Written By: - Date published: 12:32 pm, November 19th, 2013 - 130 comments
Categories: child welfare, class, community democracy, feminism, patriarchy, paula bennett, political alternatives, poverty, sexism, unemployment - Tags: kyriarchy, social security
Trigger warning: This post addresses some difficult and sensitive issues about poverty, women and rape culture. Subsequent comments will be tightly moderated.
In the aftermath of the news coverage given to the Roastbusters, the meme of “free speech” and “middle class” values have been used in support of a couple of radio hosts who victim blamed a woman who said she was a survivor of RBs’ sexual assault. It continues to amaze me that, while some commentators use the class argument in defense of, or apologies for the RBs, the class of the young women they allegedly sexually abused/raped is ignored. Surely if the RBs were low income westies, it is most likely that any women they abused would also be from low income westie backgrounds. At the very least, it cannot be assumed the young women are middle class.
Under our current government and in our current context of large income inequalities, women, especially Maori and Pacific women, are the ones struggling the most. Yet the National government, and to some extent Labour, continue to marginalise their struggles. Particularly, women beneficiaries with children are at the ones taking the most heat from Paula Bennett’s punitive attacks on beneficiaries.
This is the case with the Social Security (Fraud Measures and Debt Recovery) Amendment Bill – see AAAP’s submission on this. This amendment makes a person criminally and financially liable for their conjugal partner’s mis-appropriations of benefits and/or failure to pay debts. AAAP summarise the most likely outcomes of the Bill:
In these ways, the bill:
* Impinges on the rights of New Zealand citizens
* Is likely to lead to greater stress and worse outcomes for vulnerable people
* Is likely to contribute to situations of domestic violence and abuse
* Does not contain appropriate, cost-effective mechanisms for addressing benefit fraud
* Distracts government agencies from already imperfectly-delivered core business, such as informing beneficiaries of, and delivering, what they are entitled to
* Adds to a culture of beneficiary stigmatizing and blame, while entrenching an underclass.
Women’s Refuge NZ reports that, while some men are also the victims of domestic abuse, the majority are women and children.
Toah-Nnest profiles the statistics-based characteristics of victims and perpetrators of sexual violence. they state that while anyone from any demographic group can be a victim,
Gender is a major predictor of sexual victimisation, with women having a disproportionately higher risk of sexual victimisation than men. Also, being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered is a risk factor, including victimisation from partners and victimisation that occurs as a result of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic violence.
Research indicates that young women and Māori women are almost twice as likely to experience sexual violence and young Pacific peoples also report high rates of unwanted sexual contact. In addition to this, studies indicate that sexual violence is more likely to be experiencedby people with a disability and people who have been abused as children or adolescents.
The NZ Taskforce for Action on Sexual Violence (2009) stated this in its snapshot at the beginning of the report:
Sexual violence is prevalent in our communities
* the 2006 crime and Safety Survey found that approximately 29 percent of women and 9 percent of men experience unwanted and distressing sexual contact over their lifetime. […]
Some groups are more at risk than others
* Research suggests that young women and Mäori women are almost twice as likely to experience sexual violence, and young pacific people also report high levels of unwanted sexual contact.
* International studies indicate that sexual violence is more likely to be experienced by people with a disability and people who have been abused as children.
Sexual violence is a highly gendered crime
* overwhelmingly sexual assault is perpetrated by men against women. it is both a consequence and cause of gender inequality.
Victims often know their offenders
The pattern here is of the people with least power (women, children, disabled, Maori, Pasifika, etc) being the majority of victims. Consequently, it is also likely that low income people are at risk of being victims of sexual violence and/or have the least resources for supporting survivors. This is not just the case in NZ. The Global Poverty Project says this:
Women make up half of the world’s population and yet represent a staggering 70% of the world’s poor.
We live in a world in which women living in poverty face gross inequalities and injustice from birth to death. From poor education to poor nutrition to vulnerable and low pay employment, the sequence of discrimination that a woman may suffer during her entire life is unacceptable but all too common.
As well as being more disadvantaged with respect to employment education and health, women on low incomes, are vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence. For a woman in poverty.
Over her lifetime, she may suffer unimaginable violence and neglect, often in silence. Three million women die each year because of gender-based violence, and four million girls and women a year are sold into prostitution. One woman in five is a victim of rape or attempted rape during her lifetime. Gender-based violence takes more of a toll on women’s health than that of traffic accidents and malaria combined.
This is in keeping with Bill’s post on Patriarchy: we live within systems of power that makes life easier for most white, middle class men.
You don’t have to be white and male and financially wealthy to assume a prominent position within systems of patriarchy, but it helps.
Kyriarchy are the structures of domination working together as a network – not just one group dominating another. Its branches include but are not limited to racism, sexism, cissexism, heterosexism, ageism, and ableism. In a kyriarchy, our kyriarchy, this kyriarchy, different forms of supremacy on different axes are independent and interdependent.
Poverty, rape, sexual violence and rape culture are all gendered in complex ways within a system riven with too many inequalities. To address fully the impact of our highly gendered socio-economic system that has institutionalised gendered violence, it is important to work to counter the ways that low income women are at the forefront those suffering most.
Note on moderation of the comments under this post:
Discussions of rape and sexual violence can retraumatise survivors. Consequently, the comments below will be tightly moderated. In the first instance comments may be moved to other sections, eg open mike or to this one that has a warning on it. In more extreme cases comments may be deleted.