Women and men certainly have many relationship issues to contend to including love, hate, revenge, intimate terrorism, and certainly domestic abuse and violence, both verbal and physical. That fact was underscored in a movie, Honor Diaries, which I was privileged to view during its Chicago premier at the International Film Festival.
Honor Diaries features nine courageous women’s rights advocates with connections to Muslim-majority societies in the Middle East. They each experienced and/or witnessed firsthand the hardships women endure, including physical violence, and they allowed themselves to be profiled in their combined efforts to affect change, both in their communities and worldwide.
In the past 20 years, our national consciousness has been significantly raised on issues of domestic violence and how it impacts not only women and men but also the elderly and the disabled. Through the educational efforts of many groups, including law enforcement personnel, the judiciary and special interest organizations, we now know the extent of the problem and have some idea of how to protect ourselves from being victims.
Through the stories presented in the documentary, viewers are made more aware of not just domestic violence but the dramatic difference between the horror of domestic violence as we know it and the actual intentional mutilation or outright killing of women and girls in the name of family or cultural honor. For proof, one need look no further than the recent headlines about a 15-year-old Pakistani girl who was literally shot and seriously injured by the Taliban to stop her advocacy for women’s education rights. She now lives on the world’s stage which hopefully will protect her from further violence.
Lest we think that is only the problem in foreign nations, many of our U.S. cities are now centers for cultures which regard women as chattel, believing that their behavior and clothing, and comings and goings, must be controlled. There are women and girls all around us who literally live in fear of their lives and or their children’s lives should they somehow violate the code of their culture. Every male figure in their lives feels free to judge everything from their clothes to their choices in marriage and education, and to literally execute them if they decide the women are guilty. Those women do not feel protected by our laws, and their potential assassins do not yet feel constrained by them, since they are assured by their culture that they are doing God’s will.
No person, either here or abroad, should live in fear of their safety and survival because of a domineering spouse or family member. As we once again celebrate Domestic Violence Awareness Month, let us come together to reaffirm our commitment to wiping out these horrific acts.
Image courtesy of arztsamui / FreeDigitalPhotos.net