Happy International Women’s Day! (but not for all of us)

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So, here we are again. Today is the 108th International Women’s Day and while we have made huge strides in some areas, we have a very long way to go. 

Much has been written in the lead up to today. And much of it grim. I won’t even go into the Tuam babies horror here. To mark the day I thought I’d post a compilation of important pieces about how women are (still) being treated in the 21st century. It’s not terrifically cheery reading so you might want to stop now. I understand, I really do.

Firstly, relatively recently (2014) the  FRA published their report entitled Violence Against Women: an EU wide survey. The results were truly startling, and the PDF of results in summary is here.

Below is a quick glance at just one table where we can see how (badly) Ireland fares. The figures are percentages, and IE refers to Ireland.  27% or Irish women have experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence. This is not good.

Violence against women in Europe

Violence against women in Europe

Then there are Irish womens’ experiences of online sexual harassment. Below is a summary graph of the findings:

Online harassment of women 2012

Online harassment of women

 

Again. This is grim. And note, these are percentages including girls from the age of 15. In Ireland. Your daughters, nieces, friends, classmates. But they are probably not be talking about it to you, and now we also have the stats to confirm what we suspected of how little reporting is done.

The report summary is difficult reading, but I encourage you to browse it anyway. We need to acknowledge to extent of the Human Rights Violations that women here and in our neighbouring countries experience on a daily basis.

There have been several uploads of videos of women speaking about their experiences of violence, and this one is worth a listen – again, trigger warning, it’s not easy to hear. But it’s important that we know. The Irish Independent is carrying an article today around violence against women and the double whammy of how our justice system deals with the issue, if they get that far.

Another piece that caught my eye was a report called “Blurred Lines? Sexual Aggression and Barroom Culture” : (A nod to Robin Thicke, winner of the ‘most sexist songwriter of the year ‘ 2013. That’s sexist, not sexiest. If you need a little reminder of that song’s lyrics here y’go:

He sounds just lovely. #Not

He sounds just lovely. #Not

Charming … Dammit now it’s stuck in my head. He can write a good tune alright…)

What is unusual about that study is that it’s the first that I have seen to investigate and record the degree to which women are harassed and assaulted while out socialising, and the degree to which it has become normalised. It also specifically looks at intoxication. The authors conclude that alcohol is not a factor in “causing” the behaviour of the “aggressor” but is a factor in their choice of “target”. For a good non academic write up on the study click here.

Chilling stuff. But hardly surprising, despite the “ah sure I was drunk” excuse still being bandied about in Irish discourse. Any woman who reads these results will find them eerily familiar.

I certainly do.

And if you haven’t already – then please read Asking For It by Louise O’Neill – it’s an incredibly well observed portrait of modern teen-dom and our Rape Culture.

Finally, at the risk of bombarding you with depressing figures, I came across this study looking at sexual violence and coercion among teenagers. Reality Check did a good report on it here if you don’t want to read the academic version.

Again, there are no surprises there for me, and I appreciate that that’s because of my work, and my client base. But you need to know this. These are your children, your friends, you classmates.  Someone you care about may be a victim, they may be a perpetrator.

Information is power. Until we know what’s going wrong we can’t make it right. On the upside, at least we’re talking about it! It’s a great start. And if you have something to say, fell free to comment below – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

My dream is of a time when we can ditch International Women’s Day as an outdated and unnecessary event in our calendar. A time where all women feel respected, safe, equal.

Until that day, let’s keep working, and Happy and safe International Women’s Day to you all.

*For a live update of events globally today click here!! It’s pretty cool!

 

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