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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Are We Moving Forward? Part 1

By Nikki Allair

Every time I see a new article about women and/or girls, I have to weigh the pros and cons of the said article. I ask myself certain questions: do these people have agency*? What is my situatedness* with this article? What layers of intersectionality* are affecting these people? Is there too much control from – government, patriarchy, family life, etc. fill in the blank? I cannot look over these articles without investigating it with my feminist magnifying glass. This process is both enlightening and exhausting, but well worth every moment.

Nicholas D. Kristof
A few articles written by Nicholas D. Kristof caught my attention for it’s negative and positive aspects. The article was about a rape treatment center in Sierra Leon, Africa, where he met a three-year-old girl. This young child was raped and infected with gonorrhea. Solutions for rape are extremely difficult to come up with and/or implement within a community and especially one that is so intimate. “Ultimately, the only way to end the epidemic of sexual violence is to end the silence and impunity and send people to prison. But that almost never happens,” said Kristof. In places that do not have the resources to help them, ending violence against women is almost impossible, but there are women out there that are trying to change that. (

Kristof came across one young fifteen-year-old girl in particular. Her name is Fulamatu and she wanted to fight against the destructive patriarchal society that had tried to claim her body. A local pastor in her village took advantage of her and other young girls in their community. Fulamatu’s bravery is commendable and shocking within such close-knit village. She filed a police report, got the pastor to come back to the village through some maneuvering, but ultimately he was let go. Fulamatu’s family even forgave him and then tried to kick her out of her village. Even though this is a terrible aspect of this case, without Fulamatu’s statement, other young women from the village would not have come forward. “As more girls show Fulamatu’s courage, we can some day break taboos about sexual violence and inch toward a global recognition that it is more shameful to rape than to be raped.” (

A group of Sierra Leone girls

It is easy for us as Americans to look at other countries and think that situations like the three-year-old child could never happen here. We are sadly mistaken. Women and girls in our nation are constantly having their rights slashed and their lives put in danger. Next week, I will discuss how legislation and the work force reflects our devaluation of women still.

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