The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.
One is not born, but rather dies a woman.
This is the slogan displayed by some women demonstrators
to denounce the violence suffered by women around the world. A diversion of Simone de Beauvoir's famous phrase, "One is not born, but rather becomes a woman
", to raise awareness on a subject that is still little known.
In 2020, gender still draws the dangers to which we will be subjected in the course of our lives. Equal opportunities are therefore still far from being achieved.
To arms citizens! (for those who have the luxury of being recognised as citizens in their own country). It is up to us to fight to finally achieve full equality. It is up to us to struggle so that, throughout the world, being a woman is not a risk factor for our lives.
But let’s respond to their violence with education.
To their strength, let’s oppose our solidarity.
I therefore propose that you learn a little more about violence against women around the world. Figures that are difficult to swallow, but also good examples to follow to prepare our weapons against a common enemy to be definitively defeated: social injustice.
<h2>1. Figures on violence against women around the world</h2>
The relationship of domination of a man over a woman is therefore so entrenched that women find themselves victims of their own family, of their own environment. The place where they should, in my opinion, feel the safest, their home, becomes a place of danger.
Only 52% of the women with a partner (married or not) will be making their own decisions about their sexual relations or their contraception in 2019. 200 million women alive today do not even have the right to feel sexual pleasure because they have been excised.
Not only are women in danger at home, but 1 out of 2 women around the world do not even own their body because they seem to belong to their partners... And others do not even have access to sexual pleasure.
71% of the victims of global human trafficking are women and girls in 2019, and 3 out of 4 of them are sexually exploited.
Women are therefore still considered as objects of merchandise around the world - sex objects with tangible commercial value. Their bodies still do not belong to them, and on top of that, they have a price.
- For a woman aged between 15 and 44, rape and domestic violence represent a greater risk than cancer, road accidents, war and malaria combined. In 10 years, more girls are killed for being girls than there have been victims in all the genocides of the 20th century (Half the Sky, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, 2008).
These latter data ultimately summarise everything that can be found on the subject.
Being a woman in 2020 is not just about having a few more recurrences of an entrenched sexism as can be seen through the "girls only" trend
It is about facing real dangers, all over the world. Dangers of death, sexual dangers.
Risks that come above all from our own home, from our own environment.
<h2>2. Why? B-HE-cause!</h2>
Why should we still suffer from such dangers in the 21st century?
Why are women victims of such pains?
Why does the female gender engender so much violence?
I ask myself these same questions. Overall when we know that women do 66% of the world's work and produce 50% of the world's food (Des femmes et des hommes
, Frédérique Bedos). Women are fundamental, of course, beyond mere reproductive considerations. They contribute to economic development, while at the same they are being paid less than their male colleagues: on average in the world, 40% less.
Subjected to violence, easy labourers... All this is due to a well-oiled system that has worked since the dawn of time. Patriarchy.
What is patriarchy?
First of all, it is not a myth or a fanciful legend. It is a social organisation in which a man holds a higher power. it can be either in politics, in economics, in religion... An authority in which men use their power to their own advantages. This is the definition given by the dictionary.
So, patriarchy exists. More generally, it indicates the social construction that has favoured men throughout history to the detriment of women's rights.
A little exercise now.
Who are the best known authors?
Who are the great heroes of history?
Who are the most famous artists of the last centuries?
Who commands churches, mosques, synagogues, temples?
Honestly, I doubt that you have answered Virginia Woolf, Joan of Arc, Frida Kahlo, Saint Mary Mother of God and women... Besides, have you ever wondered in card games why the King wins against the Queen
What I am trying to make you understand with this test is the omnipresence of men in our histories, in our societies, in our cultures. Men have always had, throughout the world, a power greater than women, a more important role, determined by a patriarchal development in their favour... A development in which they themselves have participated precisely to assuage their authority.
As a consequence, we now find ourselves with countries:
- Where religious authority, established by men, seeks to control women's bodies - I'm talking here about all monotheistic religions.
- Where the political authority votes with difficulty for rights that concern only women - abortion is still discussed in the United States and Poland, to name a few of them.
- Where the family authority imposes conduct on its female representatives - 750 million women were married before their 18th birthday in 2019.
Do you now see the link between patriarchy and violence against women in the world?
In a world where male superiority is still dominant in many countries (and I insist, even in the richest areas), it is finally no wonder that the status of women is so deplorable.
As long as some men continue to believe and nurture a superiority over women, as long as others also fail to understand all the privileges they enjoy over women, we cannot expect the equality we deserve.
<h2>3. But what can we do about it?</h2>
The first thing to do is to ask ourselves this question.
You are already on the right track!
The fact is that ignoring the problem means accepting the system. But thinking about ways to change things is already a first step.
Talking, discussing, exchanging. It is a second step towards change: explaining the situation to others and launching the thought process in them as well. Communicating these figures, looking for others, sharing them and gradually awakening the world around you.
It is well said that the world is smaller than we think: we could quickly get around it if we all put our minds to it.
This is even easier with social media, whose importance and weight should not be underestimated. These are the weapons of today: with a little help, you can reach hundreds or even thousands of people, who in turn can reach others.
A process that often turns out to be viral, but in a good way... and then honestly, I prefer a pandemic of awareness about violence against women in the world to a pandemic of coronavirus.
You can also join collectives
that propose concrete actions: demonstrations, petitions, strikes, collage of strong slogans... Their objective is to make noise, to make themselves visible, so that no one can pass by. The important thing is that we hear about this violence, that we underline it, that we highlight it so that everyone can react, even on their own scale.
Because speaking out on the subject and rising up against it definitely works.
I propose a small top 3 of the different laws that have been voted in the world following the pressure of certain feminist associations to improve the situations experienced by women.
A bit of optimism to be inspired by the best.
- In Mexico and El Salvador:
has supported activities that have led to the inclusion of "femicide" as a specific criminal offence in these two countries, an area of the world where the rate of femicide is particularly high. Procedures have therefore been put in place to punish this crime as such, but also to better prevent future physical violence. It is a legal recognition of femicide, i.e. the murder of a woman for her gender.... A word which does not yet appear in the French Penal Code, for example.
A woman who is a victim of violence can find free psychological and legal assistance in Spain
. She can ask for a rapid judgment to be passed by a specialised court on violence against women. The trial can thus be organised in just 15 days. Protection orders to protect women and to prevent the accused from approaching her have also been put in place. 20,000 orders were made in 2018, compared to 1,300 in France.... In fact, 47 women were killed by their partners in Spain in 2018, compared to 120 in France.
The definition of rape has been changed from a 'sexual act under threat or violence
' to a sexual act with a person who did not participate 'freely
'. Consent must then be expressed by word or gesture and it is on these points that future trials will be conducted. This is a fundamental change in the law
, when we know that not all rapes are committed under threat or violence... Furthermore, the law stipulates that the police must immediately inform the victim that she has the right to free legal assistance in order to guide her in filing a complaint.
As a result, violence against women ends up being condemned.
I hope that this world tour has opened your eyes to the realities of which we are victims. Human rights are aptly named: they were made by, for and in favour of men. It is up to us, women, to do something about it so that we too can count on these fundamental rights for our lives.
Who knows, perhaps one day it will no longer be dangerous for a woman to return home?
La Voyageuse offers free pass for the women victims of violence
, so that they can emancipate through travelling while meeting inspiring women. You can also help these women becoming a solidary host
to welcome them during their journey.
I dream of a world where gender does not define social status. A world that we can walk through without encountering such violent inequalities. An ideal world where men and women will not be pitted against each other, but in full parity.
That is feminism.
To be outraged at all these figures in order to try to improve the situation, wherever we are, as best we can. Reaching out to the victims to help them get up, roll up your sleeves and say "I've had enough". Being there for your neighbour, in international solidarity that stands up against all kinds of violence.
And you, are you also a feminist?