Touria Prayag's Blog

L’express Weekly 27 August 2010

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on August 27, 2010

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Editorial ]

In the Island
of Patriarchy

The play “The Crossing” (translated from the Creole “Nu
Traverse”) staged last Sunday by Amnesty International,
SOS Femmes and Women in Networking has brought to
the forefront the good old debate about domestic violence.
In the island of patriarchy, we tend to forget that domestic violence
covers a wide range of behaviours including intimidation, sexual and
emotional abuse, economic deprivation as well as physical aggression.
Some of these behaviours may not necessarily constitute a crime but
the magnitude and the extent of their effects on victims, families and
the community at large are devastating.
Of all these hideous types of violence, the worst one is physical
aggression as it crosses the line from human to animal behaviour. And,
as you might expect, it is grossly underreported. If, in the United States
and the U. K. only about a third of cases of domestic violence are actually
reported, you can imagine what the situation is like in our genteel
society where smiles are in order. The cases which hit the headlines are
mostly those severe cases where a woman is sent to hospital as a result
of her injuries. The rest is history.
What is more worrying perhaps is that popular emphasis has
tended to be on the degree of violence rather than on the principle. A
certain degree of violence against women seems to be accepted by society,
even by women themselves! Why is it that they fi nd it necessary
when they relate instances of domestic violence to specify that they do
not mean “enne de kalot”. The implications behind the humiliating act
seem to be overlooked and there is outrage only when the chastisement
is not “moderate”.
If physical violence is known to be underreported at the lower scale
of the economic ladder because of the risk of fi nding oneself homeless
and penniless, in the upper classes, it is even less reported. Patriarchy
cuts across society and affects everyone irrespective of their economic
status. The myth that abusers come from a certain class of people who
have low self- esteem is a fallacy; research has shown that abusers are
found in all walks of life and that many of them are successful and
confi dent individuals. In fact, their boosted egos may even increase
their sense of entitlement and lead to worse abuse. And women in the
upper social ladder are not always less dependent on the spouse for their
economic well-being. Dependency means that they have few options
and few resources to help them change their spouse’s behaviour.
Yes, we do have laws: the Protection against Domestic Violence Act
is in our statute books but our women will continue to be battered for as
long as they are economically dependent on their spouses.
And this is not likely to change anytime soon: female unemployment
is three times higher than male unemployment. And, if you want
to know what most women have to aspire to, below is the complete
list of the 25 jobs they will be trained for as specifi ed in the Economic
Restructuring and Competitiveness Programme: baby sitter, child care
worker, baker/pastry maker, barmaid, bookbinder, bus conductor, carer,
cleaner, housemaid, laundry attendant, cook, craftswoman, gardener,
housekeeper/housemaid, kitchen helper, knitter, midwife, nursery attendant,
pattern maker/cutter, planter/farmer, printer/press operator,
security guard, home based work ( textile), waitress. What a fi eld day for
those sociopaths and psychopaths parading as husbands and partners!
As for women, there are two options: either they take karate lessons or
they continue to work on those smiles which hide the pain and shame.
The end is not nigh.
weekly@lexpress.mu

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