Through her voice there sings reason, a wisdom that echoes the mountains thru the paltoes across the great plains an energy lifting it over the great Rocky Mountians and back again to reach this small hollor catching the sound of equality, a resounding song sung world wide.
In some parts of the world, they can't own property. In many parts of the world, they are property.
With a sex ratio of 933 women per thousand men, the social landscape of the future portends, as it has for the Chinese, an increase in sex slavery, prostitution, AIDS, gang warfare, violence against women and a general decline in the status of women as well as a breakdown of family ties among men. In one north Indian agrarian state, Haryana, the sex ratio is now 640 women per 1,000 men in many areas. Polygamy is on the rise. Teenage suicide among young girls is on the increase. (One World South Asia, 09 September, 2005)
Enter the Swami. Just where you might not expect a swami to be.
Swami, a title of respect for Hindu religious teachers, is not a synonym for feminist. It may, however, judging from this particular swami's relentless witness to social issues, be a synonym for "conscience."
Swami Agnivesh, a Hindu monk, president of the Arya Samaj, a Hindu reform movement and chair of the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, knows as far too few women do, perhaps, that feminism is anything but unessential, uncalled-for or achieved. On the contrary.
This month Agnivesh himself is launching "The March of a Million" in India around the feast of Diwali, the festival meant to celebrate the birth of a girl child. His purpose, he says, is to "raise consciousness and create an environment against female feticide." Religion, he explains, has discriminated against women and denied them their rightful status in society. Religion must, therefore, do something to right it. "We must revive the respect for women," he says, which the celebration of Diwali is meant to mark.
The "March of A Million," a 15-day trek across India from November 1-15, will be a march against infanticide, yes, but against all forms of discrimination against women in India.
"Come and join me," he said to us at the meeting of the International Committee of the Peace Council. "Come and join me," he says to every one in is open letter to the public (See www.swamiagnivesh.com.) "Be proud to be Human," he goes on. "Do what you can for Peace and Justice. Speak up for the right to life for the unborn girl child in India and elsewhere ... before the knife falls on her."
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