lørdag 31. januar 2009

Mitt innlegg i Strasbourg om Feminicide

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. I call Ms Woldseth, on behalf of the European Democrat Group.

Ms WOLDSETH (Norway). – I thank the rapporteur for producing this important report. On the website, YouTube, there is a video from a girl in Mexico who tells us about the killing of her sister by her brothers. In her city, more than 500 girls and women are missing. In the video, she proclaims that “feminicide” is a political word. Actually, I agree with her. Why use a technical term and make something sound less terrible when what it really means is killing girls and women because they are girls and women? We have to be careful not to wrap up terrible actions in difficult words that ordinary people do not understand.

The Mexican Chamber of Deputies defines “feminicide” as murder of women and girls which is of exceptional brutality. Killings, honour killings, killings by pouring gasoline on wives and setting them on fire, killing women in war because they are women, or killing them in so-called crimes of passion, are all killings, and all killings are unacceptable.

When the police do not investigate crime properly because it is just another girl or woman gone missing, it makes it even worse. All over the world, violence is perpetrated against women and not much is done about it. Governments pay lip service to the problem, and the women continue to believe that they are worth less than men.

Those behaviour patterns and attitudes are often based on old traditions and religion.

In the middle ages, Europe burned hundreds of witches but the practice stopped because of enlightenment and knowledge. “Knowledge” may be the key word for nations that have a macho and patriarchal view of life. In countries where feminicides are commonplace, many women have low self-esteem and a poor self-image because of the way in which they are treated and because they are looked upon as lesser human beings.

We must attack these killings from two angles. We must tell macho societies that feminicide is unacceptable and that change must occur. States must take the problem seriously and protect women’s human rights. Laws must be enacted and implemented, and immunity must end. We must also ensure that women tell the authorities what is going on.

Of course vulnerable women are afraid; who would not be? If we are to change this, we must change people’s mentality and challenge social patterns and roles. These killings are not just happening in Latin America but also in Asia and Africa, where women suffer under terrible conditions. In wartime, women are vulnerable and rape and violence are commonplace. Such crimes are hidden under different names but this still involves killing women because they are women.

I am not sure that Europe is free from this. For one reason or another, we have decided to close our eyes to violence and honour killings of women here. Perhaps we do not literally close our eyes, but we do not talk about it much or debate it because we are afraid of not being politically correct. What message does that send to those who think that it is okay to beat or kill a woman? This they can continue. Silently, we condone their behaviour by doing nothing about it. When dealing with this issue, we must ensure, wherever we are in the world, that women are heard, are safe and are searched for when they are reported missing.

Finally, I am happy that we are focusing on these terrible actions. We must tell everybody about our views and our work. I hope that in the long term there will be change, because there must be.

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