Thursday, July 16, 2009

Femicide in El Salvador

Last week on the way home from work, I was listening to world news on KBOO and heard a really shocking story about the rise of homicides against women in El Salvador. Apparently, there have been 40 murders of women in last six weeks alone. On average, there are about 300 murders of women each year in El Salvador, but there have already been 200 since the beginning of 2009.

During the story, a mother of a 26-year-old woman who was killed by her ex-partner spoke about her daughter and demanded that the government do something about this disturbing problem. A man was interviewed and stated that the murder of women wasn't something he'd thought much about until his sister was killed. Everyone interviewed felt that the deaths of women where at epidemic proportions and something must be done.

It made me wonder... at what point will our global governments make the same demands? When will governments around the world decide that the murders and abuse of women are worthy of the same action and dollars as issues such as smoking, cancer, or gang violence? These types of violence are often seen as a public safety issue; when will they be a livability issue?

Unfortunately, it's not just governments who are ignoring the importance of violence against women. Once upon a time, a woman that I knew told me that she didn't worry about domestic and sexual violence because it wasn't something that effected a "majority of women" - one in four wasn't enough of a ratio for her to feel like it was something that she personally had to worry about (unless of course, it eventually happened to her). I asked her how many women -- specifically, how many women she cared about -- had personally experienced some form of domestic or sexual violence. Of course, she could think of plenty... and partially conceded that perhaps violence against women was, in fact, something that she should care about.

I believe we need to stop believing that violence against women is only an important issue when it happens to us personally or someone we care about. All of us need to care about violence against women, and all of us need to do something that limits and prevents acts of violence and oppression. Until we are all willing to do that, both individuals and entire governments, women in San Salvador and Portland, OR will continue to live in a world where we aren't safe and are undervalued.

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