Posted by: Leah | December 10, 2011

My sisters, my friends, my daughters – find your voice

Today is a very interesting day. It started with me listening to updates about the case of Shafia family in Kingston, Ontario where a father and his second wife are in court for honour killing of  their three daughetrs and his first wife; it continued with a sermon in my synagogue about Dinah and rape victims, and it ended with the news about the Peace Nobel Prize and three remarkable ladies accepting it.

Where shall I start? I think this is a big day for all of us, who care about women and wish women are treated equally with men. This year three ladies, a Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, women’s rights campaigner from Liberia Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman, a female icon of protests in Yemen shared the prize. “My sisters, my friends, my daughters – find your voice” – these are the words of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. This resonated with the story of Dinah that we read in today’s weekly Torah portion in synagogues this past Shabbat.

Dinah’s story – Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, goes out, gets raped, and her father first decides to keep quiet. Then his sons, Dina’s brothers come home, find out about rape – and are enraged – this is no way to treat our family. A guy who raped Dinah suggests that he marries her, and the brothers agree on the condition the whole town is circumcised. The men of the town agree, and on day number three when they are in pain, Dina’s brothers go and kill all men in the town. Jacob is enraged now, now because his sons brought troubles for him. We never hear from Dinah – how she felt, what she wanted and what she thought about this story. Dinah had no voice.

So our three remarkable ladies who got the prize: not only they found the voice for themselves, but they were able to give it to thousands of women around them speaking and acting the way that the world understands a woman is not a commodity that can bring disgrace on  family, not a cooking and child-bearing machine either. Women rights are human rights. This is what Leymah Gbowee said today accepting the Nobel Prize: “There is no time to rest until our world achieves wholeness and balance, where all men and women are considered equal and free.”

This past Friday fifty imams delivered sermons in mosques against honour killings. Canadians seems to be outraged by the case of honour killing being heard now in Kingston, Ontario. There are voices here and there about Muslims, honour killings and barbaric traditions. So, are you trying to tell me that in caucasian families women don’t get killed because they brought shame on families? Really? Think again. The only difference is in that case mirders are called homicides and if there is such a case in a Muslim family it is an honour killing. Women rights are human rights, and it does not matter what family violates it. Murders, rapes, abuse, beatings happen everywhere unfortunately as well as emotional abuse and blackmailing – we know better how you want to live you life.

I would like to ask you today – think about one area of human rights that is close to your heart, and fight for it. It is quite inspiring to see these three ladies accepting the prize, and if we work hard there won’t be more Dinahs or Shafia families around, and you might be the next in line for the Nobel Prize, and even if not giving voice to even one person makes all the difference.

Shavua Tov.

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