Violence against women and girls is state-sanctioned terrorism

Man Haron Monis was placed on a two-year “good behaviour bond” in 2013 after writing a series of offensive letters to families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan. He was then charged as an accessory in the murder of his ex-wife Noleen Hayson. Monis was released on bail. Since then, he has appeared twice in court on 40 sexual assault offences. Magistrate William Pierce, who originally granted Monis bail, said he did not represent a threat to the public. He was not deemed a threat at subsequent hearings. Now, two more people are dead following Monis’ siege of a café.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is asking if the hostage taking could have been prevented. The answer to this question is yes, but not for the reasons Abbott is suggesting. Had Monis’ clear history of multiple counts of sexual violence been taken seriously, he would not have been granted bail. Monis was not considered a risk to the public because we still define public to mean men.

Monis was charged with 40 separate sexual offences and was still not deemed a threat to the general public. This is the reality of rape culture: systemic violence against women is simply not considered a problem. We need to start using the term terrorism to define male violence and we need to start recognising that women are human too. Until we do, men like Monis will continue to perpetrate these crimes, which are not ‘isolated incidents’ but systemic, state-sanctioned terrorism against women and girls.

November 25 is the International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women – not White Ribbon Day

November 25th was first chosen as the date for an annual day of protest of male violence in 1981. This occurred at the first Feminist Conference for Latin American and Caribbean Women in Bogota. It was chosen in memory of Patria, Maria Teresa and Minerva Mirabel.

The Mirabel sisters were political activists who fought the fascist government of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. They stood up to a genocidal regime that used torture, rape and kidnapping and they were murdered for it. This is why November 25th was chosen as an international day of activism that “denounced all forms men’s violence against women from domestic violence, rape and sexual harassment to state violence including torture and abuse of women political prisoners.”

November 25th received official recognition as an international day to raise awareness of violence against women from United Nations on December 17, 1999.

None of this information is out with the public realm. Even Wikipedia, not known for its accuracy, manages to get the facts right. Yet, November 25th is rarely referred to as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women anymore. Instead, it is called White Ribbon day after a campaign started by men in Canada.

The origins of the White Ribbon campaign are important. It was created by pro-feminist men in 1991 in response to the massacre of women at the Polytechnique in Montreal on December 6 1989. A man killed 14 women because they were women. Men stood up to take responsibility for men’s violence. We need men to take responsibility for the violence they perpetuate and perpetrate.

Yet, somehow, White Ribbon no longer occurs on December 6th (although still recognised in Canada as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women). Now, White Ribbon day is November 25th – a day started by women of colour in Latin American and the Caribbean about the murder of 3 women in the Dominican Republic.

As Karen Ingala Smith points out, there is something extremely questionable about an event created by white men eclipsing a day of action and remembrance created by women of colour. It is quite surprising just how many men involved in the White Ribbon campaign don’t know the origins or the actual date of their own campaign. One even ran a panel at Feminism in London and looked shocked that no women’s organisation had raised the issue before. The fact that men just hadn’t been listening (or bothered to google) didn’t seem to occur to him.

White Ribbon Day is December 6th. Co-opting a day celebrating the activism and work of women to make it all about the men – and check out this comment from a white ribbon ‘supporter’ – isn’t about men taking responsibility for their role in supporting a global war against women. It’s about being seen to be doing something.

These are the names of the women murdered at the Polytechnique:

  • Geneviève Bergeron
  • Hélène Colgan
  • Nathalie Croteau
  • Barbara Daigneault
  • Anne-Marie Edward
  • Maud Haviernick
  • Maryse Laganière
  • Maryse Leclair
  • Anne-Marie Lemay
  • Sonia Pelletier
  • Michèle Richard
  • Annie St-Arneault
  • Annie Turcotte
  • Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz

The anniversary of their massacre deserves to be remembered. Their names deserve to be remembered – as do the names of Patria, Maria Teresa and Minerva Mirabel. We need to remember all the women who are raped, tortured, abused, and killed by men. And, we need to remember all the women who stood up and said enough.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women isn’t about men. Speaking over and erasing women’s activism isn’t proof that men are committed to ending violence against women and girls. It’s just the opposite.

THE ORIGIN AND IMPORTANCE OF THE TERM FEMICIDE by Diana E.H Russell

This article appears on Diana E.H Russell’s website. You can find more of her work here.
I first heard this word … in 1974 when a friend in London told me that she had heard that a woman in the United States was planning to write a book titled “Femicide”. I immediately became very excited by this new word, seeing it as a substitute for the gender-neutral word “homicide.”

I first used the term femicide in public when I testified to the approximately 2,000 women from 40 countries who attended the first International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women, in Brussels, Belgium, in 1976. Here is a photo of the female-only participants attending this groundbreaking global speak-out, some of whom also testified about other crimes against women. We, the organizers, used the term “crimes” to refer to any and all forms of patriarchal and sexist oppression of females.

Belgian feminist Nicole Van de Ven and I compiled a book about this event, including all the testimony, which we titled Crimes Against Women: The Proceedings of the International Tribunal, which was published in 1976. Used copies of this book are still available on Amazon.com.

Incidentally, when I finally discovered that Carol Orlock was the author who had planned to write a book on femicide, but had never done so, she told me that she couldn’t recall how she had defined femicide. She also expressed delight that I had succeeded in resurrecting this term that now promises to eventually raise global awareness of the misogynist character of most murders of women and girls, as well as mobilizing women to combat these lethal hate crimes against us.

When I testified about femicide at the International Tribunal, I defined it implicitly as a hate killing of females perpetrated by males. For example, I stated that:

“From the burning of witches in the past, to the more recent widespread custom of female infanticide in many societies, to the killing of women for so-called honor, we realize that femicide has been going on a long time.”

Just as murders targeting African Americans and/or other minority groups, are differentiated by those that are racist and those that are not, so must murders targeting females be differentiated by those that are femicides and those that are not. When the gender of the victim is irrelevant to the perpetrator, the murder qualifies as a non-femicidal crime.

After making minor changes in my definition of femicide over the years, I finally defined it very simply as “the killing of females by males because they are female.” I’ll repeat this definition: “the killing of females by males because they are female.” I use the term “female” instead of “women” to emphasize that my definition includes baby girls and older girls. However, the term femicide does not include the increasingly widespread practice of aborting female fetuses, particularly in India and China. The correct term for this sexist practice is female feticide.

Examples of femicide include the stoning to death of females (which I consider a form of torture-femicide); murders of females for so-called “honor;” rape murders; murders of women and girls by their husbands, boyfriends, and dates, for having an affair, or being rebellious, or any number of other excuses; wife-killing by immolation because of too little dowry; deaths as a result of genital mutilations; female sex slaves, trafficked females, and prostituted females, murdered by their “owners”, traffickers, “johns” and pimps, and females killed by misogynist strangers, acquaintances, and serial killers.

There is a continuum of femicides ranging from one-on-one sexist murders, e.g., a man strangling his wife because she plans to leave him; to one or more males killing a group of women for, say, refusing to wear the correct attire in public; to the other end of the continuum, for example, mass femicides such as when preference for male children results in the killing, or death from neglect, of millions of female babies and girls, as in India and China.

My definition of femicide also includes covert forms of the killing of females, such as when patriarchal governments and religions forbid women’s use of contraception and/or obtaining abortions. Consequently, millions of pregnant women die every year from botched attempts to abort their fetuses. And when promiscuous AIDS-infected males continue to feel entitled to have sex with their wives, girl friends, and/or prostituted women and girls, their sexist behavior causes the death of millions of these women and girls. So do AIDS-infected males who refuse to wear condoms to protect their female sex partners and the females whom they rape, including the common practice in parts of Southern Africa where many males rape babies — including their own daughters — believing that these barbaric acts will cure them of AIDS. Hence, I consider AIDS resulting in the deaths of females to be a form of mass femicide.

Some people might wonder why I decided to use the invented word femicide instead of some other term like gender-discriminatory-murders. First of all, gender discrimination is not specific about which gender is a victim of discriminatory murder. In addition, the prefix “fem” connotes female, and “icide” connotes killing — as in terms like homicide, suicide, genocide, patricide, matricide, infanticide. More importantly, the excitement I felt when I first heard the new word femicide caused me to intuit that other feminists would likely share my response.

Just as U.S. Professor Catharine MacKinnon’s invention of the new feminist term sexual harassment was necessary before laws against these crimes could be formulated, so I believed that inventing a new term for sexist/misogynist killings of females was necessary for feminists to start organizing to combat these heretofore neglected lethal forms of violence against women and girls. Still today in the United States, where rates of violence against women are extremely high, most feminist organizations set up to combat violence against women, continue to ignore the most extreme form of it, that is, the murder of women.

….

I’d like to begin my conclusion by quoting a slightly edited version of a paragraph of the testimony on femicide that I delivered at the International Tribunal in 1976.  These words followed my reading descriptions of 17 examples of femicides that had occurred recently in San Francisco, in the Unites States — where men’s murders of their wives are by far the most frequent form of femicide.

Men tell us not to take a morbid interest in these atrocities.  The epitome of triviality is alleged to be a curiosity about “the latest rape and the latest murder.”  The murder and mutilation of a woman is not considered a political event.  Men tell us that they cannot be blamed for what a few maniacs do.  Yet the very process of denying the politics of this form of terrorizing women helps to perpetuate it, keeps us weak, vulnerable, and fearful.  These are the twentieth century witch burnings.  The so-called “maniacs” who commit these atrocities are acting out the logical conclusion of the woman-hatred which pervades all the patriarchal cultures in the world.

 More recently, increasing numbers of male leaders in several countries order their armies and supporters to perpetrate mass rape-and-mutilation femicides as a deliberate strategy in their patriarchal wars.  If increasing numbers of women and our male allies don’t succeed in organizing effective strategies against femicide, the already epidemic prevalence of femicides in almost all countries will escalate even more.

We must demand that the United Nations recognize that large numbers of males are engaged in a war against women and girls in which many of us are terrorized into submission.  National and international efforts must be made to assist feminists in ending this war — including by implementing severe punishments for the millions of perpetrators of femicide, just as the perpetrators of genocide are prosecuted for their murderous acts.

Je Me Souviens

Geneviève Bergeron

Hélène Colgan

Nathalie Croteau

Barbara Daigneault

Anne-Marie Edward

Maud Haviernick

Maryse Laganière

Maryse Leclair

Anne-Marie Lemay

Sonia Pelletier

Michèle Richard

Annie St-Arneault

Annie Turcotte

Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz

Dear Ally Fogg, Start your own Counting Dead Men Project …

Dear Ally Fogg,

Please start your own Start your own Counting Dead Men Project. I am so incredibly bored of you derailing the amazing work Karen Ingala Smith and other women are doing tracking male violence against women and girls in order to shriek “whatta bout the menz”

It was completely unnecessary for you to respond to this:

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 10.23.41 with:

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 10.20.55

We all know the vast majority of violence against women and girls is committed by men. We know the vast majority of women and girls murdered are killed by men – most of whom the victims know personally. We know men are the majority of perpetrators of domestic violence against women, children and other men. We all know that in the rare cases of female on male homicide, that many (if not most) of the female perpetrators kill men who are abusing them. We also all know that Ingala Smith is tracking women killed by men, so your complaint is just ridiculous.

If you genuinely care about male victims of violence, stop derailing conversations about male violence against women and girls and start your own Counting Dead Men Project. I’m sure if you ask Ingala Smith politely, she will give you some top tips on the best ways to research the data on women who kill men.  To make it as accurate as Ingala Smith’s Counting Dead Women Project, you will need to ensure you include more than just names. You will need to include whether or not the male victims had a history of domestic violence.

You could even start a Counting Dead Men Project which includes EVERY single male victim of homicide so we could see that the vast majority of men are killed by other men. But, we all know you won’t bother doing this. It’s far easier to derail conversations about the reality of male violence to whine than it is to actually do the work Karen Ingala Smith does: giving a name to the women who are murdered every month.

If you can prove that women kill two men a week and that these women did not kill a violent current or former partner in self-defence, then I might stop thinking your an MRE. We all know you can’t prove this though.

Stewie

P.S I’ve storified some of the great feminist response to Fogg here.

COUNTING DEAD WOMEN PETITION