In December of last year, Game of Throne’s Maisie Williams spoke out about Emma Watson and first-world feminism, “I know things aren’t perfect for women in the UK and America but there are women in the rest of the world who have it far worse“.
In recent years, first-world feminism seems to have become a trend among young girls. First-world feminism generally deals with issues faced by Western cisgender white women in North America and Western Europe. It mainly deals with issues such as cat-calling, unequal pay and rape culture. While these issues should be dealt with, there are much more serious and dangerous feminist issues going on elsewhere in the world.
1. The Murders of Trans Women of Colour
The treatment of Trans women of colour is an issue that is present in North America especially yet it is rarely addressed by first-world feminists. While there seems to have been a good amount of progress in the acceptance of trangender people in the last few years, the same unfortunately can’t be said when it comes to transgender women of colour.
Within the first 60 days of this year, eight trans women of colour were murdered with little said in the media about it. Unfortunately, this isn’t surprising as trans women have a 1 in 12 chance of being murdered while trans women of colour have a 1 in 8 chance of being murdered, according to TSER. Despite these shocking statistics, little to nothing is being said or done about this tragedy. Executive director of the Trans Women of Colour Collective, Lourdes Ashley Hunter, spoke earlier this year about this, “Just last year, 12 trans women of colour were murdered with no response from the black community. When folks scream, “Black Lives Matter”, they’re not talking about black trans women. Most of the time, they’re not even talking about [cis] black women“.
2. Honour Killings
Honour killings seem like an ancient tradition that could never even be considered acceptable in modern society and if I didn’t know any better I would think that that was true. Unfortunately, honour killings are more common in today’s world than you could imagine.
Honour violence is defined as “violence against an individual who has ‘dishonored’ their family“. This individual is more often than not a female relative. The people who commit these honour killings believe that the only way to restore honour to the family is to get rid or punish the source of dishonour so that they are not looked down upon by their community. Some of the reasons for these killings are having sex outside of marriage, adultery, refusing an arranged marriage, dressing in ways that they believe are inappropriate or even being the victim of rape.
These honour killings mainly occur in Middle-Eastern countries such as Iran and Iraq and in South Asian countries such as Pakistan and India. However, they have also happened in the UK, USA, Sweden, Germany, Italy and France.
In many cases, the killer or killers get away with their crime with little to penalty for their actions due to the fact that the victim is thought to have brought dishonour to the family. Many countries where these killings take place have brought in laws to combat these killings yet they are rarely enforced. In some countries like Turkey, the families will sometimes force the woman to commit suicide in order to be technically innocent of murder.
According to the HBVA Network, there is 5,000 honor killings internationally per year in which 1,000 occur in India, 1,000 occur in Pakistan and 12 occur in the UK. However, according to the BBC, women’s advocacy groups “suspect that more than 20,000 women are killed worldwide each year“.
3. Female Genital Mutilation
The World Health Organisation describes female genital mutilation is the, “partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons“. FGM is an internationally recognised violation of human rights that is mainly performed on babies and children before puberty.
The procedure has absolutely no health benefits and it poses many health risks including severe bleeding, cysts, infections, infertility, complications in childbirth and death. Despite the lack of health benefits, 18% of all FGM’s are performed by healthcare providers. There is no form of anaesthetic used and it is often performed using dirty razors.
According to UN estimates, “at least 125 million women and girls have been mutilated in Africa and the Middle East since 1989“. The reason that FGM is so common is because many people believe that it will reduce the woman’s libido and prevent her from having sex outside of marriage when in reality it is really just a form of unnecessary torture.
Gendercide is the “gender-selective mass-killing” of young girls. Gendercide is becoming a problem in several different countries but the issue mainly lies in India and China. The UN estimates that there are 200 million girls missing in the world today due to gendercide. This means that, “India and China eliminate more girls than the number of girls born in America every year“. The victims of gerndercide are either killed, aborted or abandoned due to their gender.
There are many reasons why parents in India would prefer having a boy over a girl. One of the main reasons is that when a woman gets married, her parents must pay a dowry to her husband’s family which can add up to several years of income for the family. This is the reason for many Indian proverbs such as “A daughter is a burden on her father’s head“. Some parents’ inability to pay a dowry has also led to many ‘dowry deaths‘ in which the husband kills his wife for not getting a larger dowry.
In China, there is a Birth Control Policy. This means that couples are only allowed to have one child. However, if that child is a girl then they can try again for a boy. If they have any more children than this, the mother will be forced to have an abortion no matter how far into her pregnancy she is. Due to this One-Child Policy, there are 35,000 abortions performed in China each day and there are 1 million infants abandoned each year, most of which are healthy girls.
Due to gendercide, there are now 37 million more men than women in China which has led to an increase in rape, prostitution and kidnapping of young girls. There is also now 70,000 Chinese children trafficked each year. This can only get worse as it is expected by 2020, 30 million men will be unable to find wives.
Of course there are many more important feminist issues going on worldwide. These are only four of them. While I don’t want to say that first-world feminist issues aren’t important, because most of them are, there are still many more important feminist issues that should be put first.