Women and Depression: A Natural Response to Global Maltreatment
The other day a young woman wrote to us on the Sexual Health site about her discovery that she had been "circumcised" as an infant. By this we mean that her female genitalia was surgically cut so that the clitoris is altered or removed. Nobody had told her that this had been done. So for years she wondered why she experienced pain. She had asked her mother about this and was told that this was a way to control her sexual desire when she would become a woman and to make her more honorable. But she does not uderstand this reasoning and is depressed and searching for answers.
To many, including the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, considers this act of female genital mutilation to be a violent act perpetuated against women. It is estimated that up to 140 million girls and women worldwide have received what is called female genital cutting. This practice is most performed in Africia and the Middle East but is not unknown in other parts of the world.
Who would not feel depressed after the discovery of such an act of barbarism?
In India baby girls are often undesired due to the lack of opportunities for women. In addition there is still cultural pressure for the parent's of a girl to come up with a dowry, in which the bride's parents pay cash and goods to the groom's family. In response many parents opt to abort female babies after they know the sex. But many female babies are born full term and are killed by their parents. The infant's nostrils are filled with either sand or tobacco juice until they die.
ABC News reported in 2006 that ten million girls have been killed by their parents in India in the past 20 years.
It seems unfathomable.
In the United States girls and teens are being sold into sexual slavery. Some are drugged, beaten, brutally and repeatedly raped, sold into prostitution, or murdered.
The National Organization for Women (NOW) estimates that three women in the U.S. are murdered each day by an intimate partner.
According the same source,an estimated 600 women are raped or sexually assaulted in this country every day.
In addition to violence women are also subject to economic disparity. We have "come a long way baby" but not as far as we think.
The Washington Post reports that In 2007, American women who were full-time wage and salary workers earned 80 percent of their male counterpart's salary. Time magazine estimates that: "U.S. women still earned only 77 cents on the male dollar in 2008."
And let's not forget American politics. In a post I wrote for our Sexual Health site I discussed the verbal attack on Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University Law student who spoke before Congress to ask that birth control be covered by her employer's health care plan. Talk show host and political pundit, Rush Limbaugh called this young woman a slut and a prostitute on air and even urged her to come up with a sex tape in return for payment for contraception.
Are you depressed yet?