Putting the cart before the horse.

Bill and Melinda Gates

Yesterday, it was announced that the Gates Foundation is about to pledge an obscene amount of money for a campaign to improve access to contraception for women in the developing world. I applaud their excellent intentions and agree that giving women in these countries better education about and access to contraception is a step in the right direction in dealing with the issue of over population, but I don’t think it should be the first step we take. Yes, there are many couples who are having a lot children in developing countries, but most of them will not use contraception because of their religious belief that a child is a gift from God… besides, these couples are not really even the biggest worry in the over population problem.

I can’t help but wonder what, if anything, is being done about one of the main causes of over population in the developing world… rape.

The above statistics are only for cases of rape that were reported and are worldwide. There are countless more that go unreported every day.

The ‘developing world’ is defined as the nations of the world which are less economically and technologically advanced. It’s the politically correct way of describing what used to be called a Third World Country. The map below illustrates the countries that are currently considered to be part of the developing world in yellow.

As you can clearly see, the developing world consists of over half the land on the planet. In many of these countries marital rape is still legal. In many of these countries rape as a weapon of war is a common occurrence. In some of these countries women who are raped are stoned to death for committing adultery. There are many children borne from rape in the developing world. How many of these rapes do you think would not have happened if each of the rapists were forced to pay child support for the children they sired? Do you think there would be  fewer rapes occurring in these countries if each of these men were faced with consequences to their actions, like ostracism, jail time or even chemical castration? I do understand that religion often plays a large role in the way women in developing countries are treated, but for once, I am going to cut religious beliefs a bit of a break. (It should be noted that Gates is receiving criticism from the Catholic church for this campaign because they see contraception and abortion as part of the same issue).

I think it is naive to make women entirely responsible for birth control in countries where rape is so prevalent. If they have no control over, or even consent to, the sexual act, then how is birth control really going to help the situation? A rapist isn’t going to wait until you insert your diaphragm, or sit still while you put a condom on  his willy. In some cases, a woman who is known to be using contraceptives may be even more of a target for rape and even murder  (honour killings).

None of these methods will stop a rapist in his tracks.

If I were lucky enough put in charge of doling out obscene amounts of money to causes that would help women in developing countries, I would first offer a huge sum to any of these countries that would protect women by making rape a prosecutable and felonious offense with real consequences. (I can’t imagine any organized religion, even the Catholic Church, publicly speaking out as pro rape.) Only then, would I move to step two and offer education about and access to contraception. Why are we putting the cart before the horse? Or, in this case, filling the cart with contraceptives and ignoring the horse entirely.

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