Femmes en Détresse general director Andrée Birnbaum says initiatives such as Orange Week are necessary because violence against women still exists and is not decreasing.
Orange Week was launched in 2008 by the United Nations Secretary-General to raise public awareness about violence against women and to end gender-based violence.
The Istanbul Convention, ratified in August 2018 in Luxembourg, defines violence against women as: “all acts of gender-based violence that result in, or are likely to result in, physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering to women.”
Violence against women really does exist, in large numbers and has many faces.
They can be physical, verbal, sexual, psychological or economic, but all forms have one thing in common: they address women precisely because they are women.
Now every time this theme is raised in a private, official or professional context, I hear people say: “But men are also victims of violence”! Yes, but we're talking about violence against women here. If you talk about your dog with your veterinarian, you are not interested in his opinion on parrot health.
In these evictions, 203 perpetrators of violence were male against 14 female perpetrators.
The figures seem clear enough not to fall back on the above discussion.
Two weeks ago, while waiting for my train at the station, I saw a group of young people on the platform across the street fighting as if they were pushing each other on the tracks. These were mainly young boys, aged about 13-15. I plunged back into my reading, shaking my head. Suddenly I heard a scream of distress from a young girl. Three boys held her by her arms and feet and pulled her up on a high window ledge, behind her a possible fall of about 20 metres. No one around moved until a gentleman who worked in the area went to see. The boys let go of the girl who was crying and shaking.
Imagine the same scene: 3 girls trying to throw a young boy off a window sill... well, you see... it's really hard to imagine, isn't it? Nothing happened, fortunately, but the very fact that the boys were having fun scaring this young girl should make us think.
When should we start raising awareness?
Shouldn't we discuss values such as respect, tolerance, non-violent communication, mutual aid etc. from an early age? Should we not teach our children and youth that there is nothing funny about attacking more vulnerable people?
I believe that initiatives such as Orange Week are unfortunately necessary because violence against women still exists and is not decreasing.
But I believe that the general public should be informed throughout the year about these themes, not only through campaigns. Two women have been killed by their partners in recent months (in Luxembourg), this has generated a lot of questions and articles in the press for a while, a week or a little more.
At Femmes en Détresse (women in distress), we meet women who are victims of violence every day, each woman has a particular history, a difficult experience, sometimes children are also victims of violence, sexual, genital mutilation, domestic violence or other.
The ratification of the Istanbul Convention seemed to me to be a very good opportunity to combat all forms of violence against women.
However, I am disappointed that our government has decided to make an “Istanbul Convention for All”, i.e. to put all forms of violence on an equal footing and include them in the Istanbul Convention. This is not the spirit of this Convention, which precisely speaks of specific violence against women.
Let's get things straight!
The Istanbul Convention is not yet fully implemented, many measures still need to be put in place. Changes in the law are needed, but also a change in mentality. There is still a lot of work ahead of us, and I hope that the next time you hear about violence against women you will think about the dog and the parrot.
Femmes en Détresse is a not-for-profit supporting women and girls who are victims of violence through its shelters and information and consultation services.