“Women choosing bad partners is not the whole story of domestic violence. Indeed, domestic violence is not the whole story, either, of violence against women.
“Girls and women do also get raped and killed by complete strangers. Just getting into a taxi can bring this upon us. Not all female victims of violence choose their killer or rapist.”
The following response to the issue of domestic violence, raised recently by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, is a joint statement from Workingwomen (Women Working for Social Progress) and WINAD (Women’s Institute for Alternative Development):
Of course women and men have to choose their partners with care. Of course Dr Rowley spoke the truth when he made that comment—in Maloney, on 6 February 2017. But one cannot imagine that the Prime Minister believes this to be the whole truth about violence against women.
Unfortunately, the off-the-cuff comment has diverted attention away from the larger picture, and therein lies the danger.
In rushing to the defence of the PM, people are seeking to reduce the whole public discussion to that one fragment of the truth. They are rejecting the more holistic responses of women’s organisations that have applied deeper thinking and research to the problem.
Reducing the problem to our choice of partners is like saying, as a response to children underperforming in school, “Children need to make an effort to get to school on time.”
Of course they do; but not all underperforming students are habitual latecomers. There are many other reasons for low performance in school: undiagnosed conditions such as poor sight or hearing, malnutrition, and dyslexia; family violence; ignorance and neglect of the needs of children; insufficient training of teachers in remedial methods; inappropriate curricula…
Women choosing bad partners is not the whole story of domestic violence. Indeed, domestic violence is not the whole story, either, of violence against women.
Girls and women do also get raped and killed by complete strangers. Just getting into a taxi can bring this upon us. Not all female victims of violence choose their killer or rapist.
Those commentators who are blocking out all the other deep-seated causes of violence against women are doing women and the whole society a disservice. Those causes need to be also identified and addressed.
We welcome ongoing conversations between the political directorate and citizens as part of the structure of governance, and fruitful discussions of social problems can take place in such fora. However, such discussion requires smaller, more manageable gatherings, and professional input on the topic in focus.
If the diagnosis of a problem is not well-informed and thorough, the solution will fall short.