Violence against women (VAW) is a serious global issue that transcends cultures, borders and language. Gender-based violence and VAW are often used interchangeably as most gender-based violence is inflicted by men on women and girls. It is something which affects all races, all ages, all people, and results in the dehumanisation, exploitation and even death of countless women and girls around the world. It is estimated that in Europe, my own region, 20 to 25% of women have suffered physical violence. The number of women who have suffered from other forms of gender-based violence is much higher. Globally, VAW and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions. Based on data compiled by the World Health Organisation, up to 70 percent of women experience physical or sexual violence from men in their lifetime.
In international news, various celebrities have shown their darker side this week with outbursts of offense attacks against women via social media. Cee Loo Green, African American Grammy award winning singer took to Twitter to express his views on sexual assault and rape stating that:
“Women who have really been raped REMEMBER!!!” and “If someone is passed out they’re not even WITH you consciously! so WITH Implies consent.”
Firstly, these comments in any circumstances are unacceptable, unfounded and totally ridiculous. Furthermore, they are dangerous and imply that if you drug a woman and then rape her while she is unconscious then this is not classified as rape. These comments come after Cee Loo Green appeared in court on allegations of sexual offenses (rape) and drug spiking. The fact that he defines sexual consent as simply being physically present is scary. So basically, if you are passed out and unconscious, but you are with Cee Loo Green, you have consented to have ‘sex’, which is IMPOSSIBLE. This is not sex, this is rape.
It is almost as if it is your fault for passing out in the presence of Cee Loo Green. Well what do you expect? If your there, you want it, right? Let’s all blame the victim here. There is much to be said about the culture of blaming the rape victim. This is a reality that exists worldwide. For a rape victim it’s usually her sexual promiscuity,
“What did you do to deserve that?”
This kind of thinking presumes that the aggressor is innocent and simply incapable of controlling his own actions. Victim blaming is something that is embedded in our communities as we have seen time and time again. The general rhetoric –“What did you do to provoke him”, “What do you expect dressed like that”, “It’s your fault for getting so drunk.” I would like to tell you that I just imagined these insults, made them up out of thin air, but I would be lying. All of these statements come from actual comments made by police officers, lawyers and judges. Hence, my question is – how can we expect women and girls to come forward and report when faced with such victim blaming from the very people who are supposed to protect and uphold the law?
Earlier this week Australian rapper Eso, uploaded a photo to his Instagram account of him holding up his fist to punch a waxwork of popstar, Rihanna, with the caption, “Where did ya throw those fucking car keys woman!?!” #smackmybitch and #shelovesthewayithurts. He did so because he thought it was funny. Because apparently VAW is something to laugh about. Back in 2009, Rihanna was violently attacked by her then boyfriend Chris Brown, resulting in Rihanna being hospitalized. Hence, why Eso’s photo is even more insensitive and offensive as he is making ‘fun’ of an actual, real, violent attack against a woman. Eso symbolises the flippant use of VAW as a joke. We have all heard rape jokes, sexist jokes, homophobic jokes, racist jokes, and so on. But none of these issues are actually funny. People are silenced and abused because they are born a certain colour, a certain sexual orientation or a certain gender.
This is not my first blog on VAW, and I very much doubt it will be my last. Yet, I dream of a world whereby VAW is condemned with zero tolerance and legislation to protect and uphold human rights is implemented.
Enough is enough and I am not laughing.