Ending violence against women remains controversial

Here are some good, basic ideas for fighting violence against women:

1. Violence against intimate partners is not ok.
2. Rape is rape, even within a marriage.
3. Religion, custom and tradition are not excuses for committing acts of violence.
4. Everyone has a right to bodily autonomy and integrity.

Those are the exact ideas that may tank a final communique from the Commission on the Status of Women, thanks primarily to Iran, Russia and the Vatican, but also because of objections and concerns from religious conservatives in the U.S., Egypt and Poland. Good work, guys. You must be very proud.


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
This entry was posted in Discrimination, Domestic Violence, Politics, Rape Culture, Reproductive Rights, Sexual Assault and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

60 Responses to Ending violence against women remains controversial

  1. Karak says:

    Some people are tools.

  2. but also because of objections and concerns from religious conservatives in the U.S.

    Yes, well. What can one expect from a country that also refused to ratify the UN’s charter for children’s rights Because Jeebus*?

    *I can’t actually apply Jesus’ name to that, because as problematic as I find Christianity to be, I can’t actually find any quotes of Jesus saying “and blessed are they who beat the shit out of their kids, for verily they are asserting the rights God and the Founding Fathers gave them to tan those bratty asses”.

  3. matlun says:

    Does anyone have more details on what exactly they are objecting to?

    There was a mention of “reference to abortion rights” which could account for at least the Vatican not being happy, I guess (?)

    This type of news is almost impossible to evaluate without some more specific information about the content than was available in the linked article.

    • matlun says:

      I should have tried harder to look it up myself first.

      The draft document (probably an early version) appears to be available here

  4. Oh, and, you know, I wasn’t going to bring this up because Jill’s article is totally blameless in this, but…

    Some horrific events over the past few months, including the shooting of a Pakistani schoolgirl and the rape and murder of a young Indian physiotherapy student, should have been an alert for the world to unite in preventing violence against women.

    Yes, fascinating how the examples of violence against women come from countries that aren’t among the ones actually resisting this communique. I mean, if they DID want to draw examples of global violence against women while talking about specific countries’ resistance to ending it, why not mention the Steubenville rape and Pussy Riot’s imprisonment instead?

    Oh, right, because violence is a “worldwide epidemic”, but only the brown people’s violence needs showcasing.

    • tomek says:

      macavity you think things that happen in non-white country needs to be not talked about… for anti racism or something? you are moral relativist of the most extreme kind.

      • Willard says:

        I read the comment as the view of the problem being pointed away from the seats of power and dissent and toward where the political narrative is less uncomfortable. You’ve gotta stretch for a claim of sweeping under the rug or relativism (in the OP). Similar to how gun violence in the us is generally disscussed in terms of spree shootings instead of suicide or homicides.

      • Tomek, I am sick of this shit from you. That is a misreading of what she said, so obvious that it could only be deliberate.

      • mxe354 says:

        Echoing this. Go away, tomek.

      • wembley says:

        You know what’s not morally relative? Pancakes. Delicious, delicious pancakes.

      • Alara Rogers says:

        No, I think Macavity thinks that when the countries full of brown people are *not* the ones that are failing to ratify the treaty, talking about their violence against women instead of the violence being committed in countries that are failing to ratify the treaty, like right here in the USA, is disingenuous and actually unfair.

        It’s kind of like, what if some suburban kid shoots up his school and in the article about how terrible school shootings are, all they talk about is urban shootings, ignoring the fact that the specific incident they’re discussing is actually from the suburbs.

        I’m pretty sure Macavity thinks what happened to that poor Indian physiotherapy student and the Pakistani child are horrible, horrible things, but they don’t have a damn thing to do with the issue of failure to ratify the treaty, because it’s not India and Pakistan holding up the bus.

      • I’m pretty sure Macavity thinks what happened to that poor Indian physiotherapy student and the Pakistani child are horrible, horrible things, but they don’t have a damn thing to do with the issue of failure to ratify the treaty, because it’s not India and Pakistan holding up the bus.

        This, thank you.

        It makes about as much sense as my writing a column about innovations in the pie industry and ending it with AND SOME STRAIGHT PEOPLE DON’T LIKE GAY MARRIAGE. I mean, well, yes, some don’t, but that has what to do with pies exactly?

      • Henry says:

        Umm the USA is not holding up the comminique. (It’s also not a treaty, just more feel good aspirational crap that might do something somewhere, at least it’s a start)

        Russia and Iran are (urged on by states and NGOs such as US Conservative Christian groups, (unidentified) Muslim states, The Vatican, Egypt, and Poland – none of whom are members of the current Commission)

        You may find a listing of the Member Nations who sit on the current Commision here: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/CSW57_Membership.pdf How NGOs and other non-state members work with the Commission is here: http://www.unwomen.org/how-we-work/csw/

        So no the US Mission to the UN, currently headed by Susan Rice, is not trying to remove language from the draft, certain member states are: Iran and Russia.

        Expecting the UN to do anything when it includes countries like Russia and Iran on its human rights oriented councils is a bit of a high expectation. Official policy in these countries is to oppress. What did you expect – that they would sign onto a draft that says they have been bad for the past 30+ years?

        The USA has its fair share of despotic religious conservatives, thankfully they are not in charge of the our UN delegation and our Constitution protects the rest of us from their worst motives. The most they can do is rail at the “UN black helicopters” coming to demand they stop beating their wives, but they cannot derail a communique.

      • Past my expiration date says:

        Some horrific events over the past few months, including the shooting of a Pakistani schoolgirl and the rape and murder of a young Indian physiotherapy student, should have been an alert for the world to unite in preventing violence against women.

        So Pakistan and India are holding up the communique, I guess?

        Oh, no, actually, Iran, Russian, the Vatican, and conservatives in the US, Egypt, and Poland are.

        But the author of the editorial decided to put in examples of violence against women in Pakistan and India into the introduction, instead of examples from the countries that are actually holding up the communique, because — well, why?

      • Tomek, why don’t you sit on a spike and spin? My point is so obvious (clearly, because everyone else seems to have got it) that I’m not even going to bother explaining it to you.

      • Alexandra says:

        “Sit on a spike and spin” is a really, really great insult.

        Can we just, as a group, declare Tomek’s performance art piece here at Feministe to be over yet?

      • GallingGalla says:

        I’m wondering if we need a giraffe to take a look at the Tomek situation at this point.

        Tomek was entertaining for a while, but I for one am getting sick and tired of his racist and misogynist spew.

    • amblingalong says:

      While I agree with completely Macativity’s point, the subsequent people suggesting the US is holding up the treaty are misinformed. Some political factions within the US oppose the treaty, but that hasn’t stopped the American delegation from supporting the communique. It’s certainly worth reminding everyone how misogynistic conservative Christian and Muslim institutions are, but the Obama administration and Susan Rice specifically have been solid on this issue.

      • amblingalong says:

        And sorry, scratch word ‘treaty’ from the above post- a UN communique is non-binding and doesn’t do anything.

  5. TomSims says:

    ***Moderator Team note: this post has been formatted to properly indicate that it is quoting somebody else’s writing, and a link to the original article has been added. In future do not quote articles from elsewhere in full! ***

    A new study by the Center for Disease Control reveals that violence against women continues to be a significant problem in the United States, and some of the troubling findings indicate that sexual violence occurs at a high rate.

    According to the national survey, nearly one in five women has been raped or has experienced an attempted rape. The results also found that one in six women has been stalked, and one in four have been reported being beaten by their intimate partner.

    The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey [PDF], conducted by the CDC in 2010, found that the majority of victims encountered rape and sexual assault for the first time in their youth. Of rape victims, 80 percent reported being raped before 25 and nearly half of female victims said they were raped before they turned 18.

    According to the New York Times, the study also linked being raped at an early age with being more likely to be raped in adulthood–about 35 percent of women who had been raped as minors also reported rapes as adults.

    This study also recorded other types of domination like psychological aggressions, coercion, and control of reproductive and sexual health—factors that had not been previously considered when conducting such surveys.

    Women who were sexually assaulted also reported having more physical and mental health problems, ranging from asthma to diabetes to irritable bowel syndrome. The majority of victims reported symptoms that are typically associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

    In the majority of cases, female victims said they were raped by someone they knew—either an intimate partner or an acquaintance.

    According to the Times, the study’s “broad” definition of rape—completed forced penetration, forced penetration, facilitated by drugs and alcohol, or attempted forced penetration—calculated that one percent of the women surveyed were raped last year, suggesting that as many as 1.3 million women could have been raped in 2010.

    That number is considerably high when compared to the Department of Justice’s estimate that around 188,000 women were raped last year. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s statistics indicate that there were just fewer than 85,000 assaults defined as forcible rapes reported in 2010.

    Those low figures indicate that the common definition of rape may be too narrow, or that many victims are afraid to report such violence.

    Earlier this month, the FBI expanded its definition of rape from “carnal knowledge of a female forcible and against her will” to include “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

    Naima Ramos-Chapman is an associate editor at Campus Progress.

    • Henry says:

      Spillover?

    • TomSims says:

      Facts and Statistics about Rape and Sexual Assault
      (From Bureau of Justice Statistics, Criminal Victimization, 2010, National Crime Victimization Survey: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv10.pdf)

      In 2010 there were 188,380 reports of rape and/or sexual assault in the United States.

      More than half of rape and sexual assault crimes take place between 6pm and 6am.

      Females are more likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault (182,000) than males (40,000).

      Most victims of rape or sexual assault are females younger than 24 years of age.

      Most rapes committed against women are committed by an intimate partner (spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend) or someone else they know (friend, family member, acquaintance).

      http://www.safehorizon.org/index/what-we-do-2/rape–sexual-assault-64.html

      • chataya says:

        Are you actually going to contribute to this conversion, or are you just going to keep enlightening us women-folk with copypasta?

      • Henry says:

        indeed, like we kinda already know all this stuff….and it’s really off topic to.

  6. mxe354 says:

    I’m deeply ashamed that I actually used to give these assholes the benefit of doubt by assuming that they don’t mean to be extremely misogynistic.

    This shit needs to end. Now.

  7. tinfoil hattie says:

    I hate religion, and it’s because all religions (except Wicca, and maybe UU and Unity, as far as I know) have hatred of women as their foundations. I hate religious “exclusions” for things like vaccinations. I hate “God” on U.S. currency and in courtroom oaths, prayer in the U.S. House ofe Representatives and Senate, religious swearing-in of U.S. presidents, that stupid annual Supreme Court Catholic Mass, and most of all, worldwide pandering to men “of God” at the expense of women and girls.

  8. tinfoil hattie says:

    I hate religion, and it’s because all religions (except Wicca, and maybe UU and Unity, as far as I know) have hatred of women as their foundations. I hate religious “exclusions” for things like vaccinations. I hate “God” on U.S. currency and in courtroom oaths, prayer in the U.S. House ofe Representatives and Senate, religious swearing-in of U.S. presidents, that stupid annual Supreme Court Catholic Mass, and most of all, worldwide pandering to men “of God” at the expense of women and girls.

    • trees says:

      I hate religion, and it’s because all religions (except Wicca, and maybe UU and Unity, as far as I know) have hatred of women as their foundations.

      Is this meant as hyperbole? Surely you don’t think all religions (particularly indigenous systems) in the history of human culture are based in misogyny.

      • tinfoil hattie says:

        Of course I do. Even indigenous religions have “gendered” roles for various spiritual figures.

      • Alexandra says:

        Are we treating all distinctions based on gender as equivalent to misogyny?

        I’m an atheist, and my knowledge of world religions beyond the basics of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam is so skimpy that I would never go so far as to claim that all are routed in misogyny. I’m surprised you feel comfortable making such sweeping generalizations. I’m not sure I’d make generalizations like that even about the three religions I mentioned by name, given that religious women throughout time have been reinventing and reclaiming religious texts and rituals for their own purposes.

      • tinfoil hattie says:

        Well, Alexandra, I disagree. Show me the evidence of a pro-woman religion, that is practiced on a wide basis, that has real political influence in the world.

        The religions that oppose the communique all hate women. Or they wouldn’t oppose the communique.

    • wembley says:

      Replied to you over in spillover.

  9. a lawyer says:

    The odd thing is that if you said this:

    1. Violence against intimate partners is not ok.
    2. Rape is rape, even within a marriage.
    3. Religion, custom and tradition are not excuses for committing acts of violence.
    4. Everyone has a right to bodily autonomy and integrity.

    A lot of people would agree with you.

    It’s just that they use DIFFERENT DEFINITIONS for “violence against intimate partners,” “rape,” “acts of violence,” “”bodily autonomy,” and “integrity.”

    I.e. “Yes, I’m against violence. Of course!”
    And then, later in the conversation, “…but beating your wife with a belt isn’t violent, it’s just normal discipline.”

    or

    “yes, of course everyone deserves bodily autonomy”
    And then, later in the conversation, “…but when you’re talking about murder of a baby, that is more important, so no Plan B.”

    and so on.

    headdesk.

    • yes says:

      Agreed. It kind of reminds me of those embarrassing “feminism is the radical idea that women are people” stickers that you see here and there.

      • Past my expiration date says:

        Why embarrassing?

      • Andie says:

        The fact that they are even necessary? I find that kind of embarrassing. But alas, they are.

      • yes says:

        Because any definition of feminism that applies to Rush Limbaugh is stupid.

      • Past my expiration date says:

        Rush Limbaugh believes women are people? Citation please.

      • yes says:

        No, he does. Accept it. If you can’t acknowledge that he, and virtually every other misogynistic pisshat like him, believes woman are people, then you’re just playing cute games and there’s no talking to you.

        Does he believe women deserve the rights and respect due to them? Of course not. But now you’re redefining “believes are human beings” as “holds views on the value, rights and welfare of women that I find convincing and moral.”

        This is where the obnoxious bickering over definitions comes in.

      • tigtog says:

        You are conflating “human beings” with “people” in a way that bigots do not.

        There are legal and philosophical definitions of personhood which are being referenced in that slogan you hate, and appreciation of those philosophical aspects in particular is missing from vast swathes of the culture war rhetoric about women. If you are ignorant of these aspects, and how racist, sexist and classist bigots routinely dismiss the personhood of non-White people and women and the poor while never denying their status as human beings, perhaps getting up to speed might be a good idea before knocking a slogan which makes people ask the very important question of what “people” fully means.

      • matlun says:

        @tigtog: What definition of the word “people” are you thinking about?

        I am with yes when it comes to that slogan.
        AFAIK there is no generally accepted definition of the word where only feminists believe women are people.

      • tigtog says:

        Never said that only feminists believe women are people, just that bigots of all stripes tend treat Others as de-individuated masses.

      • tigtog says:

        P.S. it’s probably time that this side-discussion moved to #spillover if folks want to continue it.

      • yes says:

        Thank you for demonstrating my point, and doing it in what passes for a moderately polite and lettered way around here.

    • mxe354 says:

      No, those people disagree with the propositions themselves. They only agree with the following propositions (at least tacitly):

      1. Violence against intimate partners is not ok when it’s not inline with religious teachings.
      2. Rape is rape, but marital rape isn’t a crime.
      3. Religion, custom and tradition are excuses for committing acts of violence so long as they are based on truth.
      4. Everyone has a right to full bodily autonomy and integrity except pregnant people.

      They don’t have different definitions. They simply disagree with the controversial propositions listed in the OP; that’s because the anti-feminist propositions are completely antithetical to the idea that rape is always wrong, the idea that religion and culture aren’t excuses for violence, the idea that domestic abuse is never justifiable, and the idea that everyone has the right to full bodily autonomy and integrity.

  10. Hannah says:

    I’m just gonna sit here facepalming in the corner, weeping for my faith in humanity which has developped a terminal illness

  11. Henry says:

    I’m more interested in what the objections are and who specifically is making them. I cringe when a government (as opposed to some cult) takes on a policy advocating violence. I expect governments, even in unstable countries, to at least hold on paper to certain principles. You can also have a super oppressive government (e.g. Russia) that does not condone violence at the individual level.

    • Evan Carden says:

      I stumbled over the Muslim Brotherhood’s statement on the issue:

      http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=30731

      It’s pretty bad, focusing on objections to LGBT rights, contraception and anything that disagrees with their interpretation of Islamic Law, eg equal inheritance, shifting divorce to civil authorities, permitting interreligious marriage, not requiring the husband’s permission to work/travel.

      The reason put forward for why these are bad things follows:

      “That title, however, is misleading and deceptive. The document includes articles that contradict established principles of Islam, undermine Islamic ethics and destroy the family, the basic building block of society, according to the Egyptian Constitution.

      This declaration, if ratified, would lead to complete disintegration of society, and would certainly be the final step in the intellectual and cultural invasion of Muslim countries, eliminating the moral specificity that helps preserve cohesion of Islamic societies.”

      THIS IS NOT MY POSITION.

      • Henry says:

        Thanks Evan, long live the complete disintegration of oppressive societies. The Brotherhood got that part right at least.

      • mxe354 says:

        I hate the MB so fucking much. I’ve heard nothing good from that group. Their agenda is scary and completely antithetical to that of progressive ideologies.

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