For fifteen years the War on Terror has rarely been anything less than headline news. For many countries, terror has become their number one political priority. The widely broadcast actions of terrorists have provoked shock, anger, and revulsion. We are persuaded that behind every mosque, every veil or keffiyeh lies a jihadist. Fortunately and despite the propaganda and hype, the reality of extremist violent Jihad affecting you and I is virtually zero.
However, there is another form of terrorism which is perpetrated silently and insidiously on our streets. This type of terrorism is all too real within our apparently safe communities and is seemingly so acceptable it barely registers with politicians and the media.
Violence against women is also terrorism.
In Australia, the recent Lindt Cafe siege, where two people died, made headline news across the world. Immediately world leaders lined up to serve their usual soundbites on the evil of the terrorist. The headline writers and media pundits outdid each other sounding the bells of the apocalypse.
Hidden among all the hyperbolic hysterical journalism was this from the BBC. The police describe their assessment of the attacker Mon Haron Monis,
“…..he was known to the police, but we decided that he was not a threat.”
Not a threat!
The police made this statement despite Mons being on bail for conspiring to stab his ex-wife 17 times and burning her body, despite having more than 40 charges of aggravated sexual assault against him.
Who was Mons not a threat to exactly?
If domestic violence were taken as seriously in Australia as terrorism, the Lindt Cafe tragedy likely would never have happened. Mons should not have been out on bail! He was a very real threat.
Over in Turkey, when 22 year old Özgecan Aslan was murdered, 10,000’s of women took to the streets to protest against violence toward women. Aslan was murdered because she fought off two men who were trying to rape her. Shockingly 500 women were murdered in Turkey last year by current or ex-partners and in February alone 27 more women were killed. These deaths don’t make the headlines and they are not a priority according to the Turkish Government.
Yet last week in Syria the tomb of a Turkish man who’s been dead for 700 years became the subject of a vague IS threat. The Turkish Government instantly mobilized its army and dispatched hundreds of ground troops, tanks, aircraft, and drones. The attacks made headline news across the world and became a priority to the politicians and the media.
In Canada 1,300 indigenous women are missing.
The Canadian Prime Minister also says these cases are not a national priority.
Then, in October, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau; a sad, deranged and delusional man, decided to attack ‘democracy’ in Canada with a vintage Winchester rifle. His act of ‘terror’ has instantly freed up millions of dollars, changed laws, engaged the media and led to unprecedented powers being handed to the police. This act of ‘terror’ is now a national priority in Canada. Yet it led to the death of just one man.
Meanwhile the indigenous women keep disappearing.
Global shame hangs heavy when 50,000 women died last year in what could be called domestic violence. Now is surely the time we need to change the definition of what actually constitutes terror.
Broadening the definition of terror is not an attempt to say there isn’t a problem with extreme violent Jihadists, nor to minimize or trivialize the pain and suffering of those who have been affected by the insanely complex post-colonial politics of the Middle East.
This is a plea on behalf of the feminine for us to change our priorities and to offer our energies and intentions to combat what is a daily, brutal act of terror for far too many women. After all, as men, if we don’t really believe this, how can we actually look at out daughters, mothers, and partners with integrity?
I will not be silent on this any longer.
Photo: Some of the missing indigenous women of Canada, courtesy of CBIndependent