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Column: The Right to be Free

Live To Inspire
By LAYLA ABBAS
We are incredibly lucky to live in a country where freedom is distributed among men and women. Men and women are allowed freedom to participate in the workforce, obtain an education, and make their own decisions.These simple aspects of life are not so simple to countries in other parts of the world.

One country in particular that faces extreme hardships and places restrictions on women specifically is Afghanistan. Afghanistan stands by the notion that men are the so called “bread winners” and women are to be kept inside, responsible for housework alone. Women are expected to be married as young as the age of 13 years old. With marriage at this young of age, most women stop gaining an education and are left feeling like they have no purpose, no voice, and no use.

Once married, women are basically signing their life away to a man they barely know and for a lifetime. That is, unless they are able to find their way out. But this could lead to dangerous consequences that can result in the death of the woman involved. Expressing your voice is frowned upon in countries like Afghanistan and women are restricted from self expression.

Sadly, this is all too common in places such as Afghanistan, Yemen and Tanzania just to name a few. Families of these young women are forced to send their daughters to get married, because they cannot physically support them. Due to the financial instability, these families look for men to care and support their daughters.

In Yemen, a country located on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, a young girl named Tahani, was forced into marrying Majed. Tahani was six years old and Majed was 25 years old.

At the age of six, it is abnormal to even think about being married. At age six, I was only worried about what game I would play during recess. I can not fathom a life like thousands of girls are accustomed to in multiple developing countries around the world. Not being able to attend school to build up a future for yourself  is devastating.

To be able to freely exercise my freedom of speech is something to be thankful for. It is an absolute privilege to have a right that millions of women around the world are continuously fighting for every day.

Activists such as Malala Yousafzai personally lived through the overbearing rule of the Taliban in Northwest Pakistan. She spoke without fear of the Taliban and confronted their absurd rules of banning girls from attending school. Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for her outspoken behavior.

Malala survived the attack and is now globally recognized for her active fight for women’s rights and education for all. It is in our best nature, to put our voice to good use for the people who have theirs silenced.

“I speak not only for myself, but for those without a voice, those who have fought for their rights, their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated.” -Malala Yousafzai

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