By SIAN ROLLS
It’s day three and I’m starting to feel the fatigue. Keeping my ears to the ground, reading and trying to keep everything flagged and organised for the next 13 days is starting to take its toll.
Violence is not palatable. It doesn’t make you feel good when you hear about it. Domestic, sexual, psychological, structural or whatever the type, there’s nothing that makes you feel good about hearing about it. Or it there?
To be honest, people shake their heads and click their tongues in disappointment at society as we hear or see the numbers reported go up and up. However, we need to see the numbers. We need to hear the stories. We need to make sure that survivors can come forward but we need to find a way to make it easier for them to come forward sooner.
Threats of violence sometimes do enough to scare someone into submission. Thus, no “actual” violence occurs and then there’s “nothing” to report. These threats should be treated just as seriously as the acts.
I am definitely not one to recommend the course of action for the individual, as every situation is different. There are aggravating factors, there may be children involved or other family members, there may be nowhere safe close by for the woman to go if a separation is called for… there’s just so many little, little things that end up being huge differentiating factors that need to be taken into account.
So what can we, as societies, communities, families or individuals, do?
Many things, I suppose. Empowering ourselves with information, being supportive, calling for the investment in services for survivors, investment in law enforcement that is not gender or situationally blind, perhaps even re-examining legislation.
Why? Because at the end of the day, violence affects so much.
Health wise, survivors deal with trauma to their bodies and minds. This, coupled with already existing mindsets and resource limitations, are simply exacerbated by a lack of accessibility or stigma to seeking help from counsellors or doctors or otherwise.
Then there’s their contribution to decision-making. We all deserve a voice, but so many have their voice stripped from them by fear, by “norms” and by the seclusion from society a survivor may self impose.
There’s also the violence some face because they want a voice. These women get told to get back into a kitchen, they get threats online or a voice in the back of a room suggests she should get raped to get fixed of whatever possessed her to enter politics.
We’ve seen prominent women in politics abroad be scrutinised for their clothes, their hair, their shoes and who they’re with or not with instead of being treated the way men are. As politicians, plain and simple.
There’s so much to be done and it’s going to take time. So, just as I may have said yesterday, we need to start somewhere. Maybe now is that time.