Objective women men
Göttingen social scientist: "Constant objectification of women favors violence"
Around every third day in Germany a woman is killed by her partner or ex-partner. Every fourth person is a victim of physical or sexual assault at least once in a partnership. Control also plays a major role in domestic violence, says Ksenia Meshkova from the Social Science Research Institute in Göttingen on gender issues. If the man loses dominance in such a relationship, this means a danger for the partner. "But that doesn't always translate into physical abuse," she says. The attempt at control in itself is already a form of violence. "The partner tries to influence the woman emotionally and psychologically in such a way that she would never leave him," she says. This often goes hand in hand with sexual violence.
This type of devaluation also includes harassment in the workplace or on the street, says Meshkova. Other forms are cultural violence, for example forced marriages. Although this rarely occurs in Western societies, there is “a constant objectification of women, which in turn favors violence”.
Acts of violence have structure
These acts of violence have a structure, says Lilian Hümmler, sociologist at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main. “In general, violence is inconceivable without systems of rule,” she says. The hierarchies between the sexes have grown over centuries and are culturally and socially shaped. “This is how different forms of addiction came about,” she says. Examples of this are women who do unpaid care work such as household chores, child-rearing or caring for relatives and are thus tied to a single breadwinner, or also highly hierarchical jobs that make it impossible to address incidents of violence.
According to Hümmler, these power structures are not permanently secured. “They have to be enforced again and again,” she says. Violence then arises "at the breakpoints of power, as Hannah Arendt said," when images of masculinity are questioned. This is the case, for example, in separation processes or around pregnancy, if the partner is no longer the focus because of the child.
Sexual violence is normalized
This is part of the so-called rape culture, says sociologist Hümmler. This is understood to mean a context in which rape is widespread and sexual violence is normalized, for example in the media and pop culture. This culture is also shaped by rape myths, for example that those affected provoke assaults through their behavior, says Hümmler.
Femicide must be viewed as a separate criminal offense
According to the federal government, a woman dies every second to third day at the hand of her partner or ex-partner. Christa Stolle, federal manager of the women's rights organization Terre des Femmes, like other women's rights activists, demands that femicide (murder of women because they are women) be viewed as a separate criminal offense in Germany.
In Germany, violence in partnerships is statistically evaluated by the Federal Criminal Police Office. The most recent figures relate to the year 2017. Those for the past year are to be published at the end of November. 113,965 women were victims of violence in a partnership in 2017, 147 women died.
The Federal Family Ministry understands this to mean the criminal offenses (groups) of murder and manslaughter, bodily harm, rape and sexual assault against former and current partners. For 2017, threats, stalking, psychological coercion, deprivation of liberty, pimping and forced prostitution were also included for the first time.
The United Nations denounces these abuses every year on November 25th with the "International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women". "Sexual violence against women and girls is based on decades of male dominance," said UN Secretary General António Guterres on Remembrance Day last year. There are still gender inequalities that fuel the rape culture.
The day of remembrance and action has been around since the 1980s. But not enough has changed in the last few decades, says social scientist Meshkova. Men still make important decisions for women, women murders are trivialized as family dramas. A number in particular shows the need for action, says Meshkova: “Overall crime has declined in the last 40 or 50 years. The number of feminicides remains stable. "
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