I get flack on this blog periodically for talking about why sexual and domestic violence needs to be considered through a gender lens. Lots of commenters here think this means I don’t care about men who experience violence, or think all men are violent.
I try to be very clear that I abhor all violence, and like many other women who work to end violence against women, I also challenge and campaign against other kinds of violence.
But this morning, it strikes me, again, how important it is that we remember gender.
The media has been reporting on four dead women in Aotearoa. All killed, or allegedly killed, by men in their lives with whom they had been intimate.
Nai Yin Xue was found guilty of killing his wife An An Liu last week. He strangled her. She’d previously fled his violence to stay in a Refuge, had gone through a court process to have him successfully prosecuted for assaulting her and her daughter, had sought and been granted a protection order – and the justice system knew he had held a knife to her belly and threatened to kill her – but like the vast majority of men who assault their partners, he had not been seen as violent enough to sentence to prison time.
Two women in Porirua, Joeline Rangimaria Edmonds and her boarder 16-year-old Jashana Maree Robinson, were murdered last week. Police have charged a man with name suppression – and a protection order from Ms Edmonds – with their murders.
And finally, we have the delightful case of Sophie Elliot, a young woman stabbed 216 times in the face by her ex-partner Clayton Weatherston, who alleges he is guilty only of manslaughter. The court case has been littered with descriptions of their “torrid and tumultuous” relationship – just as An An Liu allegedly died, not because her abusive husband strangled her, but because she was trying out some fancy sex thing involving near strangulation.
No doubt Ms Edmonds found baseball bats sexy too.
I am sick of these women-hating myths which play out whenever men are violent to women they have loved. All three of these relationships were historically violent before the men killed – just as they always are. In two of the relationships, the women had done all they could under the justice system to keep themselves safe – they had gone through the expensive, arduous and frightening process of applying for protection orders.
And the justice system, the communities they live in, and the wider New Zealand climate in which we excuse violence against women again and again and again by blaming women and refusing to create a culture of non-violence?
Please, commenters here who excuse male violence, take note. These cases are not isolated examples – they are typical of the most severe violence which is perpetrated on women in abusive relationships.
Rest in peace, An An Liu, Joeline Edmonds, Jashana Robinson and Sophie Elliot.