My mother and my aunts have followed my grandmothers and my great-aunts and I am left with a wife, a daughter and a daughter-in-law, two sisters, two girl cousins, two nieces, four nieces–in-law and four great-nieces.
A recent piece of news served to remind us of girls and young women who are sent abroad by their families to face forced marriages where beating and rape are not infrequent. Can you imagine calling yourself a man if you allowed or helped or encouraged other men to use, abuse, beat, rape and humiliate girls and women from your family?
I cannot imagine not being trusted by the seventeen females in my family, to respect them, to treat them as equals, to take care of them, to encourage them in their lives and to provide for them if necessary, as long as it was necessary, because they are family. Were I to anger or outrage them so that they sensed that this was no longer the case I would be mortified, ashamed, massively embarrassed and remorseful beyond all reckoning.
It is one thing to bid farewell to daughters who have taken effective charge of their own lives as they grow up; it is another to surrender parental control to monsters who can treat them as objects to be exploited. Beyond this barbaric mercilessness, can you imagine the loss to the world when girls and young women are abused in this way, denied their chance to do some good in this world because they are abandoned by their own families?
The family is the place where we can begin to learn to care for one another. Above all else, it is the one place that can and should provide love and security, solace and shelter to children who, like all of us, have no choice in the matter of our coming into this world. To deny our daughters this would render us sub-human, not worthy to be called men and women for even in the animal kingdom parents do not surrender their offspring to other creatures. If we deny a secure and caring family life to those whom we have brought into the world, or expel them from a family without good cause, why should we ourselves ever expect decent treatment from our fellow men and women?