It is shocking how common stabbing to death by men is a cause of death for women.
In the past month alone a 21 year old, Laura Davies, was stabbed to death by her boyfriend near a pony sanctuary in Essex. Another British woman, Jennifer Williams, 25, was stabbed to death by her partner too. In Delhi, a 19 year old woman was stabbed to death this weekend, and in Lakewood, USA, a woman was stabbed to death by her son. On Saturday, in Denver, a woman was stabbed to death by the father of her five children, and on Sunday, yet another woman was stabbed to death and dumped in a Bronx park in New York – the police are questioning her ex-boyfriend.
The percentage of men who believe that husbands are justified in violating their wives is chilling across the African continent too. For instance, in Uganda 44% of men think it is okay to beat their wives for burning their food, going out without asking them or saying no to sex with them. In Congo, the percentage is 62% and in the Central African Republic it is 75%, all according to the think-tank Afri-Dev.
Basically, from Asia to Europe to America to Africa, brutal violence against girls and women is deeply ingrained into global culture.
In Unos Cuantos Piquetitos (A Few Little Pricks), a 1935 painting by the Mexican celebrity artist, Frida Kahlo, she depicts perfectly, if with horror and repugnance, the bloody nature of the violence that women experience at the hands of men. A Few Little Pricks is a visualisation of an actual incident which took place in Mexico, when a man, having stabbed his partner to death in an act of jealousy, defended his actions with the words, “But it was just a few little pricks!”
I am thinking of those words today – just a few little pricks – and about how many women indeed die from a “few little pricks”, and about how many women will forever continue to die from stabbings until brutal male violence against women is recognised as the savage and barbaric behaviour it is. As always, I am inspired by how perfectly Kahlo captures the fragility of womanhood in a male-dominant world. And yet, in being the passionate raconteur of women’s stories, Kahlo simultaneously reverses the dynamic. As she herself put it,
Passion is the bridge that takes you from pain to change.
It is no wonder that her art both emboldens us and forces us to see what we otherwise so willingly ignore.
Ese Obrimah says
I remember ethics class in my (all girls) high school. The teacher made it a case to hammer into our heads that it is -biblically- wrong to deny your husband sex. I also remember us asking her if the same rule applied for men denying their wives sex and I don’t remember her answering the question. I also remember her saying there is no such thing as rape in marriage. The problem with gender violence in Africa is that women seem to have accepted it as a part of culture and most times when issues regarding a man physically abusing his wife, the first question some people (especially women) will ask is “what did she do wrong?” I think it’s extremely important that women realize that they are being wronged while simultaneously teaching the men that they are doing wrong.
Sigh. How can a woman teach young girls such disempowering and dangerous teachings. It is sad indeed, Ese, that women have come to see their own oppression as the norm. A lot of consciousness raising needed.
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