Friday, 8 April 2016

Hate Crime against Women

If you are a woman in 2016, sexual violence (and the threat thereof) will be a big factor in how you live your life. It affects where you go, what time you go, who you go with, what you drink, where you stay, who you sleep with. The list is endless. Some call it life, but seriously, it’s glorified imprisonment.

Rapes happen every day. But I have noticed that for rapes to matter, for rapes to even count, that it would have to be, first and foremost, gruesome. Add murder to it, people care a little more. Add mutilation – now it’s horrifying. And it is horrifying in the worst way possible. Do we really have to wait for women to be murdered or brutally attacked before we feel it’s worthy to acknowledge sexual violence?

It is as though the world expects young women to be raped. You’re nubile, you own a vagina, and men will be men, right ladies? Sure, let’s normalise rape against women, let’s understand it as nothing more than heterosexual sex. Men have urges. It’s nature.

A lion gets killed and it’s so harrowing that the whole world is in uproar. A young woman was held down while a man shoved his penis in her against her will – it happens.

Helen Moffat writes about this kind of overarching attitude as an ingrained hatred against women. And that is exactly what it is.

In fact, the number of women who are murdered every year should, realistically, have set off a worldwide political alarm. Every year, about 66 000 women are killed globally in violent acts of femicide. Compare this with acts of terrorism (according to the Institute of Economics and Peace in 2014) which killed 32,658 people in 2014. Femicide totals over DOUBLE the number of ‘terrorist attacks’.

To rape or kill a woman because she broke up with you, because she cheated on you, because she went for a jog in the forest, because she was drunk, because she was alone, because she left work late, because she’s lesbian, because she slept with other people, because she slept with you, because she didn’t sleep with you – that is a hate crime. To attack a woman because she is a woman is a hate crime.
The rapes and murders of young women need to be taken seriously, because sexual violence is not about heteronormative sex drives, and it is not caused by the depravity of a small group of men. It’s the direct consequence of masculinity. It is romanticising female non-consent; it is silencing women who are outspoken, shaming female sexual autonomy, regulating women’s behaviour.

It is acting as though rapists are not your brothers, sons, fathers and a friend to distance them from you; and it is convincing people that women are ‘sisters and daughters and mothers’ to justify their existence.

And women whose names I will never hear and whose faces I will never see.
How many more until a country can act as though women’s lives have value? How many more until it matters?

 Violence against women is a hate crime.