Say No to Violence Against Women

In the last few weeks, the press have documented some controversial stories about domestic violence. In San Francisco, Ross Mirkarimi, the appointed Sheriff, plead guilty against an abuse incidence with his wife, Eliana Lopez, and was suspended as Sheriff by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. In London, actor Dennis Waterman confessed in an interview with Piers Morgan that he had hit his former wife, the actress Rula Lenska. In what could be described as a storm in a teacup, Waterman controversially claimed in the interview, “The problem with strong, intelligent women is that they can argue, well. And if there is a time where you can't get a word in... and I... I lashed out."

Waterman didn’t make things any better by going on to say, "It's not hard for a woman to make a man hit her." And, "She certainly wasn't a beaten wife, she was hit and that's different."

 Both cases were different but had the same outcome, a woman was physically attacked.

Dennis Waterman &  Rula Lenska

In the case between Ross Mirkarimi and his wife, although Lopez confessed to a neighbor, both husband and wife claimed that it was a family matter and insisted that it could be solved privately. In the case of Dennis Waterman and Rula Lenska, it was a bitter sweet relief for her. Ms. Lenska had been vilified in the press as a liar soon after she left Dennis Waterman but this recent development shined light upon her violent plight with him. Waterman's comments were appalling to say the least, but Ms. Lenska was relieved that he admitted to some of what she endured.

Both cases raise interesting points about domestic violence -- how it is viewed and dealt with. Elena Lopez clearly felt she was not a battered wife and some people do believe that the incidence should be considered "a private family matter." However, whenever a woman is subjected to violence, her life, her security, and her health are under threat. Whenever threatening behavior is used, it endangers a woman's health thereby reducing her ability to function as a healthy individual. Therefore, in my opinion, it becomes a public issue. 

Violence against women is not always between just a man and a woman. Jasvinder Sangera, an activist against forced marriage, has openly highlighted the violence women can suffer from their own families. It can also happen between women, in the street, and in the workplace. The general theme being that women are disproportionally affected, the United Nations cite statistics ranging from 15% to 76% of women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence.

The issue of violence against women is of such concern that the United Nations has dedicated a whole platform to this issue. Say No to Violence Against Women (UNite) is a social media campaign that commits itself to ending violence against women. With the collaboration of governments globally and by making the issue accessible via celebrities, awareness campaigns like this can empower people and make them aware of issues that are sometimes incorporated into customs and thought of as the "norm."

Violence is a direct threat against a person's life and violence against women should never be justified in any circumstance.