What does violence against women look like?

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I thought a long time about sharing the photo on the left, but decided to because we have so many others that glorify violence against women and turn into a joke or a game – like the advert on the right, which is one of many similar ones where violence against women is glamourized. Sexy is so much more fun than sad.

The photograph on the left is not staged, but real, tragic and common. It was taken by the St. Augustine police department two years ago when Michelle O’Connell, 24, was found dead of a gunshot wound.  It was used yesterday in part of an extensive investigative report by the New York Times  on her death. The piece, Two Gunshots on a Summer NIght, is about the police department’s botched investigation of her death. Her boyfriend was a member of the St. Augustine police department. Each day in the US at least three women are murdered by husbands or boyfriends.

The news program Frontline and PBS are showing a film in conjunction with this story, “A Death in St. Augustine,” Nov 26 at 10 p.m. Tuesday on most PBS stations. The full film is online now.

Today is the launch of this year’s #16DaysofActivism, the purpose of which is to study, make know and help eliminate the causes of violence against women. What does this violence look like?

Consider femicide, which is the murder of women because they are women:

  • Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime
  •  In the United States, one-third of women murdered each year are killed by an intimate partner.
  •  In South Africa, a woman is killed every six hours by an intimate partner.
  • In India in 2007, 22 women were killed each day in dowry-related murders.
  • In Guatemala, two women are murdered, on average, each day.
  • Honor killings, the murder of women for bringing shame to their families, happen all over the world, including the US.

What about slavery, which is what trafficking is?

  • Women and girls comprise 80 percent of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked annually, with the majority (79 percent) trafficked for sexual exploitation.
  • This number is on the low end. The U.N. International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that 2.5 million people worldwide are victims, of which over half live in Asia Pacific.
  • Trafficking, in the form of the importation of female sex slaves and use of children as sex workers, is on the rise in the U.S.

Still not outraged? Because if not, there are always euphemistically titled “harmful practices” — which are violent forms of torture and rape. For example:

  • Approximately 100 to 140 million girls and women in the world have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting. Every year more than 3 million girls in Africa are at risk of the practice.
  • Over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides, another euphemism if I ever heard one, married before the age of 18, primarily in South Asia (31.1 million and Sub-Saharan Africa (14.1 million).
  •  These numbers don’t include bride burning, suspicious dowry-related “suicides” and “accidental” deaths or other hateful acts.

Now we’re at plain old domestic and sexual violence:

  • Every nine seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten.
  •  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes every year.
  • According to the US Department of Justice, someone is sexually assaulted every two minutes in the U.S. (overwhelmingly women).
  • One out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. That is almost 20 percent of our population and the US Justice Department acknowledges that rape is the mostunderreported crime in the nation.
  • As many as one in four women experience physical and/or sexual violence during pregnancy, for example, which increases the likelihood of having a miscarriage, stillbirth and abortion.
  • Up to 53 percent of women in the world are physically abused by their intimate partners – defined as either being kicked or punched in the abdomen.
  • In Sao Paulo, Brazil, which is so much fun to visit, a woman is assaulted every 15 seconds.
  •  In Ecuador, adolescent girls reporting sexual violence in school identified teachers as the perpetrator in 37 per cent of cases.
  • In the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo alone, more than 400,000 cases of sexual violence, mostly involving women and girls, have been documented — a rate of 48 women an hour.

* All statistics cited can be found, with detailed sourcing, here at SAY NO-UNITE. When I’ve referenced other statistics they’re linked directly to the  source.

Cross-posted here with permission from Soraya Chemaly

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