It’s no secret that women are treated differently from their male counterparts across the globe. For years, women and girls have suffered enormous consequences as a result of prejudice based solely on one thing over which one has absolutely no control. How they were born. Yes, being sexist is certainly passé in sophisticated countries where women are commonly referred to as objects or designated maternal figures. And yet, despite the significant progress being made in developed countries like the United States, Canada, and the U.K., laws around the world reflect a defiantly discriminatory attitude toward the women who make life possible. Without women, there would be no future generation to combat the pervasive injustice being committed against their own kind.
Perhaps it’s the threat of the feminine mystique or perhaps the reigning power of male dominance is such a withstanding notion that the leaders in authority feel an overpowering need to maintain a level of control through legislation and jurisdiction. Whatever the cause may be, laws exist on several continents restricting a variety of physical, civil, and social liberties of girls and women. As women of a generation aware of these injustices, the civil duty feels justifiably prescient. Prepare yourself to be shocked as you take a look at these 14 Terrifying Laws For Girls Around The World. This will give you major motivation to stay on track if you are one of those tenacious ladies (or gentlemen) attending law school.
14. Child Marriage Is Legal (India)
As if getting married wasn’t frightening enough. Imagine how you would handle the nuptials and the wedding night (gulp!) if you were just at the tender age of thirteen! Before a woman is even considered a legal adult at the age of eighteen, the former age required to marry, “under special circumstances” she can be approved to marry a man who so desires her hand. As of 2017, Bangladesh has the highest rate of child marriage in Asia (one of the highest in the world) with a staggering 52% of girls getting married before the age of eighteen and an alarming 18% married before the age of fifteen. In some cases, these girls are being coerced into situations where they are unable to support themselves financially, forced to rely on the well-meaning intentions of adult males. Limited information about family planning and access to contraception further complicates these dangerous scenarios for young girls.
13. A Crime Only Women Can Commit (Philippines)
Maybe it’s not the worst of the laws on this list, but if Julia Roberts had anything to say about it, we’re pretty sure that she would want her male counterpart to be doing time in county for walking the boulevard just the same as she has to. Fairness in the court of law is one of the expectations of global citizens, especially in America. Unfortunately, many countries deem women second-class citizens unworthy of equal treatment or privileges, as reflected by the laws in place. Although somewhat tolerated in the society, prostitution is still illegal in the Philippines, with law enforcement being rare in regards to workers. Often available at bars, karaoke bars, massage parlors or even brothels, women in the industry certainly do not receive any type of protection under the current laws. With approximately 500,000 prostitutes in the Philippines, that’s a large portion of the population.
12. There Are Only 18 Types Of Hairstyles Allowed (North Korea)
As if North Korea didn’t have enough problems. Notorious dictator Kim Jong-Un of the movie “The Dictator” fame decreed that only 18 types of hairstyles were allowed for women. Explicitly banned, according to unilad.co.uk, is a style that includes “spiked hair,” because it is deemed rebellious. To be exact, so that there is no confusion, the leader has issued forth a collage of images denoting the specific hairstyle for girls and women. Oddly, most of them look very similar, though there are some slight variations in bang cut and length of hair by the neck. In a world where conformity is highly prized, choosing one of the eighteen hairstyles seems like part of the normal protocol in this completely backwards country. Side note: You can tell the difference between married and unmarried women by the style of their hair.
11. Women Are Shackled Upon Puberty (Nigeria)
In order to properly “educate” women in Nigeria, as soon as they come-of-age, women on Okrika Island are forced into imprisonment and ritual humiliation in order to learn about womanhood from their experienced elders. In the process, girls are forced to have their legs shackled in order to restrict movement in their parents’ house, where they are isolated in their room for up to three weeks. They are then ordered to engage in a ritual of dancing in the market square inside booths known as the “house of memories” where pictures of their family adorn the walls. On the final day of the ceremony, the girls, with legs still shackled, are forced to run away from hoards of men who chase them and hit them with sticks, in an effort to beat the water spirits out of them.
10. A Girl Must Be Intimate With Her Husband When She Is Fit To Do So (Singapore)
Forget the whole idea of “my body, my choice.” In Singapore and neighboring India, young girls as old as thirteen are being ushered into marriage at the behest of fearful parents who wish their children to get married as soon as possible, especially young girls. In a country where virginity is prized as a notion of paramount importance, young girls maintain their virginity until a suitor approaches her for her hand in marriage. Following that agreement, a law is in place ordering her to have intercourse with her husband whenever she is fit to do so. How that fitness is determined is most likely a point of contention in the court of law, a place this case is most likely rarely if never seen, an unfortunate consequence surrounding the shame given to private encounters such as these.
9. Boys Inherit More Money Than Girls (The U.K.)
When you think of the U.K., several images come to mind: Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and The Queen. In a country ruled by a matriarch, it is startling to consider the fact that parliament still recognizes an old law supporting the greater inheritance for boys rather than their female counterparts. British aristocrats are currently seeking to overturn the principle of primogeniture, which states that “a family’s estate must be passed down to the eldest son, no matter how many daughters were born first.” In 2012, the line of succession to the throne was changed to reflect a new type of thinking: the first born child, no matter what gender, becomes the first in line to the throne. Now, if she could just get a hand on those royal jewels…
8. If An Elder Asks A Junior’s Hand In Marriage She Must Agree (Japan)
This law is a bit complicated. What’s going on here is that the Japanese government, as a reflection of traditionalist values supporting and honoring one’s elders and family, is meddling in human affairs by establishing a ludicrous law that gives complete control and power to an individual simply because of their age. This law supports ageism in a way unfamiliar to Western cultures that idolize youth and beauty. In Japanese culture, the elders are the ones with the stronger hand. An example of this crazy law in action goes something like this: Say an elder brother wants to marry his younger brother’s girlfriend. According to law, she must oblige. Ick! Talk about an awkward family Christmas or Buddha’s birthday. How does that work? They have Christmas in Japan, right?
7. Girls Cannot Drive A Car (Saudi Arabia)
At least there’s one true prince in Saudi Arabia. According to the New York Times, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of just many princes in Saudi Arabia, is urging the government to let women drive. On his personal website, he wrote, “It is high time that Saudi women started driving their cars.” Funny to think that women can actually own cars in a garage without ever being legally authorized to take them for a spin. The driving ban is currently enforced by Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry and has been the target of protests, especially since women achieved the right to vote and run in elections last December for the first time ever in history. To reconcile the conundrum of working women, mothers who need to get around, or just women wanting to go anywhere, professional drivers are often hired at a high monthly expense to chauffeur women to and fro. Sounds nice, but only if it’s by choice.
6. Female Puberty Earns You House Arrest (Uganda)
As if going through puberty wasn’t hard enough. Imagine being locked up inside the house trapped with your parents the minute you came of age. In Uganda, specifically the Baganda tribe, girls who go through their first menstrual cycle are expected to be locked away in a shack for two weeks as a result of some supernatural beliefs attributed to menstruation. In this tribe, it is believed that menstruation is the result of an invisible interaction with a ghostly spirit, a time in which girls are not allowed to handle food and their grandparents are entrusted to educate them on sexual matters. In addition to this strange custom, girls are often secluded for up to eighteen months as soon as they have their first child, so as not to become immediately pregnant again.
5. Girls Cannot Walk Around A Hotel Room Nude (China)
Okay, so we understand this concept if you’re parading about in a place where the public may catch a glimpse of your lady parts from a 7th story window without the curtains drawn, but what if you are a businesswoman just looking to relax and enjoy yourself in the nude for a little R&R? What if you paid for the hotel room yourself? What if you’re a Westerner unaccustomed to this law? Forget about a game of naked tag in the hotel room in China. The only area where women are legally allowed to show their (sarcasm) shameful form is in the bathroom. Young girls are included in this law as girls will eventually become women. At least there’s one place the female form is allowed in a five-star hotel!
4. Gynecologists Are Not Allowed to Directly View Lady Parts (Bahrain)
Say you are going to get your first physical as a young girl, which includes a thorough checkup of yes, every part of your body. How would you feel if said doctor (a complete stranger) looked at your body parts down under using a mirror? A little odd, right? Gynecologists in Bahrain are mandated to observe and inspect young women using only a reflection of the direct image of a woman’s private parts, calling more attention to the experience as a potential source of shame and embarrassment. Why is it that the female genitalia has such strict rules surrounding its presence, observance, and use? There are many arguments attempting to explain this matter, but like the old adage says, “The more attention you give something, the more power it gets.”
3. Girls Are Prohibited From Being Employed In 456 Types of Jobs (Russia)
As if being a working girl wasn’t difficult enough. In Russia, you can work 9 to 5 anywhere you want except these 456 places! That’s a lot of weeding out to do in the job search process. The types of jobs restricted to male employees include driving a train, being a chimney sweep, fire fighter, blacksmith or steel worker. The understood belief in that country is: “There are several jobs and professions that women shouldn’t do. Men should protect the homeland, not women. Women should stay at home and take care of the children and family.” Legislative restriction on female employment bars girls from aspiring to “be all they can be” or reach outside of gender normative roles. Unfortunately for young girls today in Russia, these widely held beliefs are deeply engrained in the Russian culture.
2. Girls Cannot Wear Pants (Swaziland)
Katherine Hepburn would not have had a good time here. The actress who made wearing pants very en vogue in the 1950s startled the public in America with her brash attitude toward traditional clothing styles. Today, in Swaziland, girls are not allowed to wear anything that may be considered menswear i.e. pants. Imagine how difficult activities like running can be when you have to do it in a skirt. If a woman does in fact wear pants, a soldier is given full authority to order them to strip in public. This law was put in place to reestablish what the government calls “traditional values.” Traditionally abusive? The government of Swaziland consists of one crazed lunatic named King Mswati III, the current King of Swaziland and head of the Swazi Royal Family. Not the type of family you want to make your in-laws.
1. Federal Funding Banned For Health Organizations (U.S.)
Yes, the good ol’ U.S. of A. has done it again! Reversed legal progress at the helm of President Trump. The day after the 44th anniversary of the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, Trump signed an executive order banning federal funding for international health organizations that perform or even speak with patients about abortion services. Despite your religious or political views, there’s no denying the fact that around the world a staggering 70,000 women die each year from botched abortions. How many women die each year from smoking tobacco, driving a car or at the other end of a firearm? Politics aside, it is increasingly important to note the reasoning behind such laws that initially gave women the power to choose. Those rights are slowly being taken back by a government that is refusing to acknowledge the leaders and legislators who came before.
Sources: www.pri.org, www.hrw.org, www.phactual.com, www.nytimes.com