01 February 2006

Girls' Rights

On my drive home from work today, I decided that, rather than listen to music, I would listen to NPR. Many times, the reporters rehash things I had heard earlier in the day, maybe with a new item or two. (drive-time programming...they want to hit the highlights while people are listening, and perhaps appeal for some dough) Today, there was a discussion of girls in Zanzibar, and their rights if they should get pregnant while in high school.

Apparently, until now, if a young woman was to get pregnant while still in school, she was expelled from school and not allowed to return, even once the baby is born. Recently, the rules changed, and she is allowed to return two years after the baby is born. And, here is the kicker, only if she has shown herself to be morally above getting pregnant again (unless she gets married, which is a whole different story). The man presenting this acted as though this were a huge thing, and that the girls should be so lucky that this type of legislation had passed.

It struck me that no mention of the man/boy who was also involved in creating the pregnancy
I listened hard for this one, and never heard a peep. All responsibility is put on the girl. Last I checked, it took two people to create a pregnancy; if something has changed I do hope someone will clue me in.

I don't know much about Zanzibar, but if this is one step in the direction of better civil rights, then I commend them on it.

What made me particularly sad while listening to this clip wasn't that it took so long for Zanzibar to move in this direction, but that here in the States things aren't so much different. Teenage girls get pregnant, and still the real responsibilities fall to them. Many times they are the "sluts," the girls of loose morals, "easy." They gave it up, couldn't they have said no? They are sent to continuation schools or are urged to drop out, stay home until they are no longer pregnant.

And amid all this, often time the boy involved gets off (no pun intended) with a mere slap on his wrist, or perhaps a court order to pay child support. There is still a "boys will be boys" way of thinking that lets them out of their responsibilities as a sexually active person. They aren't urged to leave school, they aren't sent to continuation schools, and they aren't forced to defend their morals or up bringing.

I am not trying to go off on some feminist rant by any means. I just found it ironic that the whole reason this gentleman of Zanzibar was on NPR was to show how seemingly backwards things are elsewhere, when in fact the same shit is going on right here in our own backyard.

No comments: