I constantly struggle to explain to my lady friends in America that the freedom to be themselves, that they take for granted here, simply doesn't exist in many other parts of the world. They find it hard to believe me, even when I show them newspaper articles of forced marriages in the Islamic world, women being sold to prospective husbands for a 'bride price' in many tribal cultures in Africa, and - here in America as much as anywhere else - the horrible phenomenon of men murdering their wives and children rather than accept a divorce, on the grounds that 'if I can't have them, no-one else will'.
This same sickness is becoming more and more evident just South of our border. Reuters reports:
Teenage girls in northwest Mexico are dazzled by the glamorous "narco wives" who laze in beauty salons, draped in designer gear, getting Swarovski crystals glued onto their fingernails.
Each year, dozens compete in beauty pageants in the sun-baked hills of Sinaloa state where their legendary good looks draw wealthy drug traffickers who will sometimes pluck one out and spirit her off to a mountain hide-out.
Career prospects are few for Sinaloan girls, and landing a prominent drug trafficker means entering a world of untold riches -- luxury mansions, SUVs, endless spa sessions and a closet full of the priciest labels on the planet.
The dangers of getting sucked into the gangland world have jumped, however, as an army crackdown by President Felipe Calderon has sparked new turf wars and hitmen ignore old codes against slaying their enemies' wives, girlfriends or children.
In a sobering reminder of the risks they run, the reigning "Miss Sinaloa" beauty queen was arrested last month with her smuggler boyfriend in a truck full of guns and cash.
Days earlier, a top drug boss's former lover was found dead in a car trunk with "Z"s -- the mark of a rival gang's hit squad -- cut into her breasts, belly and buttocks.
. . .
... the raven-haired wife, Guadalupe, of Guzman's ally Hector "El Guero" Palma, was seduced away and decapitated in 1989 by a Venezuelan on the payroll of a rival drug faction.
Her killer also pushed her two children off a bridge to their death and sent Guadalupe's head back in a box to Culiacan, where a morbid portrait of the three now adorns their tomb.
"They are revenge killings. They settle scores. One way to hurt a rival is to kill the woman he loves most," said Ricardo Ravelo, a veteran drug reporter at Mexico's hard-hitting news magazine Proceso.
There's a lot more information in the full article, which I urge you to read.
I saw such attitudes many times while working as a chaplain in US prisons. The hard-line gang members treat their women as possessions, nothing more. If one of them lands up doing hard time, he'll 'hand over' his woman to another gang member - whether she likes it or not. If she tries to resist, she might - if she's very lucky - escape with a beating. More often she'll be scarred for life, perhaps even killed. I've known such women to be forced into prostitution to get money for their incarcerated boyfriends, be forced to traffic drugs (particularly bringing them to the prison, where they're worth a lot more than they are 'on the street', and where the women risk multi-year prison sentences themselves if they're caught), and so on.
Friends, for those of you with daughters who are still growing up, please don't keep them in ignorance of these realities. Many young American girls are naive to the point of insanity! They really think they can go anywhere, do anything, and no-one can or will stop them or hurt them. You might want to point out the example of Natalee Holloway . . . and she's not alone. Girls are killed like that each and every year in popular student holiday spots. It continues to happen, because the girls are never warned by their parents, and they never learn.
It's not a safe world for women. All the women's lib in the world hasn't changed that fact.
What brought this on, you ask? Just the daughter of a friend, who went to Mexico recently with a group of fellow students on a Christmas break . . . and came back raped, brutalized and scarred for life. I've had to try to talk her through the worst of it. She'll never be the same again.
Don't let it happen to your daughter.