As Donald Trump was elected into the American Presidency, I, like many, sat back in horror. I couldn't believe it. I awoke like many, expecting to see Hillary Clinton's name over the front of newspapers, declaring her the next President of the United States. I was expecting a momentous moment where the United States would show its true moral colours and say no to electing a self-professed sexual predator into the highest office in their country. I expected to see them reject archaic, discriminatory attitudes that dismiss sexual assault and harassment as 'no big deal' and instead send a message to the world that at all times sexual assault is unacceptable and a man with a string of accusations against him could no way be accepted as President of the United States.
But I didn't.
It was like a slap in the face.
It was like a slap in the face because as a long time Hillary Clinton supporter, I desperately hoped that she would become the first female President of the United States. And I desperately hoped that it would be a message to the world that change is on the way. Having travelled throughout much of the world including the deserts of the Middle East, the wilds of Africa, the Islands of the Pacific and the jungles of Latin America, what I have witnessed throughout the world, is relentless violence and discrimination against women. I have heard men laugh as they have talked about violence against women as if it is 'normal'. I have watched as men have shrugged their shoulders in complacency at complaints of violence. I have seen streets filled practically only men as women are barely allowed in public spaces. I have sat in in horror as men have smirked and laughed at my complaints of the horrendous levels of sexual harassment that I have been subject to. I desperately wanted America to send the message to the world that they would not under any circumstances stand for Donald Trumps atrocious behavior and that they at least, would not tolerate sexual violence towards women.
But they didn't.
It was like a slap in the face because this meant that more than half of the population of the United States must condone sexual violence. Because if they didn't, there is just no way that they could have voted Donald Trump into the highest office in their land.
It was like a sick, sinking feeling of disappointment.
How could America, with all of their claims of being one of the most progressive, forward thinking and best countries in the world, support a man who brags about sexual assault?
'It can't get any worse,' I hear women Trump supporters declaring as their cause to vote for Donald Trump, as if a real estate developer with no political experience will somehow be solution to all of their problems. They voted for Donald Trump, they said, because their situation couldn't get any worse.
But what American women need to know is yes, it absolutely can get worse. With a self confessed sexual harasser in the highest office in the country, what will this mean for women's rights? Will young boys now think that it is okay to sexually harass women? Will they think because their President does it, its okay for them to do it?
What American women must understand is that America is ahead in terms of women's rights. In most of the rest of the world it is worse for women, much, much worse. According to the Thomas Reuters Foundation, in Iran, men are allowed to marry their adopted daughters from the age of 13. In India, the law states that sexual intercourse between a man and his wife is not rape. In Nigeria, violence by a husband for the purpose of correcting his wife is lawful. In Yemen, a woman can not leave the house without permission from her husband. In Saudi Arabia, women are banned from driving. In Lebanon, a rapist is not liable to prosecution if he marries his victim.
Your situation can certainly get much, much worse.
We have seen women's rights regress with a change in political government in both Iran and Afghanistan. I have spoken with women in Tunisia and the Maldives who have complained of deteriorating rights with a change in governance.
With a man who brags about sexually assaulting women as President, what is this now going to mean for your rights?
You had a chance to step forward America, to show the world that you are a progressive nation, that you care about women's rights and that you care about shattering those brutal barriers that prohibit women from reaching the highest levels of government not just in the United States, but throughout the world.
But you didn't.
You instead voted for a man who sells steaks and brags about walking in on women changing at beauty pageants.
I feel disappointed and I feel worried. I hope more than anything that your rights as American women don't regress with a Donald Trump Presidency and I hope that all the young boys who have watched Donald Trump become President do not now think that it is acceptable to sexually harass women. I hope that you as American women continue with the very important movement to demand equal pay, I hope that you continue to work towards ending the endemic levels of sexual violence not just in the US but throughout the world and I hope that you continue to insist that at all times your body is your body and it is up to you to decide what you do with it. But what I hope for the most, is that somewhere there is a young girl, or even better, a young woman, who is getting ready to be the next woman to take on the United States Presidency. I hope that she is undeterred by the latest course of events and is instead more determined than ever to take on what Hillary Clinton has started with the tremendous struggle to become the first female President of the United States. I hope so, because now more than ever we need strong, powerful and courageous women to stand up and be the champions, just as Hillary Clinton has been, for women and girls everywhere, all over the world. We need women and girls everywhere to continue to demand that violence and sexual harassment are at all times, unacceptable.