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Posted by Admin, December 27, 2016 1:04 pm

What do you think about when you think about violence against women? Do you think about sexual harassment on the streets? Or on public transportation, like buses? Do you think about the criminal justice system? Do you think of incarcerated women? Do you think about workplace harassment of women? Do you think of violence taking place within institutions – schools, hospitals, universities, churches, and mosques? Or do you think about domestic violence? Marital rape? Wife-beating?

If you answered yes to more than one of the above, congratulations! You are among those few who recognise that violence against women is structurally produced – and the forms of abuse you see depend on your social location, and your identity – or plural – identities.

When I asked you to think about violence against women, the first thing that most of you thought about is probably domestic violence. One reason is perhaps the high prevalence rate of domestic violence. Recent reports suggest that about 80 percent of women in Bangladesh experience domestic violence. But, another reason is that the social structure – and its politics – hides violence against women by conflating violence against women with domestic violence, unfortunately limiting it to that, and eliding over structural and institutional violence.

In other words, we forget or suppress from consciousness, as Joshua Price puts it, that women are violated in many other spaces – including spaces that are meant to be safe. This should be no surprise, however – given that we know that women are so often abused at home – even though the dominant narrative of the home is surrounding safety.

Another way in which structural violence is hidden (in plain sight, if you will) is by creating the illusion that violence against women is a homogeneous phenomenon, when it is not, suggests Beth Richie (2000). Let us think about intersectionality – or multiple identities – as a way to understand how violence is heterogeneous across groups. In the context of Bangladesh, it is perhaps not difficult to imagine that a low-income Santal woman in Gaibandha is more likely to experience violence than a high income Muslim man, or even woman, in urban Dhaka, highlighting that identities intersect in ways that often marginalise individuals, and increase their risk of adverse experiences of violence. It highlights that racism and sexism can and does occur at the same time. This violence against Santals is structurally produced; this violence is institutional. Much like how violence against Kashmiris by the Indian Army is structurally produced. Much like how police shootings of black men in the United States is an example of institutional violence.

Clearly, the difference between these experiences are not merely location in terms of geography but location on the basis of their identities — be it racial, ethnic, religious, socioeconomic status, gender, age, mental health, disability, sexual orientation, and/or gender.

Yet another way in which structural violence is suppressed is by creating a victim-perpetrator dichotomy where the “victim” is supposed to be innocent and the “perpetrator” guilty (Price, 2012). Indeed, innocence and guilt are important in criminal activities – but when criminalisation becomes a tool of state oppression, this labelling is problematic. An excellent example is the War on Drugs that treat heroine use as a public health issue and cocaine as a legal issue (1), which some say is related to the fact that in the United States affluent whites use more heroin and low-income blacks use cocaine. So if we view cocaine users as perpetrator of crime we miss the larger picture of discrimination and racial injustice.

This victim-perpetrator dichotomy gets complicated when multiple identities come into play. And, further complicated when violence is structural, taking place within various structures. For example, when state actors – such as policemen – become “perpetrators” they are often found to be “not guilty” as the dominant narrative would suggest, and when the “victim” is a sex worker, she is no longer “innocent” because of the nature of her work. The many cases of policemen raping women (and men) in police custody speak to the legitimisation of such violence. The many cases of policemen killing people, particularly minority groups as recently seen in Gaibandha, with impunity speak to such a culture of legitimising violence. The problem is not merely the violence they perpetrate themselves but the violence that they ignore, and thus condone – and we know that it’s often violence against minority groups – such as low-income, from a minority community, women – that is ignored. It is problematic because it reinforces the idea that violence, particularly against minorities – be it women or minority group members – is justified, while the state (and state actors) are absolved of violence, because they do so in the name of “protection.” And when that violence is public – e.g. on the streets – it furthers the idea that certain groups of individuals – for example women – are unsafe on the streets, and should remain at home, furthering the agenda of those interested in repressing women’s rights.

At the same time, the disproportionality in terms of who gets arrested and who doesn’t (for example, a low-income rickshaw puller is more likely to be arrested for hitting his wife or child than a high-income businessman) should not be lost on us. That his arrest may have adverse effects on his low-income family should be a reminder of how certain groups are kept within their social class without any real hope of upward mobility.

 

The writer is Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Buffalo.

 

Image from: lctmag.com

Article lifted from: thedailystar.net

Posted by admin, September 24, 2014 12:34 pm

Though Charl and Naira Nel have not directly been victims of crime in this country, they say they fear genocide and rape here.

Aggravating their anxiety was Zuma’s performance of a struggle song two years ago and Julius Malema’s rendition of Dubul’Ibhunu (Shoot the Boer). The song Malema sang was declared hate speech by the Equality Court in 2011. Malema was president of the ANC Youth League at the time.

The Zuma song, at the ANC centenary celebrations in 2012, was Sizobadubula ngembayimbayi (Shoot with a machine gun). The president sang the refrain ”shoot the Boer” several times during his rendition.

The Nels left South Africa in 2010 and applied for refugee status in Canada. They sought the assistance of Russell Kaplan, a South African expatriate lawyer who had helped white Capetonian Brandon Huntley in his fight for asylum.

In June, the federal court upheld the board’s decision to deny Huntley refugee status. He had sought asylum in 2008, claiming that he had been assaulted by black South Africans.

The board granted him refugee status in 2009 but the decision was found to be “unreasonable” on judicial review.

In their application, the Nels said ”crimes against white people frequently involved mutilation and brutality, even when nothing was stolen; they observed that political leaders had sung songs about killing white people even after a South African court had declared the song racist. They submitted expert evidence by a reporter, Adriana Stuijt, and the president of Genocide Watch, Dr Gregory Stanton, indicating these crimes were racially motivated.”

But the board refused the couple’s application, saying that although they expressed fear of persecution because they were white, it found “nothing had happened to them personally” and they were not in need of protection.

The Nels then approached the federal court.

On September 4, Judge John O’Keefe set aside the board’s decision and referred their case to another panel for reconsideration.

It is not known when this will be done.

Judge O’Keefe said: “… the board’s assessment of [ Nel’s] updated narrative is puzzling. In it, [he] said that he had become fearful of returning to South Africa because [Malema] had since sung an anti-apartheid song called Kill the Farmer, Shoot the Boer .

”Even after a South African court ruled that the song was hate speech, Malema continued to sing it and Zuma also sang it at the 100th anniversary of the ANC.

“Genocide Watch also updated the situation to stage six of the eight stages of genocide because of political shifts and warned white Afrikaners to leave South Africa,” the judge said.

”The board dismissed the updated narrative on the basis that these were not significant changes and concluded that it was only done with the intent of amplifying a situation of fear.

“However, it never explained why it felt the singing of this song by political leaders or the Genocide Watch opinion could not have legitimately inspired a further subjective fear of political persecution in the applicants.”

Kaplan told the Canadian Post: ”This is the first time the Federal Court of Canada has awarded a white South African with a favourable decision – a big step.”

From 2006 to June 2014, 151 South Africans applied for asylum. Only 23 applications were accepted.

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