Tuesday, 30 June 2015

it's a woman thing.... days as dark as nights.....domestic violence

It’s a Woman Thing……………………………written by Amy Pearl 

What cost domestic violence? The days are dark as nights. Sexual and family violence in New Zealand, as estimated by the Ministry for Women, comes in at a combined 6.5 billion dollars per year.  Each of us would need to pay  $1415 to cover the financial cost of these two specific forms of violence. Women’s Refuge supports a higher figure of 8 billion dollars per year for domestic violence alone.

Most forms of violence are due to friction between opposing groups over resources and ultimately, to control and dominate another or many.  Women fall into both categories and the power relations between women and men are the most fundamental of all social division. Gendered violence produces itself from structural inequality and inorganic gender roles and remains a pernicious ailment of humanity at its lowest point, a disease eating away at the best we’ve found in social bonds. Violence directed specifically at women is endemic across the world; the most prevalent form against women is domestic violence and dozens of nations have no laws against it.

Steadily the number of disclosed incidents rise and police estimate that only 18-25% of domestic violence incidents in New Zealand are reported. There are now close to 100, 000 family violence investigations each year. If we consider that, we can assume there could be a further 455,000 cases that go unreported this year. Our courts engage with about 20 prosecutions of assault on women by men each court day, 91% of protection orders are made by women and we can currently expect the death of a woman in New Zealand every 8 weeks in a domestic dispute. Women’s Refuge receives on average a call every 9 minutes of every day. (recently updated to a call every 6 minutes 8-7-15)

There are too many variables muddying the waters for a clear picture to know how invasive this form of violence is. The most basic of assumptions is that the numbers are great and they offer us a minimalist view. A domestic violence case report might only refer to a specific incident or the worst of violent acts.  How hard it is to document torment committed hour after hour, day by day and year by year. Many women don’t think they can leave and they’re traumatised, enslaved and powerless, they’re broken. Women are too often subjected to wait at courtrooms with their aggressor and go home in fear. Descriptions of torment portray a battlefield with all the weariness and terror of the landscape of war. These are crimes against women, our whole community and humanity.

From the centre of a violent act is the ripple of physical, mental, social or economic strain, lives under duress and generations caught in the repercussions and cycles of violence. One hundred years on and we’re still living with the psychological detriments of the World Wars.  We can expect nothing less from domestic violence, this trans-national, multi-faceted, never-ending aggression. I estimate a global wall of remembrance of those women dead by a violent male hand to stretch far beyond the lives of soldiers lost in conventional state run wars.

There’s not enough coverage of any one of the violent acts upon woman. We have to be keyed in or aware of the nuances to bare witness to the reflections of the various forms of violence in our nation and across our world.  Just as the perpetrator of domestic violence needs the veil of privacy and intimacy to hide their crime, society as a whole has been cast in a veil of not knowing.  Somewhere along the line woman’s plight is being muffled.

We need more comprehensive services to protect and assist women in danger especially as trends point to the problem getting worse.  Look to Australia and count the figures, 2 dead women each week, in the UK a woman dead every 3 days, look to India and we lose 22 women a day, the ones we know of.  New Zealand has won a place on the United Nations Security Council, but what of home security?  What of the international war of domestic terror? Not to be taken seriously when no one earns a penny from this war, women aren’t as precious as oil, trade agreements don’t hinge on a woman’s smacked face and globally it’s still a man’s world.

Women face rights violations in every town and city of New Zealand and funding for safety nets are shamefully scarce.  How is it possible that we close organisations that exist solely to support and protect women and children from violent crime?  How can we let services that prevent women from sleeping cold close their doors? Why is it the services we have must beg for resources?  Without volunteers and donations women would be surviving in a dark hell. Victims of violence deserve access to specialist independent services regardless of whether they report, regardless of whether they fit a confined criterion and can’t conform.

Science and philosophy state the two evolutionary tricks humans use to evolve are language and cognitive structure; it’s here where society’s perspective on violence needs to change. It’s known that gendered stereotypes promote abuse; condemning a message on the side of a rental van which jokes about drowning ‘the wife’ is a small measure but one that needs to be taken.  Everyday sexism needs to be expunged by everyone at every level, and women need to be supported when they speak out, not degraded and threatened with rape and violence.

If gender inequality gives rise to violence against women, then that violence is preventable. What’s wrong with our institutions?  What’s wrong with our men?  There must be a cultural deficit, a power complicit with inequality and an assorted box of institutional misdirection and negligence at play. The recent case of the ‘Roast Busters’, is one example of the cultural deficit and institutional negligence I refer. The murder of the Livingstone  children in Dunedin had red flags flying all the way to the final sad fateful day.

Perpetrators of misogynistic and threatening behaviour need to be challenged by more non-violent men.  National and community leaders need to make the security of women a priority. This is a pressing issue and our nation’s people are being repressed.  Where is woman’s respect?

Our mostly male parliament should begin the process of public denunciation and commit to a world free of gender specific violence.  Each Minister should make a statement denouncing what is a national and worldwide scourge whilst committing the government to turning the tide. Committing to not cutting areas women occupy before ensuring our rights are secure. Not having state housing available for our most vulnerable is a fine indication of where current values lie and there is no justifiable excuse. What is our collective attitude for prioritising the budget towards social welfare against growing the buck? Money rarely talks compassion.

All due respect should be given the Minister For Women, the position should not be outside of Cabinet as it is today. Leaders of good standards lead by good example. We should never have a Prime Minister that pull’s a woman’s hair. Socially, the perpetrators of male violence against women need to loose status amongst their male piers for what is unacceptable and criminal behaviour. The conversation needs to change, derogatory remarks usually beget derogatory behaviour, just as violence begets violence and on the story goes.

At what stage do we decide we’re beyond crisis point?  Is it when more than one in three women has violence enacted upon them as they do today?  I’ve heard said  ‘things have changed’ and ‘it’s not like it used to be’, I don’t buy that, it sounds like defeat with nothing laid to rest.   New Zealand and our species have higher places to go.

Women’s Refuge Annual Appeal runs in New Zealand throughout July

Since publication of this essay Women's Refuge have updated their figures to a call for help every 6 minutes......how far the ripple. 

Friday, 23 May 2014

Women of the world

Our noon has come to dine.

 Our place at the table is set.

Our path to this moment was won by 

women before us.

Wave upon wave.

 They understood the significance of 

securing our place 

at the table of politics.

They lay the table bare and gave to us the 

opportunity we have this day.

Our current position is unprecedented.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

What would our world be tomorrow if every woman cast an informed uncoerced vote today?

. Shall we imagine.

Since when have women had the right to vote in almost every country? 
 Answer:  Since NOW

.Our position is unprecedented .
Thanks to yesterday's women and current endevours we have a choice. 
In the political world, we are in play.

It is our right to vote.

How can all women vote against all odds?

How does a woman vote when a husband directs his gaze upon her?
How does a woman vote when brandished with a gun?
How does a woman nurture children when voting can take days?
Who earns her income? 
Which woman risks her life to vote?

How does she vote when overwhelmingly it is woman who can not read and write?
How do we instil the importance of this basic civil act in our youth?
How do we reignite the apathetic & awaken the unknowing?
How do we give hope to those who think one vote does not count?

How do we ensure elections are free and fair?
How do we ensure there is a candidate to advocate for us?

How do we get there?

The Woman's Vote has been a dream, one threaded through into reality.
Do we let it fray?  
Do we stop treading for peace on earth?

With odds against us, our time calls.
We continue to further our position, we try. 
Tomorrow is tomorrow, today is NOW.

As sure as sunrise can seem a dream, it is real to us.  
What new light will this day bring?

Can we achieve what's not been done?

What would our world be tomorrow if every woman voted today? 

What will we hear when
Women Everywhere Always Vote at Elections.

.we weave.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

to the women the wahini of New Zealand Aotearoa

Kua roa kē te wā e pōti ana ētahi tāngata.   Some people have had the vote for a long time.

Remember our pride, the year we won civic freedom.

New Zealand, the first nation to secure voting rights for women in 1893.

The stones of our political foundation.


What is it to vote?
A vote is a power and an expression of an opinion, ideal, hope and definition.
To declare oneself as being, in a democracy of the people.
Voting is a tool, it’s a choice.
What have we if we have no choice?

As women our current political position is unprecedented.
We need to further dissolve the bonds that prevent our participation in the political world.
The political world resides in all spheres of our lives, public and private. 

Good seed, good soil.
In Mary Ann Muller's pamphlet
'An Appeal to the Men Of New Zealand' of 1869, she asked  
"How long are we to remain a wholly unrepresented people?"  
She clearly observed and rightly envisaged 
"Our women are brave and strong, with an amount of self-reliance, courage and freedom from conventionalities eminently calculated to form a great nation".
She demanded
"Give them scope". 
Mary Ann Muller challenged
"This change is coming, but why is New Zealand only to follow?
Why not take the initiative?" 

( be introduced to Mary Ann Muller in Judith Devaliant's 1992 book on the fight for women's votes in New Zealand )

Judith Devaliant quotes Richard Seddon who helped defeat the woman’s suffrage of 1879 say

“...if you give too much power you unsex woman”.

 Others described woman’s suffrage as

“this filthy thing”  

described women as

 “miserable fanatics, idiotic faddists and narrow minded bigots whose moral judgment must be warped and valueless, because they are engaged in the noble work of raising the wretched and protecting the weak”.

We continue our noble work.

While every day we suffer gender abuses, we are born to and reside in a peaceful and privileged nation. 

We have politically participated over the previous 120 years to create the good island we have today.

This gives our cause greater potency.

We’re in a position to effect further change within and beyond our shores.

We don’t all vote.

The systems in which we reside have us met with apathy.
Have we have forgotten the power of the vote and how to utilise it.
Are we disconnected?
Does a prevailing culture distract us?
It could appear privilege is enough and action not warranted.  
The blinkers are on or our education systems have failed.
And as we allow poverty, inequality and the exclusive society to persist, there will always be the silent voice. 

Women face rights violations in every town and city of New Zealand today.

We live within a system where there are rules of engagement.
The nature of our system will change with the environment we provide.
Our current systems faults are due to the current environment.
We must continue to meet with the failings to secure a better future.
Our time to do that is within our time.
Political freedom is available to us.
We can vote.

Voter turnout usually sits at around 80%.
Social issues go some way to explaining why 20% of us do not vote.
At the General Election of 2011, voter turnout fell to an all-time low of 73%.
Complacency and perhaps a little lack of faith in the system, now falls into the fray of why New Zealanders do not vote. 

Ma te rangatahi pea o tēnei rā e whatu he kanoi kōrero. Perhaps the youth today will weave a strand of history. (WEAVE)

A total of 77% of those eligible to vote in the 18 to 24 year old bracket were enrolled to vote by Election Day in 2011.

What have we demonstrated to our youth to say voting is of no relevance, to blame youth for failing to participate?
Leadership and the dispersal of knowledge is a role for who?

The woman who led the struggle for women’s votes in New Zealand, Kate Sheppard, noted the benefits for future women.
Yes, it resonates today.

In her Franchise Report of 1891 Kate wrote:

“Slowly but surely, our cause is gaining ground. The principal of the rights of the individual irrespective of sex may be said to have taken root, and while it still needs to be carefully nourished, so that its roots may strike deeper, and the branches spread far and wide yet the blighting influences of prejudice and self-interest are gradually dying away, and we trust will soon vanish all together.”

Good things do take time.
We maintain hope.

The future will provide its own challenges to further generations of women. What position will we have them in to enact change and live fulfilled lives?

Such a fall if we drop the chain.
Do we give our daughters a path to begin their walk?

We can demonstrate to women everywhere that we understand our rights and see the potential fruit of our task.

To; Women everywhere
 always vote at elections. Weave.

Deeds louder than words
action a spoken language.
Words spoken to explain deeds
no substitute for them.
Words define our aims
voting enacts upon them.
As we vote,
our action incontrovertible
It has been said.

By casting our vote we remain relevant within a system that frames us.
By voting we work to obtain and maintain our freedoms.
Vote to potentially create a better world for all.

Where women’s lives are improved all benefit.
By voting we attach ourselves to every issue.
By voting we select people who represent our interests.

By voting we walk with women everywhere.

We travel through the abuses of power relationships, we cast a withdrawal of support and diminish them from our world.

One woman’s struggle, one injustice, one failure, one inadequacy within the system is our problem to rectify.

The vote is one of the many tools we have by which we secure our world.

By voting we own the struggle.

There is no need for our divisions of life choices to distract us from the overall position of Womanhood.

Do we say it’s not important, worth an effort, a swell?

Could all women of Aotearoa be registered to vote?
Can we all vote on Election Day?
Cast our vote on the day we’ve been called?

What song would be heard?

Whatever our opinion, whatever the walls which prevent us, we must participate.

We can enact today's thread and carry the chain of tomorrow on which all hangs.
Create some fine choice with women everywhere. 
Surfs up, its epic.
We are in line to break through.

Rise good wave, as one inherit womanhood.  

Let us see how far the ripple.

“And now we await that ‘to-morrow’ on which so much hangs. Shall we be singing a ‘Jubilate’ or wailing a funeral dirge? If the later, one thing is certain that a resurrection will soon take place, and that of the most lively character. Women suffrage can never again be buried; the very stones would cry out against such an outrage. But we do not anticipate failure, the very worst that can happen is postponement.”  Kate Sheppard, 1892.

                                                      Meri Te Tai Mangakahia.
                      Adressed Maori parliament for membership & Women's Votes  in 1893.

                      The first meeting of New Zealand's National Council of Women. April 1896

                                               . the stones of our foundation.

 J.Devaliant. A Biography. Kate Sheppard. The Fight for Women's vote in New Zealand. 1992. (isbn: 014 0 17614 4) Penguin.


Wednesday, 12 June 2013

.her story.....the global position

There was a ripple in our modern world.

From this wave, voting rights for women were first won in 1893 in our land of the long white cloud, New Zealand.  Our right to vote has been enshrined on the political page.

It has taken a little over a century to have this essential political right won by women around the world.

The tapestry of our first political wave has not been simplistic nor is it complete. Women continue to fight a brave battle. Obtaining our loom, lives have been given and taken. We protested in peace, we continued to love. We protest for peace, we love.

Through political activism women have won the right to vote in all but a few countries where our right is denied or conditioned. There are states trying to erode our abilities to enact our power of the vote. There are many places where casting a vote is dangerous or impossible for women.

To date our participation in the political system has created positive outcomes. We're eloquent with our newly won tools.

We’ve been effecting legislation, influencing political doctrine, changing the rule of law. We are participating and excelling within the freedoms now available to us.

Women are proven champions of peace, for children, the underprivileged and the environment. Through the political process we have improved the lives of women and all people for the better.

The institutions that govern and structure our lives are for the most, the exclusive construct of men. Our conduct of life has been created in the domain of man.

Anyone of the ideologies language has given his house, nationalism, socialism, fascism, religious fundamentalism, capitalism; women have had to serve and work to support the isms.

Women have been institutionalised, sanctioned. Enforced upon to contribute to a system that is not of our making.

Gender is the most fundamental of all social divisions.

Today women face violations of their rights in every town and city of each nation of the world. We are half of this world and are often referred to as a minority people.

We are the majority of those in poverty. 
Most of us cannot read and write.
We are the larger portions of the labor force. 
We’re paid the least, abused the most.

Our current position is reflected in all politics today.

We have been globalised in the process; we play a significant role in competitive trading.

We play a role.

Within these systems the majority of us have been cast in positions where we are made victims.

Women are victims of war, progress, economics, domestic and sexual violence and consumerism.

We are cheap labor; our bonds are deeper than the dollar.

We are overwhelmingly responsible for family and household.

We are the first to feel cutbacks in employment opportunities, health, education, social security and welfare.

State services will look to cut areas we occupy before ensuring our rights are secure.

These things make us expendable to the current system. We occupy the assembly line.

Most changes to women's voting rights have been more recent than the South Pacific ripple of 1893.

It can be a struggle in itself for our memory to not forget.

Swiss women won the right to vote in 1971. In South Africa white women in 1931, Indian and coloured women in 1984 and black women in 1994.

By voting and being able and willing to vote, we've begun to define our role and are participating in constructing an evolving system. We continue to create the world around us.

The first wave continues to roll across our ocean. It will break to shore once all women have the right to vote. It will rise again should our vote be threatened or lost.

In its wake came the second wave of political woman. A surge to obtain positions of power and change the status quo.

The second wave further implements strategies to secure and admit women to governance, to define and secure our rights in all arenas of life, public and private.

What may appear simple, safety, a day without a sexist remark, access to water & mid-wives, school books, education, the freedom to ware trousers or a short skirt, eaqual pay, a license to drive, obtaining a divorce, property and autonomy of self, body and soul, have been hard won battles not all yet won. For those won on paper, not all as yet to materialise.

The struggle continues.

In 1979 women won what was essentially our first International Bill of Rights. It is still contested to one degree or another. 

In 1993 at The World Conference on Human Rights, our rights were at last recognised as human and we, as women.

By the year 2000 we were permitted under the Convention to take our complaints of rights violations to the United Nations.

We are operating within the system.

Our right to choose how we live in society as women is not given.

We fought for and justifiably won the right to participate in the political sphere.

This began with the vote.

As today slips into tomorrow, our political waves perpetuate the movement begun by the women (& a few good fellow's) before us.

They inspire us to keep treading.

Our current position is unprecedented...

Saturday, 8 June 2013

a woman who lives here votes

Women of the world 
Our noon has come to dine.
 Our place at the table is set.  
Our path to this moment was won by women before us. 
Wave upon wave.
 They understood the significance of securing our place at the table of politics. 
They lay the table bare and gave to us the opportunity we have this day.

.our current position is unprecedented.