Saturday, 17 May 2014

The butterfly effect and trafficking of women....

In chaos theory the butterfly effect is a metaphor that postulates that a small change at one place in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere: the example is that a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world can contribute to a hurricane in another.

The horrifying kidnap of schoolgirls in Nigeria and the inaction of the Nigerian government for so long, now gradually slipping down the news agenda - and this is just one example of the low status of women in many developing world cultures. I saw an interview with Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe– see Time 100 for her speech about the work she does in Uganda taking care of girls who were kidnapped, forced into slavery and to become child soldiers, shunned by family and their villages and now raising their children born through rape.

Women are objectified in our society – and if they don’t measure up to someone’s physical ideal they can be vilified – reference what happened (mostly on line) to Professor Mary Beard. See her lecture The Public Voice of Women at the British Museum – a brilliant piece by a brilliant woman starting with Odysseus and Penelope and their son Telemachus, throughout history and referencing her own experience, and I quote “

For a start it doesn’t much matter what line you take as a woman, if you venture into traditional male territory, the abuse comes anyway. It’s not what you say that prompts it, it’s the fact you’re saying it. And that matches the detail of the threats themselves. They include a fairly predictable menu of rape, bombing, murder and so forth.”

We still don’t have universal equal pay for women in Europe (and other developed countries), there is a lack of representation of women on the boards of most major companies and we have a very poor showing of women in politics – let alone in government. There is a series of trials underway of men who have used positions of authority to abuse women and sexist and misogynistic behavior is still part of our everyday life.  It can be overt, offensive or subtle but pervasive.  We were getting off a tour bus in Amsterdam recently when the guide said, “please remember to take all your possessions, your coat, your cameras your wife” cue laughter..... This is hardly abuse but it jarred – if he had said “husband” instead would I have laughed?  – but he didn’t.

This brings me to the butterfly effect.  Does the effect of naked breasts on page three of The Sun (not breasts feeding a baby, wouldn't that be shocking) contribute to the kidnapping, forced marriage, rape and trafficking of women in Africa? 

No comments:

Post a Comment