On Saturday, a coalition of actresses, pop stars, and Michael Moore congregated in cities throughout the country to protest the peaceful transfer of power between Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, a centuries-old American tradition.
The speeches – from a cast of characters with as diverse backgrounds as Ashley Judd, Scarlett Johansson, and Madonna – warned that America was on the precipice of a “new age of tyranny” and only “revolution” could save it. The “pussyhats,” armed with “derogatory” language as a vehicle of “empowerment,” warned the American electorate that the age in which the American left respected the nation’s republican electoral infrastructure had ended.
The content of the speeches at such rallies appeared to deviate from their nominal purpose. Organizers allegedly called the march to defend the human rights of oppressed women. It should have been a unique opportunity to raise human rights abuses that often get sidelined from the international conversation because they affect women: female genital mutilation, refugee and internally displaced persons (IDP) rape, and sexual slavery, for starters.
The top headliners at the flagship rally in Washington, DC, appeared significantly more concerned about Donald Trump, the first president to support same-sex marriage legalization since his first day in office and a Republican who has told his conservative audiences that Planned Parenthood “does wonderful things.”
Breitbart News would be remiss not to use the occasion to highlight the women Gloria Steinem and the cast of Hamilton left behind. Below, five harrowing stories of abuse that should be at the forefront of all feminists’ struggle against oppression.
Soler is the head of the Ladies in White anti-communist movement in Cuba. On almost every Sunday since the “Black Spring” of 2003, Soler and her compatriots – the wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers of Cuban political prisoners – have been arrested for carrying images of their wrongfully imprisoned loved ones to church and attempting to sit in on Catholic Mass in Havana. They have been beaten, dragged by their ankles, pulled by their hair, jeered, tarred, and forcibly abandoned hours away from their homes with no way of getting back on a regular basis under the Raúl Castro regime. They seek the freedom of prisoners of conscience and a restoration of respect for basic human rights in Cuba, and openly rejected communism.
Soler has vowed the Ladies in White will continue their weekly Mass attendance and silent marches holding the images of political prisoners throughout 2017 despite resistance and the emboldening of the Castro regime under President Obama, who she has sternly criticized in public.
Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian mother who has spent the past seven years on death row after two Muslim coworkers accused her of insulting Muhammad, a crime in Pakistan punishable by death. Bibi sparked the ire of her coworkers, according to case documents, by drinking out of a vessel the accusers alleged was reserved for Muslims only. Upon being confronted, her coworkers allege Bibi asked them, “What did Muhammad do for you?” Bibi denies she said this, but her word in an Islamic Pakistani court weighs less than those of her accusers.
Pakistan delayed her appeal trial in October, and the chief judge presiding abruptly left the case, forcing her to forgo another Christmas with her family. The response from radical Islamic groups in the country, which are largely given free reign to protest perceived insults towards their religion, has been to demand her immediate execution. Members of these groups have taken to threatening and killing anyone who speaks against Bibi’s execution. In a particularly notable case, Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer was shot to death by his own bodyguard for criticizing the nation’s blasphemy laws. Islamic groups around the world celebrate his death to this day.
Bibi is not the only Pakistani to suffer under Pakistan’s sharia-compliant laws, Christian or not: women can be killed for a variety of “crimes” like refusing the advances of a Muslim man, allegedly desecrating a Quran, or simply questioning the authority of an Islamic leader. While some are arrested in these cases, few see justice served, particularly those in which relatives engaged in the “honor” murder to protect their family’s reputation.
Park escaped North Korea at age 13 through China, where guards have often taken advantage of women attempting to flee the repressive communist state by demanding sexual favors. A guard indeed attempted to rape Park, but ultimately relented after her mother offered herself up instead. She was raped twice that night. “The first time, I heard only the sounds. The second time was in front of me. I told myself I did not see that. That’s how I could carry on with life,” Park told Marie Claire.
Park was eventually sold to a “husband” who she agreed to have sex with in exchange for being reunited with her mother, who was also sold. She has now become one of the most prominent anti-North Korean voices in the free world, and in interviews notes that it remains difficult to express her opinion freely due to years of indoctrination.
While Park’s struggle to escape North Korea is complete, her case is not unique. “Defectors face torture, arbitrary detention, rape, forced labor,” George Tugushi, the vice chairperson of the United Nations Committee Against Torture, said in 2015, urging China to cease repatriation of North Koreans.
Kayla Mueller suffered months of brutality as a favorite sex slave of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the founder of the Islamic State. The jihadist group announced that she was killed in an airstrike at age 26 in 2015; the U.S. government confirmed her death but not how she died.
In the months following her death, the details of her captivity were illuminated through interviews with escaped captives who knew her while enslaved by the Islamic State. Mueller was abducted in 2013 in Syria, and subjected to “torture, verbal abuse, prolonged isolation, sensory deprivation, stress positions, forced labor or sexual assault,” including rape at the hands of al-Baghdadi himself, it is believed.
While enslaved, Mueller refused to convert to Islam, defying her jihadist captors when they tried to claim otherwise, and became a protective elder sister figure to Yazidi girls who had been captured and enslaved. She refused to escape with a group of girls, arguing that, as an American, she would bring undue attention to the other girls.
While Mueller died in captivity, the Islamic State continues to control large swathes of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, and claims supporters in China, Russia, much of Europe, and the United States. Yazidi girls, considered “devil worshippers” by the Islamic State, have become prime targets for sexual slavery, and many remain held in captivity in Mosul, the largest city under ISIS control in Iraq. Those who survive are often shunned by their communities due to their time as sex slaves. Aid groups say those who escaped are in dire need of psychological care and many remain suicidal.
Mayar Mohamed Mousa
Mousa died at age 17 in Egypt while undergoing an illegal female genital mutilation (FGM) procedure. “The initial results of an autopsy performed on the girl cite blood clotting as the possible cause of death,” CNN reported in June 2016. Complications during the mutilation – which often includes the complete removal of the clitoris and hacking of parts of the labia – are common, but parents have continued to submit their girls to the procedure to deprive them of sexual desire, keeping them “pure.”
“Many parents will have their daughters cut as a proactive measure so that they will be ‘marriageable’… In some communities, men refuse to marry any woman who has not been cut,” a report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) explained shortly after Mousa’s death. Men who support the procedure sometimes claim it is necessary not because women are prone to promiscuity, but because trusting men to be sexually responsible is a fool’s errand.
“We are a population whose men suffer from sexual weakness, which is evident because Egypt is among the biggest consumers of sexual stimulants that only the weak will consume,” Egyptian legislator Elhamy Agina said in September. “If we stop FGM, we will need strong men and we don’t have men of that sort.”
Egypt banned FGM in 2008 and has enacted new punitive measures following Mousa’s death. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), however, up to 62 percent of girls still suffer the procedure by the age of 18 (this is down from 97 percent in 2000).
“More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia,” according to the WHO.