists, and I didn’t object – For I wasn’t a Socialist;
They came for the labor leaders, and I didn’t object – For I wasn’t a labor leader;
They came for the Jews, and I didn’t object – For I wasn’t a Jew;
Then they came for me – And there was no one left to object.
[Martin Niemoller, German Protestant Pastor (1892-1984)]
First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out.
And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
[Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian whose involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution (1906-1945)]
This is not ‘just’ about women’s rights, though it is indeed about these as well. It is about the core requirement to see how the personal connects with the political.
As Bonhoffer and Niemoller acknowledged to their own great cost, we all have a duty to protect each other, whether in our personal lives or across divides of culture and geography.
Any politician in our comfortable western society who is unwilling to defend with heart and soul the individual liberty of innocent others in grave personal danger, is a politician unworthy of support.
To repeat: The personal really is political.
If you have a Twitter account and would like to draw more attention to FGM issues, please use the hashtag #NoFGM and follow @NoFGM1. Thank you.