Updated: Dec 9, 2019
Maybe if she wasn’t wearing a skirt, or if she had locked her car doors as soon as she got in, or watched her drink throughout the night, or didn’t stay in that relationship for that long, or didn’t reject his advances, she wouldn’t have been attacked. Maybe if she didn’t exist and exercise her right to her own humanity, nothing would've have happened to her. Maybe, maybe, maybe we’ll continue to trivialize a woman’s right to existence and blame her for everything bad that happens to her rather than work towards calling out, preventing, and punishing those who actually attacked her to begin with.
This article analyzes how women are subjected to gender-based violence from sexist jokes to femicide across the GLOBE on a daily basis in hopes of raising awareness, increasing understanding, and encouraging everyone to take action.
Did you know that global estimates published by WHO indicate that about 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime and up to 70 per cent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. Globally, an estimated 71% of enslaved people who are human trafficked are women and girls, women are twice as likely to be threatened with revenge porn than men, there are 650 million women and girls in the world today who were married before age 18, at least 22 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been fatally shot or killed by other violent means in 2019 alone, and 200 million women alive today have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting.
Violence against women is a global continuum and epidemic that includes everything from gender-based discrimination, abuse, sexual assault, and even killings, however, despite how well-aware we all are about how women are used and abused in this world, nothing is really being done to protect us. Whether we are being catcalled in a bar, subjected to sexist jokes in the workplace, or brutally murdered, women are always at a loss because of these unequal power dynamics and the repression we experience on a daily basis living in a patriarchal society.
FROM SEXIST JOKES…
In case you didn’t already know, sexist jokes aren’t funny. They never have been funny nor will they ever will be funny. You might not think it’s problematic if you’ve deluded yourself into believing that poking fun at oppressed groups is humorous, but these jokes not only reflect how poorly women are already perceived, but they also reinforce the dangerous stereotypes about women. It also supports sexist and misogynistic beliefs about women which makes room for people to question a woman’s behaviour, conduct, and actions when something bad does actually happen to her. If you have a deteriorating sense of humour then you might think that making fun of women is funny, however, sexist jokes actually represent disparagement humor. Disparagement humour is basically any attempt to amuse through the denigration of a social group or its representatives.
So, anything that makes fun of a marginalized group (like women) is considered disparagement humour because you’re kicking down a group that’s ALREADY at the bottom of the barrel when in reality, these jokes are being made to hide how you TRULY feel about women without the fear of criticism. By trying to camouflage these prejudiced jokes as just being for shits and giggles, you’re trying to make it seem like they’re harmless, when they’re really not. In fact, disparagement humor can foster discrimination against targeted groups. According to the European Journal of Social Psychology, men higher in hostile sexism reported greater tolerance of gender harassment in the workplace upon exposure to sexist versus neutral (nonsexist) jokes. On a more serious and heinous note, researchers discovered that men higher in hostile sexism expressed greater willingness to RAPE a woman after being exposed to sexist and nonsexist jokes. With all of that being said, sexist jokes aren’t just jokes. They reinforce harmful norms and attitudes about women and they very quickly lead to women being stripped of their humanity.
Recently enough, former K-ara member and powerful soloist in both South Korea and Japan, Goo Hara, passed away. Goo Hara was a victim of constant cyber bullying, gender-based violence from her ex-partner, and even subtle personal yet sexist attacks under the guise of ‘jokes’ from people she knew in her professional life. This is just one of the many examples of women who were virulently shamed and proves that this is something that even wealthy and famous women experience, as well. Goo Hara was defamed, slandered, and consistently attacked for the sexual and physical abuse she experienced from thousands of people online on a daily basis. Rather than for the general public to be advocating for her support and safety, they attacked her until the very end.
This may not be a term used regularly in the average person's vocabulary, but it's an important one nonetheless. According to the United Nations, femicide is the most extreme form of discrimination and violence against women and girls. It focuses on the misogynistic killings of women and girls by men simply BECAUSE they are women or girls. According to The Global Study on Homicide in 2011, it indicates that while there has been a decrease in homicides worldwide there has been an increase in the number of femicides.To give you more context on how grave of an issue femicide is across the world:
On average, at least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner in Australia
Approximately every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner.
Asia had the greatest number of women killed by intimate partners or family members in 2017, with a total of 20,000.
A 2009 human rights campaign reported that there had been more than 500 femicides per year in Guatemala since 2001
In the United Kingdom, over the last ten years on average a woman is killed by her male partner or former partner every four days.
It is estimated that of the 87,000 women who were intentionally killed in 2017 globally, more than half (50,000- 58 per cent) were killed by intimate partners or family members, meaning that 137 women across the world are killed by a member of their own family every day. More than a third (30,000) of the women intentionally killed in 2017 were killed by their current or former intimate partner.
How many more women need to die at the hands of men before action is finally taken? There is an obvious real need to address gender-based violence that women are subjected to on a daily basis. From shutting down sexist jokes to understanding any and all forms of violence, there needs to be more sufficient action put into place that discourages perpetrators of these acts from continuing to do them.
WAYS TO TAKE ACTION...
There’s a multitude of different factors from the individual, family/relationship, community, and societal levels that may influence someone to behave violently towards someone else, but at the end of the day, one cannot allow their environment to justify their abuse towards others.
According to the World Health Organization, some effective ways to prevent gender-based violence are to:
Empower women economically and socially through a combination of microfinance and skills training related to gender equality
Promote communication and relationship skills within couples and communities
Transform harmful gender and social norms through community mobilization and group-based participatory education with women and men to generate critical reflections about unequal gender and power relationships
But, more importantly, there needs to be better legislation, polices, and rules that not only protect women from the constant gender-based violence that they are always subjected to. Examples of policies generated by the World Health Organization that can help create change that will actually promote gender equality and prevent gender-based violence include:
ending discrimination against women in marriage, divorce and custody laws
ending discrimination in inheritance laws and ownership of assets
improving women’s access to paid employment
developing and resourcing national plans and policies to address violence against women.
Additionally, according to the ‘Understanding and addressing violence against women’ study, there needs to be an increase in surveillance and screening of femicide and intimate partner violence, train and sensitize both the police and health staff, increase prevention and intervention research, strengthen gun laws, and strengthen surveillance, research, laws and awareness of murder in the name of ‘honour. Violence against women is everything from verbal harrassment (like sexist jokes), emotional abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and murder.
There’s so much more that needs to be done that would help support women and our humanity across the globe. I’ve had enough of constantly fearing for my life as soon as I walk outside the house, and for some reason, the terror is within their homes, as well. Failure to address the violence that women experience on a daily basis costs LIVES. This issue needs to be addressed in both developed and developing countries because the oppression women face is a worldwide epidemic and one that needs to be solved NOW rather than later.
Rather than constantly coddling men, placing the blame on women for their abuse, normalizing abuse under the guise of “tradition,” or trying to convince women that they should just endure their trauma and remain silent, men need to be holding themselves accountable. It doesn’t matter how much research is conducted, if the perpetrators of gender-based violence aren’t being punished for the constant abuse and mistreatment they subject women to, the cycle will only continue. How many more women need to suffer before legislation is enacted that promote gender equality, laws are actually enforced, and justice is served? Who else needs to die before people start viewing women as human beings and not as subservient, subhuman, and disposable? Enough is ENOUGH.
I don't want to die.