Sunday, December 11, 2005

murder at your partners hands

happens to about 2 women a week.

The Guardian magazine (which I don't like very much) occassionally has decent articles. This week it lists all the people (mostly women) killed by ex or current partners with photos of the majority. It's a moving record of a desperately common crime. It poses lots of (fairly obvious) questions, and overall manages to raise the profile of a silent, largely unreported issue in the mainstream media.

Katherine Viner writes -

"men's power over women is at the heart of this depressing story. Very often women are killed when they challenge that power, by trying to separate from their partners, or seeing someone else, or doing something that their partner doesn't want them to do. Perhaps we should not be surprised by the fact that two men a week kill their partners, when courts say that women can consent to sex while almost unconscious, when rape itself has a conviction rate of 5.3%, when twice as many men now visit prostitutes than a decade ago. Britain is not getting any safer for women, however many get to be CEOs.

Violence against women is mainstream - the British Crime Survey from 2004 shows that an astonishing 50% of all adult women have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. (It was only in 1981 that it was made illegal for a man to rape his wife.) And we use euphemisms about domestic violence against women such as "a row that got out of hand" and "a volatile relationship", which make abusive relationships sound equal, just a bit of sparring. Press reports say, "Police are treating it as a domestic incident", as if that makes it a lesser crime....

And the late George Best, lamented as a flawed hero in reams of tear-stained articles last month, said in support of fellow woman-beating footballer Paul Gascoigne, "I think we all give the wife a smack once in a while." He certainly did so himself.

So how much is our society colluding with this? When we lionise abusers, feel sorry for those who kill women who nag, and sentence men who've killed their lovers to paltry terms in jail, you have to ask: are so many women killed by their partners because society lets men get away with it?"

I was unaware of George Best's violent history - I had no interest in his life. It only came to my notice hearing Polly Toynbee amongst others talking about why people like George become sanctified in death. She commented that she is uncomfortable about the celebration of him as a genius and role model when he was a wife-beater. I welcome this article as a reminder that we are colluding with violence by treating people like Best as heroes, and generally forgetting to report crimes like these with the respect they deserve.


TP said...

I knew little about Best and his life before his death, but I did know he was a violent alcoholic and I saddened but not surprised by the general treatment in the media of him as a (flawed) hero.

It is so often the way with male sportsstars that one small area of their life, sport, is made into their entire life by the fans and they are honoured and admired on the basis of this alone, without consideration for their problems and criminal behaviour.

It's an ongoing cycle, and we can see in he media today famous footballers are virtually untouchable in the criminal court (think of recent rape allegations) purely because of the closed ranks and veiling their sport achievements provide.

I do wonder what message this protrays to men about their idols. Does it mean it's ok to do these things if you're a 'genius'?

birdychirp said...

Great post - I had earmarked the article myself to make similar points. Its one of the most blatant and public examples of institutional sexism out there - I don't mean the worst, just to me one of the clearest cut to all.