Former President Jimmy Carter in his recent book “A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power” names areas in life where women are discriminated against and not given their full human rights. In religion he believes that women should be completely equal in their ability to serve God or to serve human beings. He asked Pope Francis to work on ending three global threats to women: female infanticide, sexual slavery and genital mutilation. Of these, sexual slavery is the most problematic in the U.S. In 2013 around 800,000 people where sold into slavery across international borders. 80% of those were girls sold into sexual slavery. The enormous influence of the church could be used to condemn these assaults on girls and women.
There is institutional violence against women in war, imprisonment and the death penalty. Women and children are often the victims in war, even when carried out with drone strikes and high altitude bombing but also in the devastation caused by armed combat in cities and villages. They are often the victims of bombings carried out in markets, shopping malls, churches and mosques. They are the ones who have to flee to find shelter in refugee camps and attempt to cross borders into safe territory. We have read about the many accidents, with loss of life, of people crossing the Mediterranean to Europe. Pope Francis has called on the European Community to do more to receive people fleeing war and poverty.
He mentions the 26,000 cases of sexual assaults against women in the military in 2012 with only punishment levied against 300 assaulters. He also says that sexual abuse and assaults are “rampant” in American Universities. The number of incarcerated black women has increased by 800% since he left the White House in 1981. ( to be continued)