A place for reflection and introspection, communication and thoughtful conversation.
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
“In my heart, I think a woman has two choices: Either she's a feminist or a masochist.” - Gloria Steinem
Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. By resolution 54/134 of 17 December 1999, the General Assembly of the United Nations designated 25th of November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and invited governments, international organisations and non-government organisations to schedule activities designated to raise public awareness of this widespread problem on this day. Women's activists have marked the 25th of November as a day against violence since 1981. This date came from the brutal assassination in 1960, of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, on orders of Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961).
Violence against women and girls is a worldwide problem of enormous proportions. Based on what country data that is available, up to 70 percent of women experience physical or sexual violence from men in their lifetime. Unfortunately, the majority of this violence comes from husbands, intimate partners or someone else they know. Among 15–44 year-old women, acts of violence cause more death and disability than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined. Perhaps the most pervasive human rights violation that we know today, violence against women devastates lives, fractures communities, and stalls development. It takes many forms and occurs in many places — domestic violence in the home, sexual abuse of girls in schools, sexual harassment at work, rape by husbands or strangers, in refugee camps or as a tactic of war.
The statistics are frightening:
• In the United States, one-third of women murdered each year are killed by intimate partners.
• In South Africa, a woman is killed every 6 hours by an intimate partner.
• In India, 22 women were killed each day in dowry-related murders in 2007.
• In Guatemala, two women are murdered, on average, each day.
• Women and girls constitute 80 percent of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked annually, with the majority (79 percent) trafficked for sexual exploitation.
• Approximately 100 to 140 million girls and women in the world have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting, with more than 3 million girls in Africa annually at risk of the practice.
• More than 60 million girls worldwide are child brides, married before the age of 18, primarily in South Asia (31.1 million) and sub-Saharan Africa (14.1 million).
• An estimated 150 million girls under 18 suffered some form of sexual violence in 2002 alone.
• As many as 1 in 4 women experience physical and/or sexual violence during pregnancy, which increases the likelihood of having a miscarriage, stillbirth and abortion. Up to 53 percent of women physically abused by their intimate partners are being kicked or punched in the abdomen.
• In São Paulo, Brazil, a woman is assaulted every 15 seconds.
• In Ecuador, adolescent girls reporting sexual violence in school identified teachers as the
perpetrators in 37 percent of cases.
• Approximately 250,000 to 500,000 women and girls were raped in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
• In eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, at least 200,000 cases of sexual violence, mostly involving women and girls, have been documented since 1996, though the actual numbers are considered to be much higher.
• Domestic violence alone cost approximately US$1.16 billion in Canada19 and US$5.8 billion in the United States.
In Australia, violence against women and children costs an estimated US$11.38 billion per year.
• Between 40 and 50 percent of women in European Union countries experience unwanted sexual advancements, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at their workplace.
• In the United States, 83 percent of girls aged 12–16 experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools.
This is the 21st century and we have attained a level of civilisation unprecedented in human history. Yet in some areas of our existence we are as backward as the half-animal ancestral hominids of the cartoons, where the male of the species subdues the female by violence and drags her to his dark cave by the hair. Violence of any form is the sign of a weak and stupid person. Violence against women, especially by men, is cowardly and demeaning, a sign of an unmanly man. My poem today takes its theme from the day and was inspired by a photograph of a victim of domestic violence on a poster I saw at the train station this morning…
She’ll cry herself to sleep again tonight,
While nursing bruises and her broken heart.
She lies huddled in her bed and sobs,
While picking up small fragments of her ego.
He snores beside her and her pain ignores,
His rage all spent, his violence a convenient outlet
For his little mind, his macho cowardice,
His puny job, his wilting manhood.
She would run away if she could, so far away!
She’d take her children and she’d go;
If she could save enough – courage and money –
If she had a job, a friend, some family…
He banks on her weakness, her dependence,
Her once-upon-a-time love, her once warm kisses.
He takes advantage and he blackmails,
He has the power, although the weaker of the two.
She wipes the drops of blood that trickle from her nose;
It could be broken, but no more than her dreams.
The pain in her body less than the pain in her soul,
Her patience exhausted, her love betrayed.
He’ll drink and hit again tomorrow,
He’ll laugh and shout and make her bleed.
She’ll sharpen the bread knife one of these days,
This fairy tale has no happy ending.
I have been blogging daily on this platform for several years now. It is surprising that I have persisted as the world is changing and "microblogging" is now the norm. I blog to amuse myself, make comment on current affairs, externalise some of my creativity, keep notes on things that interest me, learn something new and to surprise myself with things that I discover about this wonderful, and sometimes crazy, world we live in.
I sometimes get the impression that I am on a soapbox delivering a monologue, so your comments are welcome.