THE WAR ON WOMEN
Sue Lloyd Roberts was working on this book when she died in 2015. Her astonishing career in journalism had taken her to some of the harshest places in the world. In many of these places, she was appalled at the treatment of women and she become an advocate and activist for change in several nations, including her own home country, Britain.
Issues tackled in this book include female genital mutilation, religious abuse in Ireland, discrimination against women in Saudi Arabia, sex-trafficking in various nations, rape and sexual abuse at the hands of (would you believe?) UN peacekeeper soldiers, forced marriage and honour killings in Muslim cultures and a general mistreatment of women in India. Britain’s record of turning a blind eye to FGM and honour killings earns it a place of shame, unlike France where such things are much more likely to lead to conviction and corresponding jail time.
Sue’s daughter, Sarah, has written the introduction and BBC Chief International Correspondent, Lyse Doucet, has written a kind of journalistic eulogy to complete the book.
Unfortunately, Sarah has also written a chapter entitled “Sex Inequality in the UK” in which she itemises, sector by sector, the pay gap between males and females. Obviously there is validity in calling for “the same wages for the same job” but Sarah also talks about “the motherhood trap” whereby women take time out from their careers to have children only to find males leapfrogging them on the corporate ladder. And she laments that women are more highly represented in part-time employment. She writes “As long as society continues to believe that mothers are the best carers for their children, we are denying women the same opportunities as men.” (p267) This tendency to downplay motherhood in favour of career recognition must be considered a serious blindspot of the feminist movement and this chapter definitely spoils what is otherwise a magnificently confronting expose of the shocking abuse that women suffer in so many parts of the world.
Apart from the relative trivialities of chapter 12, this is an outstanding book that should spark ongoing outrage at the brutal war on women that it still happening in too many places.