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Because the abuse is not only physical
by Thanos Kalamidas
2008-11-25 09:39:17
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International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women! Writing it I felt that it sounds so pompous! I mean we all are so pompous, full of fancy words and declarations with organizations governmental and nongovernmental, institutes and forums of arrogant and most often ignorant people full of good intentions, patronizing women who just turn the other cheek quietly suffering a reality nobody understands.

I know I sound angry but while writing that I remembered that the other day somebody, I don’t remember who and I hope I won’t offend anybody; said to me that he/she wanted to join one of these telephone lines where women victims of violence can call adding that she/he had a feeling for it. Shoot me while I breathe, please!!! Do they think that this is a hobby or something? I have nothing better to do so let’s patronize a poor woman whose been beaten from her husband or her father the last five years to make me feel better!

That’s why I say that all these words are so pompous. Do you know what’s the most dramatic element of these women’s life? That in most of the cases they are victims from the ones they love most and do you know that the last few years, mental and emotional violence is increasing dramatically compared to the physical violence.  Can you understand how big step it is for these women to accept that they have been abused? The step from denying the fact, from escaping all these social taboos the society has built for centuries to pick up the phone and talk with a stranger. And how big is this stranger’s responsibility and how much this stranger has to be specialized before answering. I know, I know your reaction is that even a friendly voice can help, yes a friendly voice not a strangers on the phone who instinctly try to patronize doesn’t matter how many crash courses has followed.

Social taboos is one of the worst traps and don’t worry these things have nothing to do with money, color or education, violence against women has been proven the less prejudice and racist human act. Don’t believe the myths that most of the victims come from poor and uneducated environments. The thing is that in those environments the news travel easier and is more difficult to hide. Information and education helps but only in the USA 50% of the women victims of domestic violence report to the police or an organization including the church while less than 35% of the rapes are reported.

I have more numbers but just think what I just wrote and wonder if that happens in the USA what really happens in countries like Turkey, a country that wants to join EU. Or do you think that things are better in Poland where one of the popular jokes is, you hit your wife every morning before going to work, you don’t know the reason but she does!!! Among the Roma people in Finland if the man doesn’t beat his wife he is not a real man. The numbers of domestic abuses due to alcohol in Scandinavia are shocking for countries with so much progress.

And as you noticed I careful avoided the example of countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Somalia, Malaysia or Iran where the woman is an item and not even a human being. Now thing how many people from those countries have immigrate with their families in Europe carrying with them what they consider traditions with the man as a master who has life and death rights on them. 

But let’s return to the numbers and this time lets go globally; at least one in every three women and girls has been beaten or sexually abused at least ones in her life. More than 90 million African women and girls are victims of female circumcision or other forms of genital mutilation, a study in Nigeria shown that 16 percent of hospitalized females treated for domestic and sexual violence were less than 5 year-old! A survey shown that more than 70% has witnessed domestic violence in their neighborhood, nearly 42% said that women were to blame! Please keep this last one.

No, women are not to blame but that’s how the society has been trained for centuries. When the man cheats he is … a man, when the woman cheats she is a tart and that’s the simplest example I can think of this minute. 42% of the 70% who witnessed domestic violence in their neighborhood thought that it was the woman’s fault! If you think about it you will understand why in the beginning of this article I wrote that International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women somehow sounds so pompous and apart of naïve people who think that talking on telephone lines can make a hobby this society needs a change and the change will come only from the people who know what they are doing and if the states and the organizations check the unemployment lists they will find a lot of psychologists not to mention the universities where they could enlist them while they are still students and full of motivation to help.

I have said it many times, these special international days remind something we forget the next day and don’t think that a woman who will read this article will go asking for help, the help must reach her and that is the key thing, how the help can reach all these women. How we can reach these women and how we can persuade them that it is not their fault, that there are no traditions, that there is no love in the beating and that they are not alone.

Nearly two thirds of all rapes are committed by someone who is known or relate to the victim. Boys who witness their father’s violence are 10 times more likely to engage similar abuse on their spouse later in their life than boys from non-violent houses. Somewhere in USA every 15 seconds a woman is a victim of violence usually from her partner, for the year 2000 over 80,000 children in USA experienced sexual abuse.

During the time it took you to read these article 16 women somewhere around this world one way or another have been physically, mentally or sentimentally abused, one of them is dead! The next time you dare think of abusing a woman any way think everything you just read!

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Emanuel Paparella2008-11-25 20:23:13
Here is an anecdote as narrated by the great philosopher Immanuel Kant in his essay “Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime” which may or may not shed some light on this issue of the abuse of women around the world. Kant cites a story by a Dominican missionary, Father Labat, concerning an African carpenter. Labat criticized the carpenter for his haughty treatment of his wives, Kant tells us. The carpenter replied with what certainly sounds like a rather shrewd response: “You whites are indeed fools, for first you make great concessions to your wives, and afterward you complain when they drive you mad.” Kant then adds a comment that is perhaps the single most appalling statement ever written by a great European thinker, perhaps the greatest of them all: “And it might be that there were something in this which perhaps deserved to be considered; but in short, this fellow was quite black from head to foot, a clear proof that what he said was stupid.” (continued below)

Emanuel Paparella2008-11-25 20:23:45
There would be no surprises here if such a statement had come from the famed Helen Smith who made her appearance in our magazine lately (most probably an alias for somebody, probably a man, hiding his true colors…) but coming from the great Kant it is astonishing indeed. It means that we in the West are indeed addicted, as you point out Thanos, to grandiose abstract ideals on human rights, but then even our great philosophers cannot trust themselves to evaluate the merits of a statement when it comes from the mouth of a black man, but instead judge its truth by the color of the skin of its author. Which of course begs the question: was Kant criticizing the abuse of women while overlooking his own racism? Does racism trump violence toward women even today or are they twin monsters issuing from the same parents: prejudice and intolerance? The intelligent reader can decide for him/herself.

Jack2008-11-28 21:09:50
As to your comment:

"How we can reach these women and how we can persuade them that it is not their fault, that there are no traditions, that there is no love in the beating and that they are not alone."

Well put. Violence by men, who are generally, physically stronger, against women is about as cowardice as the bully in the playground.

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