When a man rape a woman it tends not to result in a police-led man-hunt. When a man hits a woman, we do not ask for and demand all men globally to apologise on behalf of that man. When a man kills his spouse we do not hold protests across countries.
But when men attack people who purport to uphold our freedom of speech – as is the case with the attack on Charlie Hebdo, we have all of the above. We have police on the hunt, we have every media outlet decrying the action and we have the leader of France’s rightwing Front National (FN), Marine Le Pen, threatening to bring back the death penalty. We even have the French authorities deploying a staggering 88,000 police and troops around the country to strengthen security.
It is, of course, tragic that 12 people were killed. But every day, approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, and in terms of Violence against Women, take a look at these stats:
- between 15% of women in Japan and 71% of women in Ethiopia reported physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime;
- between 0.3–11.5% of women reported experiencing sexual violence by someone other than a partner since the age of 15 years;
- the first sexual experience for many women was reported as forced – 17% of women in rural Tanzania, 24% in rural Peru, and 30% in rural Bangladesh reported that their first sexual experience was forced.
I am not making light of what has happened in Paris this week with the attack on Charlie Hebdo. But why is it more important to protect freedom of speech than it is to protect women? Are some lives just more valuable than others? Or have we become so accustomed to the discrimination and brutality which is globally inflicted on women that we’ve stopped even noticing, let alone responding?