Nicholas Kristof
The New York Times

Religion, at its best, offers an “ethical compass” for how to treat our fellow human beings, said Nicholas Kristof. Why, then, “do so many faiths help perpetuate the oppression of women?” Religious leaders who take the Bible and the Koran’s ancient texts literally still teach, in the 21st century, that “women are inferior beings in the eyes of God.’’

The New Testament quotes St. Paul as saying that women “must be silent,” while Deuteronomy declares that if a woman proves not to be a virgin on her wedding night, “the men of her town shall stone her to death.” An Orthodox Jewish prayer thanks God, “who hast not made me a woman.” The Koran says that a woman’s testimony shall count for half a man’s. Emboldened by this “theology of discrimination,’’ some religious men condone the brutal oppression of women, ranging from the Taliban’s attacks on girls who dare go to school to Hindu men who beat their wives.

The onus is on religion to stand for a simple ethical principle: “Any person’s human rights should be sacred, and not depend on something as earthly as their genitals.”