International Women’s Day – Why bother?

This week the world celebrates 101 years of International Women’s Day and before the doubting thomas’s amongst you even think why bother? OR tell me ‘We have the vote and we are well on our way to equality if we want it aren’t we?’ I feel a sense of duty to point out some pretty depressing facts that illuminate how much more pioneering we have yet to do. In fact, in some cases we should be campaigning hard and marching to the sound of Emmeline’s band.
Take a deep breath……

• Half of all female murder victims, worldwide are killed by a current or former partner. One in four women in the UK will experience domestic violence at some point in their life with two women murdered every week as a direct result.

• There are now more Lap Dancing clubs (over 300) in the UK than rape crisis centres (only 38). In 2009 the Equality and Human Rights Commission threatened over 100 councils with legal action because they were failing to provide domestic violence support services or rape crisis centres, despite a growth in incidents reported.

• 25% of all daily search engine requests are for pornography. 96% of the people doing the searching are male. Every thirty nine minutes a new pornography video is created in the USA to support this demand. The industry is worth over $97 billion worldwide, more than the combined revenue of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Yahoo!, Ebay, Apple, Netflix and Earthlink.

• Global prostitution is growing fast. During the 90s the number of men paying for sex acts in the UK doubled. In 2008 there were atleast 921 known brothels in London alone.

• Between 600,000 and 800,000 people, 90% of them women and girls are trafficked across national borders every year. Women and girls are trafficked primarily to service the multi billion dollar commercial sex industry and modest estimates put the income generated by this relatively easy crime at $19 billion a year.

• Between 100 -140 million of the world’s female population have undertaken female genital mutilation (FGM), including 6000 women and girls living in the UK.

• Between 1992 and 2002 the number of people (over 90% female) undergoing elective cosmetic surgery in USA increased by 1600%. The UK is following the same trend. The most popular procedure in both countries is breast implants.

The latest addition to the menu is
‘ Designer Vagina’ where women elect to have invasive procedures not dissimilar in nature and risk to that which we are outraged about, FGM. Options include vaginal tightening, liposuction and lifting of lips, clipping of elongated inner lips and ‘repair’ of the hymen. By this we are saying once the hymen is broken ie. When we lose our virginity, we are somehow damaged goods??

• Up to seventy million people (mostly women) globally suffer from an eating disorder. 1.5 million of these are in the UK. These disorders are among the top four causes of premature death, illness and disability amongst women aged between 15-24 years old. 10% of women with anorexia die from it.
Humbling isn’t it? So yes, we do still need to celebrate our successes and keep campaigning for a better world for our daughters. This is one of the reasons why I get involved in leading an event on IWD and this year is no different.

The Manchester charity The Birdhouse Fund will be staging a VDay celebration and fund raiser to support vulnerable women fleeing from abuse. 12 local women (including me) will perform Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues and this is definitely the best gir’ls night out in Manchester this year – shopping, cocktails, entertainment and dancing!

Tickets available from www.birdhousefund.org.uk

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