Across the world, girls and women still lack the choice of “who and when to marry,” according to Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director. As stated in the Report, “Two-thirds of countries around the world allow girls to be married before 18 with parental or judicial consent.” When it comes to equal rights within a marriage, "out of 189 countries, 19 explicitly require women to obey their husbands, [and] in 17 countries, married women are not allowed to travel outside the home in the same way as married men.” Furthermore, “in 37 countries married women are not allowed to apply for a passport in the same way as married men.” In addition, “women and men do not have equal rights to inherit assets from their spouse” in 37 out of 183 countries.
Miles and years away, last spring I visited one of the Planned Parenthood clinics in New York. Before security escorted me in, I was briefly harassed by the 2 or 3 protesters standing outside in the rain. They screamed at me, “Are you interested in alternative information?” Eleven years after I lent money for an abortion, I knew better than to engage with “pro-life" people. Maybe I should have told them that the only alternative options I am interested in are birth control, sexual education and free healthcare. If these are not available, then there must be a law allowing abortion. Laws on abortion exist because abortion exists, not the other way around. I wish my friend and all women, whether in the DR, Alabama, or Italy had that option.