In the ongoing photo series 'Silent Voices', I symbolically draw attention to gender inequality.
Gender inequality disconnects so many women around the world from their possibilities in life. They are disconnected from the chance to contribute to society. Disconnected from the chance to explore their talents. Disconnected from the chance to explore their sexuality. Disconnected from the freedom to fully explore life’s path.
And although nowadays feminism is often trivialized, gender inequality is still one of the most systemic inequalities in the world. That fact is true for every culture, race or religion.
Whether it is the gender pay gap, inequality in job performance reviews, domestic violence, honor killings, genital mutilation or the stoning of rape victims, there is still a lot of work to be done. Everywhere.
In some places inequality is horribly visible.
In Pakistan, a new law is in the making that legally allows a husband to physically abuse his wife by hitting her. Recently, ISIS burnt 19 girls to death for refusing to have sex with the fighters. With prevalence rates as high as 91% in Egypt, 98% in Somalia and 96% in Guinea, female genital mutilation affects up to 140 million women and girls, and is recognized as a violation of human rights. The recent honor killing of Quandeel Baloch, a Pakistani social media celebrity who challenged the social position of women in her country, only scratches the surface with over 500 honor killings per year in Pakistan alone.
And although in many countries it seems that we have reached equality, recent events have shown that that might just very well be a thin layer of window dressing. The recent rise in sexual assaults has given birth to the worrying term rape-culture and has uncovered a deep underbelly of disrespect to women’s bodies.
The lenient sentencing of a Stanford rapist went viral. His father commented '6 months is already a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action' and the judge felt that 'a long sentence would influence his bright future'. Never mind that the girl’s life was changed forever by his crime.
In Brazil, a 16 year-old girl was drugged and while unconscious was raped by 31 men, who posted videos online of the rape and of her genitalia. Their defense “She had done drugs before and had sex before, so what’s the problem”
In the meantime, girls everywhere are told to behave modestly as to avoid trouble. To walk the line. The subliminal message being that molestation and rape is their responsibility. It is not.
All these facts and sadly many more, show us that the struggle for gender equality is far from over.
Or in the words of former US president Jimmy Carter:
"There is a pervasive denial of equal rights to women, more than half of all human beings, and this discrimination results in tangible harm to all of us. It is the worst and most unaddressed human rights violation on Earth.”
There are still a lot of silent voices. My wish is that they will all be heard.