The hidden face of Christmas

Complaints have come in about a recent blog of mine on the killing of a Mexican mother seeking justice for the murder of her daughter. What upset some people was not the story itself, but the use of an expletive in the title.

Four days later, that story has sunk almost without trace. The Cancún climate change summit and the oil pipeline explosion at San Martin Texmelucan – tragedies of a different kind – have taken over. But there are still Christmassy headlines about snow and not missing your favourite TV shows.

Violence against women is a pandemic. Not my words, but those of the United Nations Development Fund for Women. One of the worst countries is the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and, in particular, two of its eastern provinces. “Since 1996, sexual violence against women and children in the eastern region of DRC has been used to torture and humiliate women and girls and destroy families.”

Another forgotten war simmers in the Chechen Republic. If you have not read The Angel of Grozny, Norwegian journalist Anne Seierstad’s book about Russia’s war on Chechnya and its impact on women and children, please do. It should be on every high-school reading list.

Then there are the “honour killings” in which 20,000 women a year are murdered, disturbingly detailed by Robert Fisk in The Independent. India, Jordan, Pakistan, Egypt, Gaza, the West bank, Turkey…

And just in case it looks like it’s all in the South, there’s Canada. Canada? Gerald Caplan of Toronto’s The Globe and Mail argues that, when more than 40 women a year are killed by their partners, “domestic violence” takes on a broader meaning:

“No nation, religion, class or ethnic group has the monopoly on misogyny. Honour killings should be seen not as uniquely evil but as the most extreme and perverse proof of this truth. That’s why it’s encouraging that women’s equality groups have been so vocal in their denunciations of all violence against women and are supporting women in minority communities to give them the strength to stand up for their rights.”

Christmas has a hidden face. It is the face of the women of the world weeping for violence. What shall we do?

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One comment on “The hidden face of Christmas

  1. Tilly says:

    An entirely justifiable expletive if you ask me! Sometimes only the strongest word is adequate – as long as we do reserve such terminology for times when it is appropriate! Sadly, over here at least, it trips off the tongues of the young several times a minute!

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