The Mindless Menace of Violence againest Women

Aeschylus
“He who learns must suffer. Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, and against our will, comes wisdom by the awful grace of God.”

While single and even married I did all the cooking, laundry,food shopping. I paid all the bills. I would wake up every morning and make sure that my family had breakfast on the table ready for them before they got up. My mom made me learn how to cook,clean, sew and bake. She wanted me not to be dependent on any woman. My Dad embedded in me the idea that to be violent toward women is a reflection on my own weakness. Even while being in the Military and seeing the horrific things that men can to to each other in the name of “honor” I never had the urge to take out that horror on a woman

The reason we took notice of 30-year-old Reeva Steenkamp’s death among so many others killed every day is the shocking news that the man charged with killing her, her boyfriend, is none other than Oscar Pistorius, the athlete known as “Blade Runner,” a double amputee whose Olympic feats on prosthetic carbon fiber legs made him an international superstar.

But given what has been credibly written about him personally, Oscar Pistorius was transfixed by the dark side of the moon.

There is no question that many societies are finally becoming fed up with the much-too-common practice of attacking, raping and killing women that goes on in all corners of the world.

The perpetrators of these crimes are cowards, using superior physical force to intimidate or exert power. We have come to know some of their victims.

Remember Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl targeted by the Taliban because she proclaimed that every girl has a right to an education. She has survived and vowed to continue her struggle despite the Taliban’s promise they will try to kill her. The contrast in courage could not be starker.

Then there is Nirbhaya, the New Delhi university student who was gang raped in a bus. She died of her horrific injuries, but her assault moved India and the entire world so deeply that her legacy has fueled the battle to stop this violence.

Earlier this month, in a case gruesomely reminiscent of Nirbhaya, 17-year-old Anene Booysen was raped, killed, mutilated and left for dead, in the South African city of Capetown.

. According to U.N. statistics, one in three women will experience violence in her lifetime, including beating, rape or assault, making such violence a more prevalent problem than AIDS, malaria or any other disease. It means 1 billion women alive at this moment will become part of that statistic, .

The problem has deep roots and far-reaching ramifications. Women have endured the use of rape as a weapon of war, and domestic violence as a tool of control at home.

Domestic violence is one of those old traditions that should have died long ago. A 2012 study by UNICEF found most youngsters in India believe wife-beating is justified. But other surveys found the problem knows no national boundaries. The U.N. says about 14,000 Russian women die every year from domestic violence.

In some countries, women are subjected to violence as retaliation for other family members’ or their own perceived offenses in so-called “honor killings.”

In war zones, fighters rape women to humiliate their enemies, to perpetrate “ethnic cleansing” and to force people to leave. An incredible 92% of Liberian women in one study said they had been raped in that country’s war. As you read this, women are being raped in Syria, in the Congo and in other countries where wars rage. After the violation, many of them will be rejected by their families.

Violence against women tends to go hand in hand with lack of equality. It also is a sign of a malfunctioning society. It is a stubborn problem, but one that responds to measures, such as those just approved after a perplexing political battle in the United States.

As the world changes, as countries emerge from poverty and people fight for their rights, we can look to the level of violence against women as one of the gauges of their success. The Arab Human Development Reports of 2002 and 2005 said the low status of women is one of the reasons Arab countries had stagnated, calling the rise of women “a prerequisite for an Arab renaissance.”

Pistorius’ South Africa, a country with a storied history in the fight for racial equality, has a disturbing record of violence against women.

Any country, any society that wants to move forward and earn a place of honor among the nations must make it a priority to teach men from the earliest age that violence against women in any form is unacceptable, and those who hurt or intimidate women should be punished. They are men by gender only.

City Club of Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio
April 5, 1968

This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity, my only event of today, to speak briefly to you about the mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.

It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one – no matter where he lives or what he does – can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on and on in this country of ours.

Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr’s cause has ever been stilled by an assassin’s bullet.

No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of reason.

Whenever any American’s life is taken by another American unnecessarily – whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence – whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.

“Among free men,” said Abraham Lincoln, “there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs.”

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire.

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach non-violence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is the slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man’s spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all.

I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies, to be met not with cooperation but with conquest; to be subjugated and mastered.

We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community; men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear, only a common desire to retreat from each other, only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this, there are no final answers.

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children’s future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanquish it with a program, nor with a resolution.

But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men, and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again.

Kennedy recited these lines by Aeschylus on announcing the death of Martin Luther King, Jr.

“He who learns must suffer. Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, and against our will, comes wisdom by the awful grace of God.”

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