BY STAFF REPORTER
WHEN WOMEN are considered to be inferior beings they face increased risks of exploitation, abuse and even death, the Vatican's permanent observer at the United Nations has said.
"The inferior stains bestowed upon women in certain places and upon female infants in particular" makes them particularly vulnerable, Archbishop Celestino Migliore told the UN Commission on the Status of Women last week.
"In some local traditions, they are thought of as a financial burden and are thus eliminated even before birth," he said. "In this way, abortion, often considered a tool of liberation, is ironically employed by women against women."
Those who are allowed to live, he saki, are often treated as a piece of property to be disposed of as soon as possible, contributing to a system in which marriage is simply a cover for "sexual exploitation and slave labour".
The phenomenon of "mailorder brides" is similar, he said.
Any circumstance in which a girl or woman is treated as property and given or sold is a violation of her basic rights to dignity, freedom, health and security, the archbishop said.
He added that recognition of the dignity and equality of women cannot be achieved without "a fresh appreciation of authentically feminine values in the heart of our societies".