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Empowerment of Women II
There are many of us who have supported the empowerment of women and now we are looking at a showcase of where we are as a society. It is not what the supporters of women’s rights had been hoping.
A major issue in empowerment for a woman certainly must relate to control over her own body.
The biggest issue at the moment is about abortion after rape. The opposition to her right to have an abortion is raising moral issues and the issues go deep.
A wealthy woman can go overseas for an abortion whether it relates to rape or not. But a universal abortion ban will have serious consequences for the less well to do. It will not prevent all abortions but certainly will most heavily impact the poor and less wealthy.
But let’s move to the more delicate issue of ethics. Certainly, most women are not typically enthusiastic about getting an abortion. But we do seriously have to give her or let her maintain the rights over her own body.
At another level there are family finances. Children are costly and the arrival of an unplanned child can do serious damage. At this point we’re not talking ethics but an event which may do serious damage to a family financially and may remain active in the background emotionally. The issues have an even greater impact if the child is due to rape.
And then there are other substantive issues to which this clinical psychologist needs to speak.
There is the matter of behind the scenes effects. We begin with the simple and crucial matter of the fundamental rights of a woman to guide her own life and the issue of empowerment in the broadest sense. No matter what her decision, abortion, is a particularly difficult decision. But then at another level, there are the issues I, as a psychologist, have seen.
In my practice I saw difficult and terrible effects over family members when events are not wanted or not planned jointly. When parents receive a child they feel they can’t afford, it affects them including the child over time because the child will experience parents in conflict or pain. If the parents both didn’t wish it, that must be worked on and a positive decision will be in the interest of the child but may be edged in conflict. And that means a clear decision needs to be made in advance. Yes, there is often conflict which affects everyone at the time or later. And we must never forget the long range effects on a child and they may be very difficult.
Of course, brewing through all of this needs to be the empowerment of women and their right to choose. When all the factors are identified and worked upon, in the end the decision should lie with the woman. She may bear the child and will have a great deal of the chore of raising him or her. But above all men and society should not be in total control of her especially when rape is involved. It is something which really should be her decision. She will bring the child and the consequences will fall most heavily on her because it may or may not relate to her empowerment and her emotional life and then the marriage. Of course she may never forget the rapist or the experience of rape.
But in the end it is often the child who carries the most weight at a deep fundamental level. What I saw over the years was that a decision concerning rape may find its way to be carried by the child. It also is felt if there are emotional consequences because the child will feel negative sentiment resonating to him or her. This is not to say a child of rape should never be borne. But the consequences may be deeper and more unexpected at a wider level than anyone may suspect. Rape, even behind the scenes will often affect the child deeply.
What I saw over and over and over again was the fact and that the consequences may show in the couples relationship in unintended ways. But, of course, it inevitably affects a woman’s autonomy and independence. Men must understand that. Certainly the husband deserves input but women deserve their empowerment. And then, of course if rape is involved, parents must keep their own attitude about the rape separate from the child.
Much of all the issues borne by women relates to her autonomy. The time for her empowerment has come.