In Punjab, India, a young teenager recently committed suicide by poisoning herself.
The story of the teenager grabbed the world's attention initially when she was gang raped and beaten and left to die. As a victim, she went to make a complaint to the local authority and instead she was stonewalled. In addition, she was pressured to drop the case and "either accept a cash settlement or marry one of her attackers."
According to the area police, the young victim was "running from pillar to post to get her case registered but officers failed to open a formal inquiry." Her story mirrors the many injustices I often hear around the world via our multicultural communities in Toronto.
If her case seems to be an exception in the world, it unfortunately is not. In fact, I would like to highlight some of the little known stories of violence against women in the world that has touched me to the core.
Aberash Hailay . In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Hailay was an Ethiopian Airlines hostess, young and full of life. One night, her ex-husband made an abrupt visit and started to complain about a potential lover in her life. In a jealous rage, he stabbed both her eyes with a knife and stabbed her several times. She became blind in both eyes and partially paralyzed.
In the Middle East, an Ethiopian maid was recently tortured to death for being "lazy" by her employer. According to witnesses, the "maid suffered daily beatings and died from infected burns, after having boiling water poured over her."
According to the employer's daughter, "the maid was beaten daily and that her mother had rubbed pepper into the maid's eyes." These are some of the international issues that are profoundly touching in our world.
Seventeen years ago, a 12-year-old Canadian was inspired to help change the reality of the world after reading about a murdered child labour activist in Pakistan. For Craig Kielburger, founder of Free the Children, Igbal Masih's story touched him mostly because the young activist was denied his basic rights and was "forced into bonded labor in a carpet factory at the age of four, became an international figurehead for the fight against child labor by 12 years of age, and was brutally murdered in 1995."
In pursuit of a more perfect world, Ottawa's most beloved mayor, the late Marion Dewar, once said, "to end global poverty and injustice, we need to recognize and nurture women's leadership." The reality is, we are not even close to that ambitious admirable objective.
Then again, I hope the stories of these victims and many others will help inspire the Craig Kielburger in all of us.