In my work at Positive Women’s Network, one of the things we end up talking about a lot is violence against women. It’s a day to day reality of many of the women living with HIV that we support. Violence shapes many women’s lives, whether it’s historical, or current and ongoing. For some it influenced how they became HIV positive. But of course violence doesn’t just affect women with HIV.
Last week in Canada was the sentencing of three members of a family convicted of killing their own kin. Father, mother and son conspired to kill three daughters and a first wife. The term “honour killing” has been used and quickly refuted- what’s so “honourable” about killing women because they didn’t fit a cultural notion of acceptability? There was also a lot of attention on the community the family was part of, and representatives were quick to point out that this misogynistic killing isn’t acceptable in any shape or form.
In the Montreal Gazette, Naomi Lakritz suggests that using political correctness to call this recent case “domestic violence” just doesn’t cut it. She said the judgment in the case casts aside PC notions and calls it like it is- a horrific, culturally motivated killing that is unacceptable in Canada. She steps on tricky ground, recognizing that it’s easy to slip into racist notions that make divisions between people- but this is about violence. Violence and control of girls and women occurs in every culture all over the world, albeit to different extremes.
A piece from the Globe and Mail a couple of years ago focused on this range of violence– while so-called cultural killings are gruesome and unacceptable, why is it that these family nightmares get the front page when the more frequent family nightmare of a man killing his wife or girlfriend isn’t noticed? Unless it’s particularly grisly, it’s not that interesting news because it happens all the time. Horrific. Point. Made. Yet it’s so common that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently issued a statement urging doctors to screen women for domestic violence.
Violence initiated by males against females is rampant as well as repugnant. The dire extremity of it is death, which happens far too often, publicized or not. But action of controlling a woman’s choices about her clothing, friendships, sexual health and choices in sexual relationships is everywhere in every country and too many homes.
We hope, but can’t can’t assume, any backyard is safe.
Youshouldknow.ca: Sexual health science, culture and news for women edging to middle age, parents and educators. Info on sexually transmitted infections, relationship dynamics, aging and sexual health, and sex education.
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