This morning, a young man who had set fire to his girlfriend was caught by neighbors. The girl was rescued with 70% of her body covered in 3rd degree burns.
I watched the video in horror and while I’m clearly enraged by the injustice of it all, I am also filled with intense sadness at the inhumanity displayed.
Once again, I am reminded (not that I need reminding) of why no woman can afford to sit on the sidelines on the issue of ending violence against women.
This behavior didn’t happen in a vacuum. It is not unexplainable. It comes from a deeply rooted belief in the ‘ownership’ and ‘entitlement’ culture that views a woman as property to be owned by a man and access to her body as the entitlement of the man who ‘owns’ her.
From fathers, to brothers, to husbands and boyfriends, patriarchy fuelled by misogyny has provided the enabling environment to take away women’s agencies and freedoms and to provide the grounds for violence against women who threaten the status quo.
The belief system that fuels violence against women finds legitimacy in religion, in several cultural beliefs and practices and in a society that has refused to self examine, introspect and change.
Violence against women will continue to thrive as long as institutions that exist to foster a better society refuse to acknowledge that one gender is not superior to the other and that it is morally wrong for one human being to claim ownership of another.
Violence against women will continue to thrive as long as religious and cultural institutions continue to negotiate the full humanity of women. When we are only recognized based on our association or relationship with a man; (someone’s wife, daughter, sister or girlfriend ) Instead of just fellow human, plain and simple.
Violence against women will continue as long as we continue to raise the boy child to believe he’s entitled to the loyalty, service and attention of girls not because he’s earned it and the girls are willing, but because he’s a boy and “that is how girls are wired”.
Doing the work to end violence against women is not “feminist work”. It is “survival work”. Our very lives depend on it.