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    Sunday, November 26, 2017

    I am a Girl and I’m no less


    By Nour Jarrouj

    Yesterday, I was in a café with friends when I suddenly saw a little girl – about 15 years old sitting with her husband who looked like he was in his late 30s and they had a little baby in tow.

    I thought to myself, why does she have to take responsibility of a family and a baby while she is still a baby herself?

    Our community has so many traditions that violate women’s rights and underestimate the women and girls’ role in building and strengthening our society. Honor crimes, girls’ circumcision, early marriages, girls’ school dropout, women’s stoning, new female born killings, harassments and rapes. Those are all emotional and physical kinds of violence - some of them are applied to both boys and girls but mainly girls and women.

    Basic needs like education, work, decision making and financial independency are some girls’ dreams.

    A documentary was made three days ago by an Arabian channel talking to young men asking them what they would say if their sisters wanted to work and had to go to other cities alone. Their replies were devastating and shameful. All the replies were that it’s forbidden and this this is our community’s traditions and one of them said: I will shoot her! The journalist asked him: who gives you the right to do so? The young man proudly replied: my father, brothers, relatives and my whole community! Keep in mind though that most of these men are educated and had traveled abroad for education and work.

    93% of women worldwide have been harassed verbally and/or physically. Many women suffer from domestic violence at the hands of their husband, father or brothers. Recently, one of the countries has adjusted their civil constitution to allow girls to be wed at the age of nine. Other regulation is to allow the rapist to marry his victim so she won’t be considered dis-honored and countless women discriminating regulations around the globe have been announced.

    Types of violence
    We can put violence in two main categories: Emotional and Physical.

    Emotional: by taking her out of school, calling her bad names or that she is worthless depending on her gender, when you cover her up against her will, when you terrify her if she goes alone outside the house.

    Physical: when you beat her up for not playing by your rules and standards, when you see a girl in the street and harass her or rape her by taking advantage of her weaker body strength and the list goes on..

    Both are harmful, when you trap a girl at home while her brother is going to school every day, or when you tell her to cover herself if she goes out with her mother, while her brother is playing football in the neighborhood wearing shorts and shirt. When you beat your girl up if you see her talking to a boy but feel proud of her brother if he talks to a beautiful girl. When you circumcise your daughter so she won’t feel anything sexually and consider it as a way to prevent her from having sex and enjoying it for the rest of her life. These all will definitely make girls feel like they are worthless and different than their brothers and other males around them and will probably lead to the death of their abilities and capabilities.

    What has to be done…?
    I believe that if we have to end violence against women and girls, we should start by spreading awareness among little girls in schools and youth clubs, about cherishing themselves and their worth starting at a very young age. In addition to adult women sensitization groups.

    Those little girls will be the mothers of future generations, and they will raise their children with the concept of peace and equality.

    These women are your mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives, we should cherish and respect them.

    Instead of trapping them into a housewife stereotype, support them in continuing their education. Include them in the work field and you will be shocked of the strength and security they will bring to your home. I’m a girl, smart and strong and I AM NO LESS. I will lift you up when you have fallen and have your back when you’re down - just believe in me.

    Nour Jarrouj, IYF Media Relations Officer

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