Friday, November 25, 2005

25/11: White Ribbon Day

Today, November 25th, is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, or "white ribbon day". The date was chosen in rememberance of the Mirabal sisters, three Dominican women murdered on the orders of the dictatator Rafael Trujillo for opposing his regime.

In New Zealand, the focus is on domestic violence. According to the Human Rights Commission, the New Zealand police received more than 45,000 emergency calls for domestic violence last year - an average of over a hundred a night. According to Women's Refuge, over 6,000 women and children flee their homes each year due to violence. And they have reason to; on average, one woman is killed by her current or former partner every five weeks. This is not something we should be tolerating.

(BTW, if you'd like to help Women's Refuge, there's an online donation form here).

In New Zealand, the situation is relatively good. Women here have legal rights and legal protections against violence (both in the form of protection orders and prosecution after the fact). Women in other countries are not so lucky. Just to pull a few things off the newswires:

  • In India, a woman is burned alive, beaten to death or driven to commit suicide every six hours. The country has only just introduced a domestic abuse bill.
  • In Ethiopia, 71% of women report having been subjected to physical or sexual violence at some stage in their life, according to a WHO report on violence against women.
  • In Afghanistan, lawlessness, traditional tribal culture and a toxic strain of Islam combine to create an environment where women can be abused and murdered with impunity. Women are still stoned for some offences, just as they were under the Taliban. And according to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, "Girls as young as six years old are being sold in the name of marriage."
  • In Pakistan, honour killings are rife, rapists enjoy effective impunity (and in fact their victims can be prosecuted for adultery), and gang-rape is used by tribal councils as a judicial punishment - as seen in the case of Mukhtaran Bibi.
  • In other parts of the Muslim world, particularly Saudi Arabia and Iran, women are subject to Sharia law, and enjoy few (if any) legal protections.

It's a depressing litany, which shows just ho much work there is to be done. As for what we can do, the easiest tactic is getting our government to apply pressure to other governments to improve their record in this area. The Prime Minister of Turkey will be visiting New Zealand in a little over two weeks, and their women's rights record leaves a lot to be desired. Maybe we should start there?


This is not a topic which is really within my area of expertise, but I thought I should post some form of pointer. But if anyone would like to contribute a guest column (and can do it by the end of the day), then I'd be happy to publish it.

(This means you, Adrienne)

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 11/25/2005 03:13:00 AM

Um - would love to, but I'm drowning in deadlines and related panic and am only barely keeping afloat. If it can wait until after Dec 1, then yes... but I'm a little fatigued of bad news about the world - I'd rather post some happy ending stories for a change if that's cool...

Posted by Anonymous : 11/25/2005 04:53:00 AM

Generally I'm after topicality - which means that I should have noticed this day coming in advance and solicited a few extra voices on it a few weeks ago (hmmm... something to keep in mind for Next Time).

Ah well, I can always link to the stuff Span and Capitalism Bad are putting up...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 11/25/2005 08:14:00 AM

Interesting isn't it that domestic violence seems to've become a synonym for violence by men against women.
Actually, men also beat up men; women beat up other women; and yes *shock horror* women beat men.

I have no problem if you want to single out men -> women violence as the biggest component, but please don't equate it with the term domestic violence.. in doing so, you effectively 'disappear' a significant number of victims.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/25/2005 08:18:00 AM

Maybe that MP, who is busy trying to save marriage for heterosexuals of a differing gender, should make amends and simply go for banning heterosexuality due to its detrimental effect on domestic violence.

Posted by Hans Versluys : 11/25/2005 10:23:00 AM

I would suggest that if people wanted to do something about violence against women in other countries they should support women's groups there directly. I believe that women in other countries will know much better than our government or their government what change is needed, and how to get it.

I think your characterisation of women as 'lucky' and 'having it good' when only more than a third, rather than 71% of women have subjected to, sexual and violent is borderline offensive.

By the way, if your India statistic is right, and I suspect it's not, then New Zealand has a higher level of death from domestic violence on a per capita basis (India's population of a billion is 250 times as large as New Zealand's there are 140 lots of 6 hours in 5 weeks)

Posted by Maia : 11/25/2005 12:13:00 PM

Maia: I think its clear that I was speaking in relative terms. Our domestic violence record isn't anything to be proud of, and more work needs to be done to stam pit out. It's food that attitudes have changed over the past decade or two - we no longer have spusal immunity for rape, for example, and the police actually try and enforce the law rather than walking away from "domestics" - but we have a long way to go.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 11/25/2005 12:35:00 PM

A recent three year UN study shows that globaly, we are missing 200 million women with the two leading causes of abortion, and infanticide.

Posted by Muerk : 11/25/2005 01:50:00 PM

Christiaan: well, she certainly has something to say about violence against women in the Muslin world. But it seems she's busy [shrug]

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 11/25/2005 02:38:00 PM

Maia - out of interest, where did you source your statistic that more than one third of NZ women have been subject to sexual (?) and violent?

Posted by Anonymous : 11/25/2005 03:59:00 PM

when is hte international day to stop violence against men?

Posted by Genius : 11/25/2005 07:18:00 PM

The Rape of Nanking was _horrific_. The woman, Iris Chang, who interviewed some of those who survived, committed suicide because of the deep depression her work gave her. She also interviewed Holocaust survivors.

Japan's agression is a fact, and whilst I think the death of innocent civilians due to nuclear weapons was a tragedy, it was a tragedy of Japanese military making.

Oh and Genius, there'll probably be a day for men when they stop doing 95% of the domestic violence. Although I'm unsure if that's a global or national statistic (I heard it on the radio today).

Posted by Muerk : 11/25/2005 08:34:00 PM

I/S I understand that you were talking comparatively, I still think that to use phrases like 'lucky' and 'comparatively good' is trivialising the seriousness of the situation. You could make your comparative point in a way that made it clear that you understood how bad things were in New Zealand, rather than in a way that minimised that.

huskynut a recent survey showed that 33% of women in Auckland and 37% of women in North Waikato has suffered physical or sexual violence from a partner over their lifetime. You can read more

Posted by Maia : 11/25/2005 09:22:00 PM

incidentally, since you bring up india, it's interesting to note that the law in india relating to women that die in the home. after a rash of brides being burnt to death, the law was changed so that where a new bride dies, the husband & family are presumed guilty & actually have to prove they are innocent. would be interested to know how effective this law has been in protecting women's lives.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/25/2005 11:21:00 PM

Anjum - It's a good point. I'll try and find out...

Posted by Anonymous : 11/26/2005 04:20:00 AM

I have always found it disturbing that in NZ everytime there is a major rugby match on there is a huge rise in domestic violence.
Whether this is a reflection on the game or our country I dont know.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/26/2005 05:49:00 AM

Insofar as violence against men the so-called 'black
ribbon' brigade support straight
male accountability insofar as
homophobic violence against gay
men goes?

Thought not.

Craig Y.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/26/2005 10:45:00 AM

Who said there was a sudden rise in Domestic Violence when there is a major rugby match? The RadFems tried to perpetuate that lie in USA re Baseball games, but it was disproved.
Our RadFems haven't even tried it in NZ so far as I know.
As one instigator of Black Ribbon, we are trying to highlight violence against men by women- we hadn't even thought about gays- but I guess they should look at their own relationship violence too

Posted by Anonymous : 11/26/2005 11:54:00 AM

I think that there should be notice taken of violence against men - domestic, homophobic, bullying, and all. While the large majority of domestic physical violence is by men on women, that dosn't mean that the reverse should be ignored or belittled.

In addition, it should be remembered that not all violence is physical, and women are capable of being incredibly verbally/emotionally destructive - with men and with each other. An interesting study in the USA found levels of bullying similar in boys and girls - male bullying was mainly physical, female bullying was verbal and emotional. Importanly, both sets of victims suffered similar symptoms.

If we condemn bullying or dmoestic violence, it's important to deal equally severely with ALL forms, rather than see it as purely male on female. I would support a "de-genderising" of all these discussions...

Posted by Anonymous : 11/26/2005 02:07:00 PM

Adrienne - thanks for your response.. it is very heartening to hear. :-)
It seems to me there is an huge amount of energy wasted when we divide along gender ranks and fight on issues where we could better find common ground to agree and cooperate.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/26/2005 03:03:00 PM

> when they stop doing 95% of the domestic violence.

Cripes what studies have you been reading? clearly quite different from the ones I have seen that show there is nothing like that level of difference. And personal experience would imply that statistic is rubbish too.

Maybe your issue is that men don't report it and of course men who hit hit are likely to hit harder and women just hit more often.

Posted by Genius : 11/26/2005 05:16:00 PM

As I said Genius, it was a statistic I heard on the radio on the day.

Posted by Muerk : 11/26/2005 11:08:00 PM

There's way too much hearing of stats on the radio or reading them in newspapers and then quoting them as though they were actually worth something. Eg, if a survey showed a third of NZ women have suffered violence at the hands of their partners, that invites skepticism regarding the survey, not credence. How did they define violence? Under what circumstances? (Eg, I hit my wife hard enough to bruise her once when she was trying to get sugar into me to when I'd taken too much insulin and was completely out of it - I don't remember it and she doesn't count it as assault.) Using their definition of violence, what proportion of NZ men have suffered violence at the hands of their partners? Surveys aren't worth much until we know that stuff and assess it. Social scientists are pretty much universally guilty of arranging their research to give them the results they were looking for, eg the "childcare is bad" types that found children in childcare were more aggressive by defining aggression in a way few of us would recognise. Same deal with one in four women being sexually abused back in the 80s.

Posted by Psycho Milt : 11/27/2005 12:05:00 AM

Well how about this then.

Posted by Muerk : 11/27/2005 12:43:00 PM

Cheers Muerk.. I’ve bookmarked that site.. if I ever need a dose of axe-grinding, intellectually-defective, knee-jerk feminism I’ll be sure to re-visit it. For a moment I thought I’d strayed into a Rosemary McLeod column.. I mean, honestly:

From one page:
“The vast majority of domestic violence in western industrial societies is perpetrated by men. This doesn't mean men are bad - rather that most men are raised to believe they are superior to women.”
Most men are *what??!!!* I don’t know *any* of my peers, friends or remote social contacts who’ve expressed anything even vaguely, remotely, slightly of having feelings of superiority (perhaps we all just take it for granted, so we don;t have to express it.. ;)

It goes on:
“Overwhelmingly, it is a social problem of men's violence against women and sometimes children. It is based in deep-seated beliefs in male superiority. When men and women achieve equality, domestic violence will reduce by 90%”

Quite apart from the statistics (am I alone in expecting that DV against men is under-reported due to social pressure in good-old ‘blokey’ NZ in exactly the same way DV against women used to be?), can anyone conceive of an equivalently patronising site targeting women or racial groups, or religious groups?, say:
Pacific Islanders – you have a problem with being fat because you believe you have the right to eat as much crapo as you want? or,
Women – you are the cause of fetal alcohol syndrome through your ignorant, self-indulgent behaviour.
Yet for some reason, it’s considered acceptable amongst a group of gender-warriors to be outrageously disrespectful and patronising in ways no-one would consider tolerating towards any group other than men.

Maybe I got it wrong and the site is just a piss-take.. it surely can’t be for real..

Posted by Anonymous : 11/27/2005 04:39:00 PM

Here is another feminist however on the page you will see..

"Using national survey data, researchers have found that in homes with couple violence, about 1/4 of the respondents report that men were victims but not offenders; another fourth allege that women were victims but not offenders; and one-half of the respondents report that both husbands and wives were violent (Straus, Gelles, and Steinmetz 1980)....What appears to be consistent across studies using the Conflict Tactics is that reported wife-to-husband assault is about as common as husband-to-wife assault." (ie the result wasn't a fluke)

The writer then goes on to atack a straw man (that male violence and female violence are equally bad at the worst end of the spectrum)
and to argue that mutual violence is generally self defence for the women (this may be partly true but it seems ridiculous to say this accounted for all the overlap particularly since the male and female only sections are equal surely there must be some agrivated females in the overlap!)

and even if that was entirely true you would stil only hve 75/25 split

Obviously everyone knows that an average man is stronger than an average woman - if the fight is mutual and it goes to a all out fight the woman is the one who will 95% of the time leave with serious injuries (the other 5% the woman is genuinely stronger, to the eternal embarasment of the man) thus you have your other statistics.

But the fact that I know I could theoretically beat a woman senseless doesn't really help me if she starts hitting me.

Posted by Genius : 11/27/2005 10:08:00 PM

After I'd calmed down slightly, I did start to see a wry irony in an anti-violence site using tactics of manipulation and control.. :-)

But that doesn't excuse the fact the Governor General is associated with what is basically a hate site (don't get it?) - try substituting 'jew',or 'muslim' for 'men' in any of the site quotes I listed earlier and see if society would consider it acceptable).

Personally, I'm writing to the GG demanding she withdraw her patronage so long as this garbage is published, and I hope others will do the same.

btw - where are you on this one I/S? You're normally so outraged and outspoken about intolerance and propaganda... the NZ GG as patron of a hate site.. I'd have thought that worthy of a caustic remark..

Posted by Anonymous : 11/28/2005 07:03:00 AM