Beyond the Headlines – Violence against Women in the News
September 9, 2010[caption id="attachment_10066" align="alignleft" width="180" caption="Picture from cbsnews.com"][/caption] This week’s headlines chronicled recent developments in cases of murder, kidnapping and abuse that have garnered international attention. Yet beyond the sensationalism lies the real story – violence against women is a global epidemic. On Tuesday, CNN continued its high-profile coverage of the murder of Peruvian student Stephany Flores and its connection to the 2005 disappearance of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway. Also featured was the upcoming release of the autobiography of Natascha Kampusch, the Austrian woman who spent eight years imprisoned in a basement after being abducted on her way to school at age 10. Then today, CBS reported that 90-year-old John Bunz was sentenced on Wednesday to 17 ½ years in prison for beating his wife to death with a hammer. But what appear to be isolated incidents of nightmarish occurrences are in fact more: the truth is that that violence against women is a human rights crisis that affects us all. According to UNIFEM’s Say NO – UNiTE to End Violence against Women, the figures are staggering. Up to 70% of women experience physical or sexual violence from men in their lifetime, and in the U.S. alone, 1/3 of women murdered each year are killed by intimate partners. In light of this reality, we must remember that these news stories are more than just the hot topics of the day. While media seize such sensationalistic stories to boost ratings, viewers should consider the larger cultural context in which these stories exist. Here’s hoping that the stories of Stephany, Natascha, and others can shed light on a larger issue that demands our attention, not solely as consumers of media but as activists working to end violence against women.