Students campaign to stop violence against women

Shayla Durrett

Amnesty International student members spoke on May 12 about the violence facing women all over the world and what needs to be done to make human rights a reality for women.

The presentation at Miramar College was part of a two-year Amnesty International campaign that began on March 5 to stop violence against women.

“Violence against women may be universal, but it may not be inevitable,” said Miramar professor and speaker Corrie Ort. “We can make a difference together. Activism is an important part of all our lives.”

The panel of students began by saying that violence against women is so dangerous because it breaks barriers of wealth, race, and culture.

“At least one in three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused,” said one of the panel members.

The reasons women are prone to violence are because men are stronger and the structure of patriarchy places men in control, said one student. The students demonstrated how our cultural climate of acceptance of violence against women is evident in song lyrics by Eminem and movies like “Mr. And Mrs. Smith.”

Nellie Coons spoke at the presentation about being a victim of domestic abuse. She suffered three broken noses, broken fingers and a broken jaw.

“I couldn’t even hold my head up,” said Coons. “I couldn’t speak. I didn’t have a voice.”

As a result of the domestic abuse, Coons made battered women’s syndrome inadmissible in the state of California in 1992.

“The violence against women is worldwide and it’s on a larger scale than just in our homes,” said Coons.

The students defined poverty as a root of violence. They said that if women are poor and deprived of an education then they will be less likely to participate in public economic and political life, making their status lower than men.

A film shown at the presentation said that women represent 70 percent of the 1.2 billion people living in poverty throughout the world.

In some cultures the virginity and chastity of the women represent the honor of their family. Sometimes women will have to go through genital cutting to ensure that they remain a virgin until marriage.

AIDS is another serious issue that was a focus of the presentation. It included how rape is used as a tool of intimidation, humiliation, political terror, extracting information, rewarding soldiers and ethnic cleansing in places like Bosnia, Sudan, Uganda and Guatemala.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo rape is used as a weapon of war.

Thousands of women and girls have been abducted or forced by desperate poverty to become sexual slaves or frontline fighters, reports Amnesty International.

The rapes and other crimes of sexual violence and killings that are being committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, yet virtually none of those responsible have been brought to justice, said Amnesty International.

In Afghanistan, women are forced to marry who their family chooses, which can lead to women being sexually abused or assaulted by their husband.

“An 8 year old girl was forced to marry a 85 year old man in Afghanistan,” said Ort.

In Third World countries, it is considered betrayal to your husband if you use a condom with him. The presentation explained that men sometimes cheat on their wives and contract AIDS and pass it on to their wives because they don’t use protection.

A video showed a campaign ad of a woman with a quote next to her saying, “Because I was faithful, I’m dying of AIDS.”

One of the panel members spoke very passionately about the violence in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Since 1993, more than 400 girls and women have been murdered, 70 are missing, and one-third has been sexually assaulted in Ciudad Juarez, said the panel member.

A video was shown of mothers talking about how their daughters have gone missing or been murdered and no one has been held accountable. According to the victims’ families, Mexican officials and police are said to be connected.