Opinion

The Great Debate

When you abuse someone, it’s never a private matter

mahurin for fleming

I finally watched the Ray Rice video, the one of the Baltimore Ravens star running back decking his wife in an elevator. If you haven’t seen it, do, and then decide whether you agree with the victim that this is a private matter between her and her husband. Really? In what universe is knocking someone else out a private matter?

What if he had hit a friend or a stranger? It would have been laughable to suggest the assault deserved a ring of privacy and that the cops shouldn’t be called and justice pursued. But because the woman was his fiancée, now spouse, she was calling her knockout a family matter.

We do a strange dance with the issue of privacy. We have a kind of love-hate relationship with it. We have jettisoned it in so many ways, with our daily tweets and techno-bytes of self-revelation, the constant Instagraming and messaging. Yet we cling to it on some level — like a curtain to draw around ourselves when we wish.

Patriarchy makes good use of the issue of privacy. Behind that curtain — or those elevator doors — it can still swagger and intimidate and hurt. Then, if the victim refuses to press the case, the state is reluctant to intervene. There is a presumption that it is entirely their business — the couple’s — to sort out.

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) warms up during the NFL's Super Bowl XLVII football practice in New OrleansWe had this same discussion before, about children. We have now moved off the notion that what parents did in their homes in the name of discipline — or in eruptions of temper — should always be countenanced. Enough outcry, and enough gut-clutching memoirs written by authors abused as kids, helped shift attitudes. We came to understand that it was incumbent on all of us to intervene — or insist that our law enforcement and courts do. (Let’s leave aside, for a moment, the sorry record that many child protection services have.)

from Equals:

The problem with being a female football fan

Baltimore Ravens Rice reacts after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter in their NFL football game in Denver

It’s a weird time to be an avid NFL fan – particularly when you’re also a woman.

Beginning in September, I treat each Sunday as a holy day of chicken wings, beer and screaming at TVs. I play on an intramural football team. I own three Patriots jerseys (two, regrettably, bearing the name of a certain blue-eyed wide receiver who shall remain unnamed). I own the Patriots beanie, Patriots vintage tee, Patriots Christmas ornament and two Patriots beer koozies. I have funneled hundreds of dollars into the National Football League’s coffers.

When my fiancé and I recently went apartment hunting, we assessed each unit with our priorities clear: Where can we put the TV? Is the building wired for Verizon FiOS (NFL RedZone) or DirecTV (NFL Sunday Ticket)? Are there enough sports bars nearby?

Time to block gun violence against women

If October is like every other month, 46 women in the United States will be murdered with a gun by an intimate partner.

Public attention was gripped by the most recent mass shooting, at the Navy Yard in Washington, but during Domestic Violence Awareness month, we need to focus on the fact that women face a heightened risk of gun violence.

Women are more than three-and-a-half times as likely to be killed by an intimate partner as men. A gun in a household with a history of domestic violence increases by 20 times the risk that a woman will be killed there, compared to households without guns. Similarly, more than 75 percent of stalking victims are women — and stalkers use weapons to harm or threaten their victims in 1 out of 5 cases. The statistics show: Guns plus a history of domestic violence or stalking equals increased risk of death to women.

How the West should treat ‘honor’ killings

It took the jury in Kingston, Ontario some 15 hours to return a guilty verdict against three members of the Afghan-Canadian Shafia family in a case that shocked Canada and North America. Mohammad Shafia, 58, his wife Tooba Yahya, 42, and their 21-year-old son, Hamed, were sentenced to life imprisonment on Jan. 29 for the premeditated killing in 2009 of the couple’s three teenage daughters, Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, and that of Mohammad Shafia’s first wife, Rona Amir Mohammad. The Shafia girls wanted to live like ordinary Canadian teenagers, but their father viewed this lifestyle as a violation of his own interpretation of “honor.”

Honor-related crimes, often wrongly labeled an Islamic practice, take place in patriarchal communities where gender roles remain strictly divided and the interests of the community prevail over those of individuals, particularly women. A radical interpretation of Islam does at times provide religious cover for violence against women, and many of the 5,000 honor killings committed each year, according to United Nations estimates, take place in Muslim countries. But such practices persist in Sikh and Hindu communities as well, and only a few decades ago, crimes were still committed in the name of honor in Mediterranean countries like Italy, Spain and Greece.

In patriarchal communities, women are seen to embody the family’s honor, and thus are expected to be modest and obedient. But if honor-based violence goes back to the dawn of time in some parts of the world, tradition today often blends with modern factors — social, political or even economic — to create a potent, and at times lethal, mix. The murders that hit the headlines occur against a broader backdrop of honor-inspired coercion and domestic abuse. Identifying the warning signs and taking appropriate steps in time can protect lives. The Shafia girls, it appears, had reached out for help on several occasions, only to retreat when the authorities interviewed them in front of their parents.

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