Violence against women is a straight forward statement, it is understood by most, as women are being violated. The range of this violence is vast and is as deadly as it was before human rights were ever presented. Who are the violators you ask? It’s men of course... right?
A few years back when presented with the topic, my first response was; how don’t you expect women not to be violated when you see the way they dress nowadays, it’s a no brainer. Men only get aroused or get “interested” when a woman is dressed in a certain way, of course the problem isn’t with us it’s with the way women dress. And I was done, that was it for me, because in my mind, I have never harassed a woman before, the only time you would have caught me staring was when she was in a skimpy outfit, and the setting would probably be a public place so I always felt justified by telling myself she really just wanted the attention by dressing that way and who was I not to oblige. Blaming us, the men was totally unjustified.
Now that the topic had been made apparent to me it started to pop up everywhere and as I began to have this conversation with more of my female friends, I realized that they all said the same, each and everyone of them had the same views on the topic, that men actually played a major role. Presented with such overwhelming information there was no way I could continue to hold on to my opinions, and so I settled on putting half of the blame on men and half of it on the women, of course I wasn’t going to concede and shift camps over night. And so I found the middle ground, the sweet spot, women still had to make an effort to change the way the carry themselves and men had to start to respect women more. This ideal felt right, and mostly because my mother raised a boy who was taught from infancy that women are to be respected and when warranted, protected. It was the best way to move forward and drastically reduce the violence against women. And when our religious minister came up with the idea of changing women’s dress code as a solution, I felt it was solving half the problem, the men's side of it I felt wasn’t being addressed. Having a few more discussions with my friends, I realized that most of them still weren’t in agreement with me, it felt like the girls were just putting everything on men because they didn’t want to change, so I just pushed back and settled into my new found idea.
For a long time it didn’t feel necessary to take in more information concerning women violence, it felt redundant. I had already known everything there was to know, and it is only now that I have realized that the passive nature of men on the subject has led to it being the scourge it is today. So I decided to look into the topic and my discoveries were scary. Let’s look at the math ; a study taken by the world health organization actually shows that 1 in 3 women are subjected to sexual and physical violence worldwide and this abuse starts as early as 14 years. 1 in 3 women. Just after they become teens. It has gotten to a point where women don’t feel safe when not in their homes anymore, that the solution is to carry big purses so as to have a tazer, pepper-spray and other tools that can be used to better defend themselves when attacked. My question then was when have we men ever felt unsafe when we leave the house? When have we ever been made to feel uncomfortable in broad day light by the opposite sex? Probably never, and in all that the most scary statistic was that worldwide 6 women are killed by men every 1 hour. That’s 4,464 deaths per month. Which racks up to a staggering 52,416 deaths per year.
Now let’s step back a little and hold the ‘men being blamed is totally unjustified’ idea, sexual violence then coming into focus, women’s dress code to be specific, are you telling me that 1 in 3 women are dressing indecently? Of course not, saying women dressing indecently is the cause for sexual violence against them is like saying adding salt to a lemon is what makes it bitter, of course the salt has a part to play but it is by no means the one causing over 70% of the bitterness you are tasting. During my discussions, ladies have told me that even when properly dressed they still experience the same when men look at them a certain way. The problem with this idea is that the cause of sexual violence keeps shifting, it oftentimes starts with why was she dressed like that, to okay she was decently dressed but what was she doing hanging out with such kind of people, and when she isn’t hanging out, why was she walking alone, the list goes on and on, trying to shift the blame and make the violated look at fault when the violator is to blame. The ‘share the blame’ idea is also a culprit in its own right, remember when I asked whether it was men violating women? It’s by all means the men, but we've had a tendency of using a passive voice when addressing the topic, nobody is doing it to the women, ‘they just experience it’. This in turn frames the conversation into something women experience alone and hence should find their own solutions to a problem that we keep insisting has nothing to do with men. Another problem you encounter is that of men saying that they have a sister or daughter at home and that is why it pains them when an act of sexual violence is unearthed, so if you do not have a sister or daughter it doesn’t hurt you? Why should it hurt you only when you have a sister or daughter, this is something that should hurt each and every man regardless.
Most of the men out there will say, "I only cat call and admire them", the question is does the woman know that is all you are doing? Yes truthfully it might be benign but does she know that? You don’t have to get physical or sexually harass someone for you to be part of the problem, even the little things men do go a long way in increasing the hurt and paranoia women go through. Men are at the heart of this monster of violence that is being experienced by women all over the world right now and until the conversation can be shifted from blaming the woman to addressing the man, very little can be done to stop it.
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