Louise Livesey // 16 November 2008
Why is Germaine Greer writing about Michelle Obama’s dress? Did I miss something? Is this really contemporary feminist analysis? The mind boggles.
Mind it does that a lot, not least with this advertising campaign from the RSPCA Australia (warning distressing for some viewers). Their new advertising gimmick – showing a woman being beaten with an overlaid soundtrack of a dog whimpering. Their argument – you wouldn’t ignore violence against women so why ignore violence against dogs. Shame they fail to spot the major flaw in that argument – violence against women is ignored by some and by others is condoned. (Hap tip to Hoyden About Town for that one). Lets put the RSPCA’s idea about violence against women against these survey results from the White Ribbon campaign in Australia which found that:
- One in seven teenage boys think it is OK to make a girl have sex with them, if she has been flirting with them.
- 22% of young people had witnessed their fathers being violent towards their mothers
- one in every three boys believe it is not a “big deal to hit a girl”.
- 58 per cent had witnessed their father/stepfather yell loudly at their mother/stepmother, 28 per cent had witnessed acts of humiliation and 8 per cent had seen their father/stepfather stop their mother/stepmother seeing her family or friends.
Meanwhile in the DRC, women radio journalists are campaigning against the stigmatisation of rape survivors using their own medium. The issue is that after rape women may be rejected by their husbands, babies rejected by families and communities assume that the woman is “dirty” or has HIV-AIDS. Rape victims may also be treated as adultresses rather than victims. The project by the journalist is simple:
“We try to get raped women to speak up and put them on the airwaves so that the entire community understands that rape is a crime,” says Julienne Baseke, a 29-year-old sociology graduate of Bukavu University who leads the group’s monthly reporting efforts. “We educate. If a woman knows her rights then the situation can change. If she doesn’t, women’s rights are at men’s mercy.”
The group, the South Kivu Women’s Media Association, has been taping testimonies from women for two years and has released cassettes and CDs telling the stories of 100 women for use as public education tools.
And two stories on the disability front – one identifying the additional difficulties disabled women face in disclosing sexual crimes. These include
1. Ideas about WWD being particularly asexual, undesirable, dishonest, or promiscuous.
2. Inability of victims to identify their experience as grooming and sexual assault, due to lack of protective-behaviour and sexual education. (Issues of sexual agency are also touched on in the report.)
3. Punitive institutional responses to reports, including moving the victim rather than the assaulter, or locking victims in their rooms.
4. Dependence on perpetrators can leave victims unable to disclose because their care needs will no longer be met.
5. Communication difficulty, both practical and situational, related to disability or to physical and social isolation. Family carers or residential management act as gate-keepers and decision-makers, taking the power to report out of victims’ hands. Carers and workers lack training in appropriate responses to reporting.
And the other about our very own Marks and Spencer banning a disabled woman from their stores because she rung the emergency alarm in the disabled toilets. The woman was then told that:
“staff were not trained to deal with her and workers were being put at risk,” she received a letter stating that “You are not permitted to enter into any of our stores again. If you choose to ignore this notice you will be asked to leave.”
M&S has since said this letter, a trespass order rescinding her right to enter the stories, was mistakenly given to her. All I can say is “This isn’t just disability discrimination, this is M&S Disability Discrimination”.