Wednesday 18 May 2016

The value of women's silence

What would happen, if women stopped staying silent? 

What would happen if every time a man harassed us on the street. Every time a man groped us. Every time a man assaulted us. Every time a man hit us. Every time a man raped us. What would happen if every time this happened, women went to the police? 

What would happen if every time we went to the police, we were believed? 

And the man was prosecuted. Convicted. Sentenced. 

What would happen if every rapist felt the full force of the law? If every DV abuser stood up in court and was sent down to prison? If every entitled male who grabbed and groped and harassed was, oh I don’t know, at least fined? 

Society wouldn’t be able to cope, that’s what. If each one of the 97,000 rapes in the UK led to a conviction. If the 1.2 million incidents of domestic abuse were prosecuted. Every year there are half a million sexual crimes in the UK. Imagine how it would look if nearly half a million men had to take responsibility for those crimes. 

You can’t imagine it, can you? You actually can’t imagine what a world would look like, if every man who abused women actually had to take responsibility for his crimes! 

A few years ago, the Guardian reported that approximately 1,400 girls were abused as part of the Rotherham case. I remember listening to the news and walking to work, before bursting into tears. Why? Because I knew that there were more than 1,000 men in that region who had raped girl children and who would never have to face the consequences of their actions. There were over 1,000 rapists walking around, going to work, going home to their families, knowing that they could just carry on as they are. Never mind the harm they did to those girls. Never mind the trauma they’d left behind them. They would never pay for their crimes. 

And then I thought about all the other rapists and domestic abusers who walk free. In the UK, 85,000 women are raped every year. Only 15% are ever reported and of those 15%, only 6.5% lead to a conviction. 

That’s a lot of men who never have to face the consequences of their violent actions. 

Women’s silence is so valuable in our society. It’s thanks to our silence that the prisons aren’t overcrowded. Our silence keeps the economy afloat. Our silence means violent men can keep their status – their jobs, their families, their friends. 

Patriarchy understands this. It absolutely understands this. It relies on our silence. It keeps us silent by telling us that we won’t be believed if we raise our voices. It keeps us silent by dismissing the violence committed against us, or blaming us for the violence committed against us. 

So much depends on women’s silence. 

But imagine what would happen, if we didn’t stay silent? 

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