|Women's Hall of Famer Anne Hoiberg|
"Where is the outrage?" Anne Hoiberg asked the women who gathered for the American Association of University Women's monthly meeting last Saturday at the Huntington Beach Meadowlark Golf Course.
Hoiberg, past president of the San Diego chapter of the United Nations Association of the USA, additionally served as the director of the Association's Women's Equity Council from 1987 to 2009. A research psychologist, she has written two books, Women and the World of Work, and Women as New "Manpower." The AAUW newsletter had announced her topic for this date as "Stopping Violence Against Women."
But right before she was introduced a woman sitting next to me shook her head and whispered to me, "Why don't they find something more entertaining than such depressing subjects?" I understood her reluctance to hear more on a topic that so many of us had hoped would fade from headlines decades earlier...we'd thought that the issue would be resolved. It hasn't.
Initially in her PowerPoint Hoiberg provided the United Nations Declaration of 1995 definition on what constitutes violence against women: "any act of gender-based violence that results in physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering in women and girls, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life."
Then she clicked on a slide that provided some nightmarish figures that I can't shake from my mind.
According to the United States Department of Justice's Office of Violence Against Women, more women in the States were murdered between 9/11/2001 and June 6, 2012 by husbands or boyfriends than the totals of persons killed on 9/11 at the World Trade Center and of U.S. soldiers in the subsequent Afghanistan and Iraq military actions.
Here's the statistics, 9/11/2001 to 6/12/2012:
U.S. casualties of the 9/11 terrorist attacks: 3073
U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq: 6,488
U.S. women murdered by male intimate partners: 11,766
In conclusion Hoiberg asked where the solution lies to addressing this shocking phenomena.
Several audience members offered suggestions, many asking for more commitment from community leaders, men as well as women. Hoiberg pointed out that the National Football League finally is taking a serious look at player conduct, particularly in the hubbub over the Ray Rice case.
Perhaps the day is long past when a television comedy sees fit to makes jokes about hitting women...as Jackie Gleason used to do in his threats to long suffering wife Alice in The Honeymooners. In the 1980s I worked for several years in fundraising for Long Beach YWCA/Womenshelter, a safe house for battered women and their children. At that time I had hopes that officials including pastors, law enforcement officers and judges would soon take a serious view of aggression against women and girls.
During those years I additionally was a psychiatric social worker for Los Angeles' facility for temporary housing of abused and neglected children awaiting placement by the juvenile court. I worked with the nursery, the children under age five and the staff responsible for their care and well-being. I knew first hand that many women could not adequately protect their children from their abusing partners because they themselves were abused.
Nonetheless, I have learned that women are still going to prison for not providing such protection. This article about how the systems work is a real head scratcher: "Battered, Bereaved and Behind Bars."
Recently many of us read in disbelief about the Montana judge who felt that a 14-year-old girl, raped by her teacher, looked older than her chronological age, so suspended all but one month of the accused's 15-year term. Later the girl committed suicide. A new judge took over after the case was appealed, and a more equitable verdict was reached, but the student, of course, is still dead.
All these decades later, I still wonder, with Hoiberg, where is the outrage? At the conclusion of Hoiberg's talk the woman adjacent to me that I mentioned earlier in this post admitted that the topic, though not lighthearted entertainment, indeed was suitable material for an AAUW luncheon. Several at our table agreed. More discussion and awareness is needed...certainly not less.
One social change organization with suggestions is National Network to End Domestic Violence. You can learn more about how to get involved here: http://nnedv.org/about.html