Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

If We Find the Right Words We Can Help to Stop the Violence; OPINION

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

If We Find the Right Words We Can Help to Stop the Violence; OPINION

Article excerpt

RECENTLY something disturbing happened on the BBC news: reporting on the alleged case of slavery uncovered in South London last month, a reporter referred to the three captives, women over the age of 18 - one is, in fact, 65 - as 'girls'.

In one word he reduced the women to victims without a voice. Pointing this out may seem like the height of pedantry, particularly as these women were, indeed, victimised and silenced during their imprisonment.

But, the ease with which the word 'girls' rolled of the reporter's tongue shows the way in which such gender-reductive language is part of our everyday speech.

And, however it is translated, it is this language that helps to create the space for the suppression of women on a global scale.

The connection between our everyday use of language and more isolated incidents of violence against women seems to some a tenuous one to make.

A few weeks ago it was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women Day and the history that culminated in November 25 being chosen as the day to bring light to the systematic violence committed against women worldwide couldn't seem further from many people's reality.

The date marks anniversary of the murder of three sisters in the Dominican Republic, a small island in the Caribbean regarded as a tropical holiday paradise.

Here, 53 years ago, on the orders of dictator, Rafael Trujillo, the three Mirabal sisters, known collectively as the 'Inolvidables Mariposas', the 'Unforgettable Butterflies', were, along with the driver, clubbed to death because of their unwavering protest to the maniacal ruler's regime.

While rightly recognised as an event of its own, the assassination of 'the Butterflies' also exemplifies gendered violence that occurs on a daily basis throughout the world.

The statistics speak for themselves, for all of our proclamations of progress and civility, it remains true that two women are killed every week in England and Wales as a result of domestic violence and one in four women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.

Although for many of us the realities of gendered-violence seem entirely disconnected from our lives, the issue at hand is part of a much wider web of gender relations of which we are all a part. …

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