Education and Beyond

Violence Against Women and Girls Need to Stop

As a woman, it’s distressing and fearful to read about other women and girls being victims of any kind. No one should be a victim, yet, violence against women and girls are much more prevalent and things need to be done to stop it.

Why do we have to live like this? Why do we have to put up with any of this? Aren’t we human, too? Aren’t we the ones who bring life into this world?

Patriarchy only harms women, so we need to return every patriarchal society to a matriarchal one. Every boy, young man, and man can change and learn. Men are a vital part of this change and solution. Respect for the the opposite sex is required; without respect, everything goes downhill.

Below are three articles that led me to post this. I’ve linked the original article in each title.

‘We Don’t Want To Die’: Women In Turkey Decry Rise In Violence And Killings

September 15, 2019


Emine Dirican, a beautician from Istanbul, tried to be a good wife. But her husband hated that she worked, that she socialized, even that she wanted to leave the house sometimes without him.

She tried to reason with him. He lashed out.

“One time, he tied me — my hands, my legs from the back, like you do to animals,” recalls Dirican, shuddering. “He beat me with a belt and said, ‘You’re going to listen to me, you’re going to obey whatever I say to you.’ “

She left him and moved in with her parents. In January, he showed up, full of remorse and insisting he had changed. She let him in.

In her mother’s kitchen, he grabbed her by the hair, threw her to the floor and pulled out a gun.

“He shot me,” she says. “Then he went back to my mom and he pulled the trigger again, but the gun was stuck. So he hit her head with the back of the gun.”

Her father, who was in another room in the house, heard the gunshots and ran over. Dirican almost bled to death after a bullet ripped through a main artery in one of her legs.

“I was telling my father, ‘Daddy, please, I don’t want to die.’ “

Femicide — killing women because of their gender — is a longstanding issue in Turkey. Nearly 300 women have been killed so far this year, according to the Istanbul-based advocacy group We Will Stop Femicide, which has been tracking gender-related deaths since Turkish authorities stopped doing so in 2009.

The group — widely considered an authoritative source on violence against women — compiles its data from news stories and emails from the families of women killed. It says more than 2,600 women have been murdered since 2010, most of them by their partners.

Since 2011, the year Turkey became the first country to sign and ratify a Council of Europe convention on preventing domestic violence, We Will Stop Femicide’s data shows a steady increase every year in the number of killings, with 121 women murdered in 2011 and nearly four times that number, 440, in 2018.

“Men can’t accept that Turkey is a modern country where women have rights,” says Fidan Ataselim, the group’s general secretary. “Some of these men don’t even think we have the right to live.”

Last month, Ataselim led protests in Istanbul after Emine Bulut, a 38-year-old in central Turkey, was killed in a café by her ex-husband, who slit Bulut’s throat in front of their 10-year-old daughter. Bulut’s murder was captured on video and shared widely on social media. In the video, she is heard screaming, “I don’t want to die!” Thousands of women in the protest echoed Bulut, chanting: “We don’t want to die.”

“If they disobey him, he is emasculated”

Emine Dirican’s husband was convicted of simple assault and is now free, awaiting final sentencing. He has appealed his verdict. So has Dirican, who wants him tried for attempted murder.

Lawyers for women in cases like hers say Turkey has strong laws against abuse. They’re just not being enforced.

In her no-frills Istanbul office stacked with case files of domestic abuse victims and survivors, lawyer Hulya Gulbahar pulls out a folder filled with statistics from 2009 — the last year Turkey’s conservative government, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, kept records on domestic violence.

That year, she said, the Justice Ministry initially recorded the killings of 953 women in the first seven months of the year — then revised it to 171 for the entire year.

“The government ignores the problem because they’re complicit,” she says. “Politicians imply that men and women are not equal, that women are given by God to man to care for. They want a family controlled by men, where everyone in the family obeys the men.”

And male honor depends on women’s obedience and men’s control of women’s sexuality, says gender studies scholar Fatmagul Berktay, a professor emeritus of political science at Istanbul University.

“It can be a daughter, it can be a wife, it can even be their own mother,” Berktay says. “If they disobey him, he is emasculated.”

In Europe and the United States, she says, women die in “passion killings.” In Turkey, she says, “the men claim it’s about honor. The problem is the same — women are not valued.”

Lawyer Ozlem Ozkan, also in Istanbul, sees how authorities treat her clients.

“Women who have been beaten go to the police and are told, don’t file a complaint, it will just make your husband angry,” she says. “I’ve heard with my own ears lawyers telling women who have survived domestic violence, ‘Well, maybe you just want a divorce because you have a lover.’ “

Turkey doesn’t have enough state or municipal-run women’s shelters, she says — only 142 in a country of more than 80 million. Ozkan says the government calls them guesthouses because the word “shelter,” she says, “expresses an immediate danger and the need for protection.”

Beyond this, “The state does not favor real solutions to stop violence against women and children,” she says. “Although women are subjected to violence, it does not want the family to break up.”

Ozkan volunteers at at a women’s rights organization, Mor Cati, or Purple Roof, that runs a private shelter. Mor Cati grew out of a 1987 protest over a male judge turning down a woman’s divorce petition by saying, “A little whip on the back or on the belly is of no harm to women.”

The shelter’s welcome center is located off a busy shopping street in Istanbul. Children’s drawings of hearts and houses fill the walls. Stuffed animals line the shelves.

“Many women bring their children,” says one of the volunteers, Elif, who declines to give her last name because the shelter receives threats from the partners of women it protects. “They can’t leave their children with family,” she says, because relatives often push the women to stay with violent husbands.

“Because of the social norms here,” she says, “they think violence can be OK, why are you crushing your family?”

Blaming the victims

That mindset — that violence is OK — has hardened among many Turkish men, “rural, urban, religious, secular, educated,” says Berktay, the gender studies scholar. At the same time, Turkish women are exercising their rights — including the right to work, speak up, divorce.

“Women are pushing for their rights, and they’re making an issue out of domestic violence,” she says. “Women are awakening.”

Turkish leaders are noticing. After Emine Bulut’s killing in August, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu blamed “male violence” for her death. A popular soccer team observed a moment of silence in Bulut’s memory. Erdogan even hinted at reinstating the death penalty for men who kill their wives.

Ataselim of We Will Stop Femicide says Erdogan’s tough talk misses the point.

“High-ranking members of this government say things like women should not laugh too loudly, as if this encourages men to attack us,” she says. “Domestic violence never happens because there’s a problem with the woman. The men are killing. They are the problem.”

Istanbul jewelry shop owner Hilmi Bilgin doesn’t entirely agree, though he has two grown daughters. “I would say it’s 70% the fault of men and 30% the fault of women,” he says. “Women make it worse for themselves by either being meek, which makes men feel more aggressive, or they overreact, which triggers the men.”

“This is not what honor looks like”

Istanbul-based attorney Selin Nakipoglu has spent years facing off with men in court who say they were provoked into killing their wives.

“They show up in court wearing suits and ties, saying they’re sorry but ‘honor’ made them do it,” she says. “And the judges let [them] get away with it.”

Relatives of victims sometimes call Nakipoglu to the scene of the crimes. She remembers finding one young mother lying in her kitchen after the woman’s husband stabbed her repeatedly in the heart. He thought she’d been cheating on him. Her two young sons found her.

“I still see her face,” Nakipoglu says, her eyes filling with tears.

The woman’s husband threatened Nakipoglu in court. He’s not the only one.

“I get emails and phone calls saying, ‘I will find you and rape you and kill you,'” she says. “I’m not scared. But my clients are dead.”

Emine Dirican’s estranged husband is free until another hearing scheduled for next month. She rarely leaves her parents’ home. Every day, she hears about another woman being killed.

“Enough,” she says. “This is not what honor looks like.”

NPR Istanbul producer Gokce Saracoglu contributed reporting.

‘Tip Of The Iceberg’ — 1 In 16 Women Reports First Sexual Experience As Rape

September 16, 2019


More than 3 million women experienced rape as their first sexual encounter, according to a new study, which surveyed women ages 18 to 44 in the U.S. The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that most respondents were adolescents when they were raped. It also found that these women were more likely to suffer worse long-term health outcomes than women who had sex voluntarily the first time.

“It’s quite alarming, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg because this study is only including women aged 18 to 44,” says Dr. Laura Hawks, the main author of the new study and a research fellow at the Cambridge Health Alliance, a health care provider in Cambridge, Mass. “You can imagine that if we asked this of women of all ages, the absolutely number would be many millions higher.”

Another reason this might be an underestimate, she adds, is that the data used in the study was collected before the #MeToo movement, which has led to more open conversations around sexual violence. “More women may feel more comfortable identifying their experiences of sexual violence today than they did just a few years ago,” she says.

Hawks and her team looked at data from an annual survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the National Survey of Family Growth, that asks women ages 18 to 44 about their first sexual experience, whether it was voluntary and their age when they first had sex, among other questions. This is one of the few studies to look at the prevalence of rape as one’s first sexual experience at the national level in the United States.

About 6.5% women — an estimated 3.3 million nationwide — said that their first sexual experience was rape.

The average age of most victims was about 15 when they were assaulted. The average age of their partner, or the assailant, was 27, Hawks notes. This suggests a “major power discrepancy” and, possibly, a difference in physical size as well, she says.

More than 26% said they were physically threatened during the encounter, 46% said they were physically held down. Over half (56%) of them said they were verbally pressured into having sex, and 16% said that their partner threatened to end the relationship if they didn’t have sex. These forms of coercion were not mutually exclusive.

“The definition of rape is any sexual encounter that’s unwanted or nonconsensual,” Hawks says. “And when a [woman or girl] is coerced into having sex that she doesn’t want to have, that is still considered a rape.”

The study shows that emotional or verbal coercion is also traumatic for girls and women, not only physical threats, says Carolyn Gibson, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco, who wasn’t involved in the study but wrote an accompanying commentary about the findings and their implications.

“These emotional experiences and pressures are incredibly problematic,” she says.

This study highlights the sexual trauma resulting from coerced sex, says Dr. Alison Huang, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco, who co-authored the commentary with Gibson. She says in some ways, women who are verbally coerced “feel more shamed, isolated and traumatized, because of the extent to which their experiences are not endorsed by others, or regarded sympathetically by others.”

Sexual violence, say Hawks, is really about “a power imbalance between women and men.”

The new study finds that women who experienced rape as their first sexual experience were more likely to have a range of health problems, including unwanted first pregnancies, abortions, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease and poor overall health.

“One of the strongest and most persistent associations was among women who reported painful gynecologic or painful pelvic conditions,” Hawks says.

One survey question also asked the women if they had difficulty completing tasks because of a physical or mental health condition, and women who had been raped were more likely to answer yes compared with women who had sex voluntarily the first time.

“I do believe that this is an issue that urgently needs to be addressed,” Hawk adds. “Because every week, thousands of women are experiencing rape as their first sexual experience.”

“It’s an important wake-up call that this [kind of experience] can be associated with adverse health outcomes relatively early in life,” says Huang. “It poses a lot of questions about what happens to women later in life. It’s very possible that the negative effects of forced sexual initiation may persist or show more in time.”

Health problems associated with prior sexual trauma aren’t on “the radar of clinicians,” Huang adds. The findings suggest that clinicians should be screening women for sexual violence and asking them about their first sexual experience, she says.

“It’s important to understand that these are extremely personal and sensitive questions and that they need to be asked in an extremely sensitive way,” Hawks says.

And clinicians need to be trained to understand how sexual trauma might manifest into physical conditions, she adds. “We should really become better practitioners of trauma-informed care, which is a practice of incorporating exposure to prior trauma experienced by the patient into the treatment plan.”

Myanmar troops’ sexual violence against Rohingya shows ‘genocidal intent’: U.N. report

Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Sexual violence committed by Myanmar troops against Rohingya women and girls in 2017 indicated the military’s genocidal intent to destroy the mainly Muslim ethnic minority, United Nations investigators said in a report released on Thursday.

The panel of independent investigators, set up by the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2017, accused Myanmar’s government of failing to hold anyone accountable and said it was responsible “under the Genocide Convention for its failure to investigate and punish acts of genocide”.

A military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state that began in August 2017 drove more than 730,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh. Myanmar denies widespread wrongdoing and says the military campaign across hundreds of villages in northern Rakhine was in response to attacks by Rohingya insurgents.

“Hundreds of Rohingya women and girls were raped, with 80 per cent of the rapes corroborated by the Mission being gang rapes. The Tatmadaw (Myanmar military) was responsible for 82 per cent of these gang rapes,” the report said.

At a news conference in Myanmar on Friday, military spokesman Major-General Tun Tun Nyi called the accusations “groundless” and based on “talking stories”.

“I cannot read out what they mentioned in their report, because it is not suitable to say in front of women in polite society,” he said.

Myanmar has laws against sexual assault, he added, and soldiers were warned against it at military schools.

“If you look at these experts, don’t they know our country’s law or respect it?” he asked.

The Myanmar government has refused entry to the U.N. investigators. The investigators traveled to refugee camps in Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia, and met with aid groups, think-tanks, academics and intergovernmental organizations.

In an August 2018 report, the investigators laid out five indicators of genocidal intent by the Myanmar military: the use of derogatory language; specific comments by government officials, politicians, religious authorities and military commanders prior, during and after the violence; the existence of discriminatory plans and policies; evidence of an organized plan of destruction; and the extreme brutality of the campaign.

“The mission now concludes on reasonable grounds that the sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls that began on 25 August 2017 was a sixth factor that indicated the Tatmadaw’s genocidal intent to destroy the Rohingya people,” the new report said.

The conclusion was based on “the widespread and systematic killing of women and girls, the systematic selection of women and girls of reproductive ages for rape, attacks on pregnant women and on babies, the mutilation and other injures to their reproductive organs, the physical branding of their bodies by bite marks on their cheeks, neck, breast and thigh.”

It said that two years later no military commanders had been held accountable for these and other crimes under international law and that the government “notoriously denies responsibility.”

“Myanmar’s top two military officials remain in their positions of power despite the mission’s call for them to be investigated and, if appropriate, prosecuted for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide,” the panel said.

The investigators said they had collected new information about alleged perpetrators and added their names to a confidential list to be given to U.N. Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet and another U.N. inquiry charged with collecting and preserving evidence for possible future trials.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Leslie Adler and Clarence Fernandez

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