Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Fathers with daughters must see beyond borders and take the lead.

I grew up swimming in a sea of estrogen. Between my mom and sister, I was lucky enough to keep some semblance of manhood from drowning.

No laughter or color commentary from the friendly sidelines, please.

Of course, I wouldn't trade my feminine sensitivity for anything. Those who know me know this. I witnessed enough domestic violence with my mother and severe workplace discrimination and sexual harassment with my sister early on -- where the violent side of manhood evaporates every last drop of estrogen it touches.

Thankfully, both my mom and sister persevered with a deep-welled strength I could only imagine having.

Today I have my own family: all girls, all mightily strong-willed. This includes Mama, Beatrice and Bryce (who's almost here), and a 300-year-old Calico named Chelsea.

As a husband and father in a city and country where my family is relatively safe compared to many other places around the globe, I cannot imagine what happened to Aisha happening to my girls. Aiesha is the Afghan woman that Time magazine made the cover story.

Under orders from a Taliban commander acting as a judge, Aisha's nose and ears were sliced off last year as punishment for fleeing her husband's home, according to Time's story and other accounts. She said she fled to escape her in-laws' beatings and abuse.

Now in a women's shelter, she is set to get reconstructive surgery in the U.S., with the help of Time, humanitarian organizations and others.

Did the men who did this to her look her in the eyes during the act? Again, I cannot imagine. The level of angry repulsion is beyond me.

The Pixel Project, of whom I've done some volunteer work for, is an online group that works to combat violence against women, and saw the Aisha photo and story as a call to action. Founder Regina Yau called it "a teachable moment."

It's estimated that one out of every three women worldwide will be physically, sexually or otherwise abused in her lifetime.

That's egregious. Too many teachable moments that aren't being taught.

Thankfully there are many organizations worldwide working to end this violence, which is no easy task.

The Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF) and Women Thrive Worldwide have begun running powerful print and banner ads in Politico to urge Congress to pass the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) this year.

The ad, which depicts a somber young woman, says:

"Her Eyes Will See So Much.
An aunt brutally punished for being RAPED.
A friend forced into PROSTITUTION.
A cousin SOLD INTO MARRIAGE at age 12.
A sister BURNED WITH ACID for going to school.
Don’t turn your back on her.
Pass the International Violence Against Women Act, so she can see a world free of violence against girls and women."

You can see the full ad here.

More information on the International Violence Against Women Act is available at

For me and many others, it's not a political issue. The political part of the equation is a mean's to an end to solicit positive change.

This is a women's right's issue; it's a human right's issue.

They need a voice. They need to be heard. They need to be helped.

We need to look into their eyes and tell them they have a right to live a non-violent life as we do. And then ensure it.

Fathers with daughters must see beyond borders and take the lead.