[LETTERS to the editor]Remember female victims of violence“UN Day marked with monument to UN forces,” read the headline on Oct. 25. A black granite monument containing the names of 40,895 soldiers from 17 countries who died or went missing during the Korean War was erected in Busan. The monument cost 1.74 billion won.
Exactly one month from that date, on Nov. 25, the UN will celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. No monument will be erected. No celebration is slated. No funding is pledged. In fact, many will go about their day unaware of the significance of this date.
Human rights activists are paying attention, however, and since the 1990s we have also gained the attention of the UN. The UN now calls violence against women the most pervasive human rights abuse on the planet. And with reason: Honor killings, stoning, domestic violence, rape, prostitution, pornography, sexual trafficking, female genital mutilation, sex-selective abortions, female infanticide, torture and murder are not only common but remain “accepted” practices in many countries. In many cases, violence is compounded with impunity for the perpetuators.
The UN and many other organizations have lent their credibility to women’s rights. For decades as feminists pleaded for recognition of these brutal forms of violence, we were scorned as male-bashers. But people fighting against child abuse are not adult-haters. Those fighting against poverty are not rich-bashers.
This is not an issue about hate, this is an issue about awareness, cooperation and harmony. It’s about preventing and curtailing a scourge the likes of the Holocaust, because every year 1.5 to 3 million women are lost to gender-based violence.
We are erecting monuments to soldiers whose lives were brutally destroyed in wars. What will we do for those who bring life into this world? What will we do for the 600,000 women annually who lose their life in childbirth? And what will we do for the women who suffer violence or lose their lives in an ongoing war where their only uniform is their gender?
Joan Dawson, editor of ESL books
Is Seoul odd man out on North Korea?
Things are piling up. North Korean employees of museums are smuggling out “severely damaged” items and selling them, China is closing border posts which will restrict the amount of goods entering North Korea, Japan has completely cut off North Korea economically, the United Nations is enforcing sanctions and the United States if putting the financial squeeze on North Korea.
And what is the government in Seoul doing? Keeping open tourism and economic projects that earn North Korea millions of dollars per year. Money that likely funds North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and keeps a corrupt elite in comfort while millions suffer.
Doesn’t something seem wrong here? With a possible harsh winter coming, South Korea seems willing to let 20 million people be cold and hungry. For what? Because it is believed this is good for stability? With government employees in North Korea getting reduced salaries and selling state property, one senses a regime that could be toppled with decisive action by Seoul.
Ben Griffin, English teacher, Nowon-gu, Seoul