“All men are created equal!” A positive slogan used in numerous campaigns, legal documents and idealistic movements: men and women living in harmony and wealth. However, as George Orwell said in "Animal Farm", "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
In other words, we live in a world where human rights are constantly being violated. Especially when it comes to women’s rights. Looking back in time, many things have improved, no doubt. In today’s world, women can vote, in the majority of places, they are allowed to drive, and contrary to many religious beliefs, women are capable of becoming political leaders and scientists.
However, things are not as equal as they are on paper. Low salary and high social pressure are only a couple of the unfair and sexist factors women need to deal with. On top of that, there’s mansplaining, domestic abuse and modern slavery. Even in the developed countries!
The situation in many developing parts of the world is even worse. Stoning, genital mutilation and guardianship laws - the list of terrifying practices goes on and on.
So let’s have a look at 15 girls that didn’t have a say in life, but whose tragedies attracted the public attention. With which they actually helped many women have a voice in the world!
15 Sahar Gul: Lost Childhood
The sad story of Sahar Gul is another terrifying case that reveals the scary truth about the severe levels of inequality in Afghanistan.
Sahar Gul, just like Bibi Aisha, was only 12, when she became a child bride. It’s not only that. She was brutally assaulted and tortured by her new family. She was starved, beaten and raped, her nails were pulled out, and she was forced into prostitution.
Her voice was left unheard. When she managed to escape, she was sent back by police officers. In the end, she was found almost dead but rescued just in time.
The terrifying story of Sahar also triggered rage among activists. Abdullah Fahim, at the Ministry of Public Health, says, "We have several cases like this, especially in remote parts of the country where there is not a strong attitude to women's rights."
14 Zeinab Lokran: Why Punish The Victim?
Zeinab Sekaanvand Lokran is another girl that had no say whatsoever. Zeinab was only 15 when she married the person she loved. Soon after the wedding, though, he started abusing her and refused a divorce. A couple of years later, her husband was killed. Zeinab ‘confessed’ that she killed him, but in fact, the crime was committed by her brother-in-law.
She had no say: she was denied a lawyer and was repeatedly tortured by Iranian officers. She got pregnant but gave birth to a stillborn baby due to the extreme levels of stress.
Zeinab was sent back to prison without any postnatal support and now, she is facing execution for a crime committed by someone else. Amnesty International is working on her case. In fact, data reveals that there are more than 74 executions of juvenile offenders between 2005 and 2016.
13 Aisha Duhulow: No Mercy
It’s devastating but it’s a fact: killing rape victims is a common practice in many parts of the world. The story of Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow reveals the horror of these unfair practices that still exist around the world. Aisha was only 13 when she was stoned to death in the southern port of Kismayu, Somalia.
Hoping to find justice, Aisha reported that she had been raped by three men. However, instead of justice, she was accused of adultery and sentenced to death.
The death of Aisha raised many questions regarding women’s rights in Somalia and the Islamic law. Why is there no mercy for victims?
12 Gina DeJesus: Stolen Smile
In a world where kids are sentenced to death, it’s not surprising that tremendous pain exists. Gina DeJesus is another kid that had no control over her life. She was only 14 when she was kidnapped by Ariel Castro, a former school bus driver and a father of one of Gina’s friends. For a decade, Gina was kept chained in Castro’s basement in Cleveland, and constantly raped and abused. Two other women were also held captive, Michelle Knight and Amanda Berry.
In 2013, after many years of pain, the three women were rescued after neighbors responded to Amanda’s screams. This case has raised a lot of questions about the recovery of young victims.
This makes one think: Do we care about what might be happening next door?
11 Ten-Tear-Old Victim Denied An Abortion
Sometimes not only society is oblivious but the government. A 10-year-old Indian girl has been denied the right to have an abortion. After being raped repeatedly by her uncle, the girl got pregnant, but her plea to terminate the pregnancy has been rejected.
Now, the girl is eight months pregnant and will give birth to the baby. This case raises many questions. Why, in a country where sexual assaults on minors happen every single day, do victims have no say? According to data, there were around 20,000 cases of rape and assault reported only in 2015. So is there proper medical care provided and is abortion permissible?
10 Acid Thrown Over A Pregnant Woman
Sometimes governments preach against abortion but in fact, it’s the government that can’t protect the citizens. Recently, the rise of acid attacks in London has raised many questions: Why are such substances so easily accessible? How does the government deal with young offenders? What causes racist hate in Western Europe?
The scary truth is that even a pregnant woman was targeted - the attacker sprayed her bump causing harm not only to the mother but the baby. This woman had no say in all the immigration paranoia and unstable political situation in the UK, but at least, let’s hope that her tragedy will force the government to act.
9 Michele Messer: Haunting Ex
Many women are victims not only of domestic violence or random attacks but of their ex-partners. Some men do not accept the fact that they are not wanted anymore and due to various psychological complexes, decide to show their ex-partners who’s stronger… physically.
Michele Messer had her nose bitten off after her ex-partner attacked her. "He... went absolutely ballistic. He started punching me everywhere," Michele recalls.
She didn’t have any control over the situation but after her tragedy was revealed, her story proved the importance of reconstruction surgeries and the positive psychological effect they have on victims.
As expert Iain Hutchison says, saving faces is crucial and it’s not a vanity but a major factor in people’s communication and well-being.
8 Kim Phuc: The ‘Napalm’ Girl
Kim Phuc is another girl who had no control over her life but who changed history. She is a symbol of the terrifying Vietnam War. Kim is known as the ‘napalm’ girl. In 1972, Kim was photographed in an iconic shot, running to the camera and screaming “Too hot!” as napalm was stuck to her skin, leaving scars and pain.
Now, Kim also believes in surgery, hoping that experts in Canada will help her soothe her skin and relieve the long-lasting pain.
The Pulitzer Prize-Winning photo of little Kim has changed history and showed the world the terrible consequences of war.
7 Gulnisa: Forced Marriage
Many little girls dream of getting married, in white and surrounded by aromatic flowers. However, for many girls in Kyrgyzstan marriage is a traumatic experience as they are often kidnapped and forced to marry a person they don’t know. Many girls are raped and tortured until they give up and start obeying their men. Some die during the attack, some commit suicide.
Gulnisa is one of the many girls who have been kidnapped and accepted her misery without having a chance to voice her opinion. She admits that she could never learn to love her husband.
It’s a social problem that nobody talks about. As the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women reported, bride kidnapping "appears to be socially legitimized and surrounded by a culture of silence and impunity, and that cases of bride kidnapping remain under-reported, as they are considered a private issue that should remain within the family."
It’s time for society to speak out.
6 Theresa: Gender-Based Violence
South Sudan is a young country where poverty, wars and chaos have led to brutal gender-based violence. Theresa, not her real name, was raped by five men who ignored her cries and screams. She is one of the many victims who not only can’t escape aggression but who can’t find proper help.
Many women are being raped only meters away from UN bases and still, nobody takes any action. As Theresa says, "The security guards and the peacekeepers at the gate saw me being captured," she recalled. "But they did nothing."
On top of that, girls fear reporting rape as they might be ostracized by their family and community. If reported, treatment not always targets potential dangers, such as contracting HIV.
5 Yeonmi Park: A Brainwashed Run-A-Way
Yeonmi Park is another girl who had no control over her life. She was born in 1993 in North Korea in times of famine and suppression. Yeonmi witnessed a lot of pain: starvation, rape, and political repression.
However, she managed to escape and became a celebrity defector. Although some of her stories are unbelievable, they shed some light on a country where not only girls but boys are being oppressed and brainwashed. Many people who have tried to escape face death, and some who have managed to leave the country face another danger – the risk of being trafficked to China. All these stories make us think: What does it take to thrive for freedom?
4 Zahra: Fed Up With Men Saying ‘No’
Women should be able to make free choices. However, the male guardianship system is a practice that many women must obey. One of the countries that don’t let women decide for themselves is Saudi Arabia. The guardianship system gives men too much power and women can’t get the medical care they need, pursue the career they want, or simply travel the world. The worst thing is that women are often abused by their guardians and if they try to escape, they can be sent to prison.
Zahra is one of the many girls who don’t have a say but who are fed up with men saying 'No'. 'No' to education, 'No' to traveling, 'No' to career. When she sought legal help, Zahra was told, "As long as he is not beating you, he can do whatever he wants."
Activists are trying to force the government to abolish this system. Will that happen?
3 Katya: Trafficked Through Pain
Laws should to be changed everywhere. Human trafficking is another terrible threat for many women. Human trafficking is a terrible form of human slavery, and women who have been forced to prostitute themselves endure psychical and psychological torture.
Katya’s story is one of the many tragedies that reveal the real nightmare victims live in. Katya has been tortured, raped and beaten up, her family was threatened and she was even forced to dig her own grave. She was forced to prostitute herself in various countries, and as a result, she got pregnant.
After British immigration officials accessed her case, they sent her back to Moldova where she was re-trafficked. As Katya says, it’s time victims to be heard: "I think the police should work better to stop this. Why don't you shut down saunas and brothels? Then there would be no prostitutes, no pimps."
2 Bibi Aisha: Face Your Destiny
Since the Russian and American invasions of Afghanistan, the state became notorious for the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda, which made the life for many girls there hard. Women became dependent on their men and weren’t allowed to go to school.
The story of Bibi Aisha represents the scary truth behind life in Afghanistan. Bibi Aisha had no say when she was given to her husband when she was only 12, in fact, given as payment. Her marriage was full of abuse and torture, and having suffered six years of pain, in 2009, she managed to escape.
However, the Taliban found her and cut her ears and nose for punishment, leaving her alone choking on her blood. The picture of Bibi appeared on the Time cover and raised awareness of the ugly truth behind women’s rights in Afghanistan.
Bibi was given a prosthetic nose in California, but she still “goes crazy, screaming and crying about what the Taliban did to her and what they do to women”, Hyneman of Women for Afghan Women says.
1 Malala: Shot For Going To School
Women deserve not only a safe environment but education. Many girls around the world have no access to education, due to religious beliefs or poverty.
Malala Yousafzai was only a young girl from Pakistan who had no say. However, after she was shot for going to school by Taliban gunmen, she became the youngest Nobel Prize laureate who changed the world. Malala is an activist who speaks up for the right of girls to be educated. The brave story of Malala who defended her right to study has touched many hearts.
Unfortunately, many girls have no access to education and many women are oppressed by their families.
However, each story shows that although women had no say, their courage has changed the world. By following such examples, we can raise happy kids: independent girls and respectful boys. Because equality is a must!
Sources: amnesty.org.uk, bbc.com, edition.cnn.com, guardian.com, huffingtonpost.com