Gender-based violence against women is a subject that evokes memories of bizarre incidents witnessed in many countries across the globe. Regional groups, governments, and international bodies today recognise violence against women as an issue that is easily dismissible, yet it needs urgent redress. Due to the magnitude of attention that violence against women has received in the recent past, the media too has increasingly highlighted cases of violence against women on a wider scale.
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However, the approach assumed by the media in reporting cases of gender violence could still serve to propagate the very issue that it seeks to address. This essay seeks to scrutinise an article that appeared in the National NOW Times in 2007 with the intent of critically examining the manner in which it was structured to find out if it covered all aspects pertinent to this nature of issues. This subject is of particular interest especially considering the fact that a feminist authored the article.
The article opens by highlighting a horrific incident that occurred in a school in Pennsylvania where ten girls were shot and five of them succumbed to death (Gandy 5). Mention is not made of whether there were any boys in the vicinity at the time. Additionally, the incident occurred in an Amish school (Gandy 5).
The Amish are well known for being conservative people with an unrivalled devotion to their religious principles. In light of this idea, Amish girls definitely embody an off-bounds group of girls in society. The villain in the incident is reported to have been habitual in perpetrating this nature of crimes (Gandy 5). This aspect again depicts characters in society, who seem to draw gratification from occurrences that cause devastating emotional consequences to society.
The article further highlights a similar incident in which a man took six girls hostage in a school classroom and killed one of them after sexually molesting all of them (Gandy 5). A similarity that is obvious in both incidents is that both perpetrators took their own lives after the incidents probably due to the anticipated consequences.
The two crimes jolted people back to the reality surrounding the relationship between men and women. The fact that both incidents occurred in one country within a span of less than a week raises eyebrows. This assertion is compounded by the fact that the incidents occurred in the US, which is among the most progressive in almost all aspects across the world.
This aspect raises the probability that violence against women is still prevalent even in the most progressive societies albeit with varying degrees of seriousness. The article rightly raises a question of what might be amiss if such atrocities against women can still be found within the borders of a country that embodies justice for all.
In both cases of violence, hate-filled men are identified as the perpetrators of the disgusting criminal acts. One is reported as being thirty-five years old and the other fifty-three years old (Gandy 5), which rightly gives the impression that violence against women is propagated by men of all ages. Reports have proved this assertion as true; for example, in 1998, two boys ages 11 and 13 years, killed four girls and a female teacher, but only wounded a male teacher (Gandy 5).
In a separate incident, in 2000, a six-year-old boy shot and killed a girl with whom they were fighting (Gandy 5). These additional incidents make it plain that age does not have a bearing on the male perpetrated violence against women. Although in isolated cases women commit criminal acts against fellow women, this article depicts the true state of affairs in a society where men are the major source of violence against women.
The article seems to focus more on shootings as examples of violence against women, which is not true, but to engender the intended feelings, the most horrific cases of violence against have to be highlighted. Watts and Zimmerman identify eight different forms of violence against women, which range from rape to female infanticide (1232-1237). The fact that the article does not list all the different forms of violence against women does not demean it in any way because attempting to do so would only serve to dilute an issue as serious as the shootings.
However, this manner of reporting seems to give the issue of violence against women the same approach that has been adopted by society in the past. Sex-related violence against women has been given a taboo approach and thus it is rarely reported or even if reported, little is done towards redress. Heise et al. seem to agree with this position when they note that violence against women is the most permeating form of violation of human rights yet it is the least recognised worldwide (5-14).
Stakeholders in the war against gender violence seem to agree with Gandy when she notes that the prevalence of gender violence against women transcends the idea of a ‘few bad apples theory’ and that it needs a serious broad-based response (Gandy 5).
This assertion holds as many organisations across the world have expended lots of effort in lobbying for the adoption of legislations that would place women on equal terms with men. Many countries have been receptive to such moves and have adopted legislations that evoke envy in men, but violence against women persists with negligible convictions of perpetrators of violence against women (Krantz and Garcia-Moreno 818-821).
Gandy rightly points out that there is a need for serious remedial measures to be put in place, but she fails to identify which ones would be most appropriate. It is worrying to note that even the most progressive constitutions across the globe have not served to bring the statistics of violence against women down within their jurisdictions, yet emphasis has been put on heightening the punishment for perpetrators via the law.
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The author of the article seems to take a feminist stand when she opines that violence against women seems to be targeted on them simply because they are women (Gandy 5). She notes that the stigma associated with being feminine discourages a male child from exhibiting any form of feminine attributes. This idea seems to reflect what is happening in society, but it fails to explain why criminals target women.
In cases where sexual molestation is perpetrated against a young girl in domestic settings, could it be true that the victim is targeted simply because she is weak. Brutal masculinity is unacceptable in society as a norm and thus in this respect, the article seems to take a feminine stance.
In conclusion, the article was a true representation of what goes on in society as pertains to the relationship between men and women. Gender violence has become an issue of increased public interest with a range of measures attempting to address it.
However, there seems to be little success as the nature of reported crimes tends to be more horrific. Nonetheless, stakeholders need to focus on alternative ways of redress rather than getting discouraged and although the article does not highlight any, it points out serious cases of atrocities against women, which can spur positive change.
Gandy, Kim. “School shooters target girls, point to larger problem of violence against women.” National NOW Times 39.1 (2007): 5-6. Print.
Heise, Lori, Mary Ellsberg, and Megan Gottmoeller. “A global overview of gender-based violence.” International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 78.1 (2002): 5-14. Print.
Krantz, Gunilla, and Claudia Garcia-Moreno. “Continuing Professional Education: Violence against Women.” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 59.10 (2005): 818-821. Print.
Watts, Charlotte, and Cathy Zimmerman. “Violence against Women: Global Scope and Magnitude.” Lancet 359.9313 (2002): 1232-1237. Print.