Anyone on Facebook will have seen posts asking people if they have seen a missing person, and appealing for help in finding them. Like me, you might feel you’re helping to reunite lost family members by passing on the info and sharing the photos. But it turns out this might not be the best thing to do. A man recently made a heart-rending plea, asking for help to find his missing children. Kind-hearted folks shared the photos and eventually, someone recognised them and told him where to find them. What no-one sharing the photos realised was that his ex-partner was living under a secret identity after leaving the man, and this information allowed him to find her. She subsequently had to move to a women’s shelter. You can read more here.
Query from a reader: Domestic Violence Research August 22, 2013
I’m looking for a piece of research that (I’m sure) I’ve read in a feminist philosophy text. However, I can’t find it anymore and wanted to ask your readers for help.
I recall reading about social scientists (in the US, I think) who were trying to measure the occurrence of domestic violence. When the researchers asked women if they were suffering from domestic violence, they found that the rates of domestic violence reported were extremely low (to non-existent). This prompted the scientists to alter their approach. They subsequently asked much more refined and detailed questions, and got very different results. The detailed questions included: (e.g.) whether one’s husband is (in some sense) controlling, and whether he sometimes twists the woman’s arm so that she sustains bruises and injuries. Those who reported not suffering from domestic violence went on to report being subject to these kinds of behaviours. Does someone know where this study is discussed, or its reference?
Training teens on bystander intervention June 25, 2013
An article on CNN is discussing bystander training in a high school, instituted in the wake of the murder of former student Lauren Astley by her ex-boyfriend. It’s a terribly heart-breaking story, but it’s a welcome change to see these issues being discussed in a nuanced way, and to see long-term plans for intervention going forward, in a mainstream news outlet.
Nigella Lawson and Domestic Violence June 17, 2013
So Charles Saatchi attacked Nigella Lawson at a posh restaurant. And though lots of people took photos, and some apparently contacted the police, nobody intervened. [Expletives deleted] It is, however, provoking some useful discussion (yes, amazingly, from the Telegraph):
So class or status is irrelevant, but we persist in our naivety. It’s a defence mechanism, of course; we’re desperate to find a cast-iron reason that will distance us from the miserable fate suffered by someone unnervingly similar to our comfortable little selves – because we don’t want to believe that it could happen to us. We cannot tolerate the thought that we are not safe. And from this weaselly position of “I’d never get myself into that situation”, it’s a short, shameful step to blaming the victim: why does she stay with him? Why does she put up with it?
Violence and Silence May 4, 2013
Excellent TED talk by Jackson Katz, one of the folks behind the bystander approach. Watch it. Then ask your friends to watch it.
Rape conviction rates up, but… April 29, 2013
It was reported last week that conviction rates for rape in the UK are higher than they’ve ever been. 63% of prosecutions in 2012/13 resulted in a conviction, which is 5% more than five years previously. Similar success is reported regarding domestic violence. This is, of course, good news. However, it’s not quite a straightforward success.
First, the ‘conviction’ rate includes all convictions resulting from the prosecution, many of which are not actually for rape (someone might, for example, be tried for rape and convicted of a lesser sexual offence). In 2010/11, the actual rate of conviction for rape was 33% out of an overall conviction rate of 58%. The same is likely to apply to the reported figure for 2012/13.
Second, as the initial linked article points out, another main complaint about the legal process concerns the proportion of reported rapes which result in a prosecution. According to this article, an annual average of 15 670 reports results in an average of 2 910 prosecutions. That’s about 19%. So even if 63% of those 2910 cases result in convictions, that’s a mere 11% of the original reported total. In other words, 89% of reported rapes don’t result in any sort of conviction. Bear in mind that the Crown Prosecution Service recently released a report (pdf) which establishes pretty comprehensively that false allegations of rape are extremely rare.
Third, yet another problem with the legal process is the fact that so many people are discouraged from reporting rape in the first place. For fairly obvious reasons, statistics on under-reporting are hard to come by or verify (one estimate attributed to the Ministry of Justice in the Independent article above is 60 000 to 95 000 — that’s quite a variation between the upper and lower limits). But it’s apparent that this is a problem, and it’s apparent that even if conviction rates continue to increase, there’s a lot more to be done to improve the legal and policing environment which results in under-reporting and under-prosecution.
No More March 13, 2013
This is a new US campaign aimed at ending domestic violence and sexual assault, which is launched today, March 13th.
The next time you’re in a room with 6 people, think about this:
- 1 in 4 women experience violence from their partners in their lifetimes.
- 1 in 3 teens experience sexual or physical abuse or threats from a boyfriend or girlfriend in one year.
- 1 in 6 women are survivors of sexual assault.
- 1 in 5 men have experienced some form of sexual victimization in their lives.
- 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men were sexually abused before the age of 18.
These are not numbers.
They’re our mothers, girlfriends, brothers, sisters, children, co-workers and friends.
They’re the person you confide in most at work, the guy you play basketball with, the people in your book club, your poker buddy, your teenager’s best friend – or your teen, herself.
The silence and shame must end for good.
You can read more about the campaign here.
Some days, I just can’t. January 3, 2013
I do not know how to describe how disturbed, how heartbroken, how frustrated, and most of all, how angry I am at the moment. (Trigger warning for the full story, and especially the video itself. )
A chilling video leaked by an Anonymous cell this week has added a new twist to a sordid tale of alleged rape that has shattered the peace of a close-knit Ohio football town.
The disturbing 12-minute video, posted online Tuesday by the hacktivist group “Knight Sec,” shows teens making jokes about the events that reportedly transpired on Aug. 22.
One teen appears to be refer to the victim as “deader than” Trayvon Martin, and adds, “she is so raped her p**s is about as dry as the sun right now.”
I am horrified by what happened in India. I am also horrified that being charged with rape apparently isn’t much of a detraction from one’s political candidacy there. I am absolutely sick and tired of how rape is treated like a joke, again, and again. I am so far beyond over the way our reverence for athletes and loyalty to our favorite teams enables silencing, suffering, and double standards again, and again, and again. I am tired of victim blaming. I don’t even know where to start on American politicians talking about rape. I am incensed that there was controversy at all about the Violence Against Women Act, and even more so that it wasn’t reauthorized.
I simply don’t have the right words at the moment.
Priest blames women for femicide December 28, 2012
Unfortunately, this is not a story from The Onion. A parish priest in Italy said that women need to engage in some “healthy self-criticism” when it comes to the issue of femicide, and in so doing, displayed that he’s in some serious need of “healthy self-criticism” himself. The text, which he posted on a church bulletin board, said that women’s behavior — everything from not keeping the house clean, “cold meals,” “fast food at home,” “babies left to themselves,” and the way women dress — is to blame for violence against women.
The core of the problem is in the fact that women are more and more provocative, they yield to arrogance, they believe they can do everything themselves and they end up exacerbating tensions.
And Erin Gloria Ryan comments over at Jezebel.
As part of an ongoing campaign to convince everyone to quit being Catholic, an Italian priest used his annual Christmas message to expound on a very Christmasy topic he’d spent many years studying in Priest JuCo — domestic violence. And like most instances when a celibate male Catholic official comments on what women should or should not be doing, it was epically stupid. His advice? Basically, ladies, if you don’t want your husband to kill you, then you should probably stop dressing like such a skank.
Apparently a good amount of international peace and justice activists’ discourse is focused these days on issues about security, protection and self-care. At the same time, it can be difficult for policy makers to have much sense of the immense range of responsibilities women’s lives can involve; plans for a nation can too often neglect or work against women’s interests. In responding to this problem, women working for the security and protection of women in developing countries have, over the last several decades, developed a very nuanced and detailed agenda. It is still evolving, of course, but the recent meeting in Istanbul of the Association of Women’s Rights in Development seems to me to suggest an exciting and maturing convergence of agendas.
There is so much going on; so many questions being raised, so many action plans being developed. Follow through on some of the links from the conference, and see what you think.
I’m told there was not much Western presence. I think that is a situation we should think about critically. Many of the problems being discussed are not regional.