The European Agency for Fundamental Rights has run a survey about sexual violence in European countries.
Denmark is top of the poll with 52% of women surveyed experiencing physical or sexual violence from a partner or a non-partner since the age of 15. The average in the EU is 33%.
If you look at the reports in the UK press, where the UK’s stats are also higher than the average at 44%, it is a straight report of the press release. They report: there is a major problem with violence against women and true figures may be much higher because women may not have considered some of their experiences to have been assault.
The Danish press spin this line in another way. There is no way that backwards bloody European countries treat their women better than Denmark, they say. The women in Denmark are empowered to report, so the figures are skewed.
Ok, let’s just say that is right. Then the European average proportion of women who have been attacked is much higher than 50%, surely? Because the average women being attacked in Denmark IS 52%. That is fucking shocking, even if another country has a bigger problem. This is the problem with ranking countries like this. If Denmark came at the bottom of the table at 52%, they would be able to be complacent about being better than Greece (or wherever) and if Denmark comes at the top of the table at 52%, they are able to be complacent because the survey did not get the real answer because women in other countries are so much more oppressed.
No action needed? Come on guys, we can’t just ‘other countries are worse’ our way out of everything!
The Equality Minister of Denmark and the author of the report have suggested that Danish women are experiencing these high levels of violence because Danish men are jealous of women’s success in the workplace.
My understanding is that greater independence of women leads to less violence, not more. Abusers like their victims isolated and dependent.
The issue with blaming the women’s movement on greater levels of violence against women is that the women’s movement was conceived as a method of reducing violence against women.
Without a women’s movement: women are attacked (with no recourse to help or justice) because they are vulnerable. With a women’s movement: women are attacked (with some recourse to help and justice), because they have recourse to help and justice.
Really? Sounds incredibly weak, sorry. What I am left with is that men feel like they can attack women. It is a structural problem not a problem with what women are or are not doing.
Men feel like they can do it. So they do it.*
Other countries with high levels of reported violence also have bigger drinking cultures. Maybe it could be that Danish men are getting more sexually aggressive because they are drunk? Except, a recent study has gone some way to debunking that.
The study is an interesting read. 90% of sexual violence in bars is male on female. This is worth repeating because I find that whenever someone talks about violence against women, someone will say that women attack men sexually too. They may even have a personal experience. And it is bad, I’m not denying it. It’s really bad. But we’re going to talk about the 90% of cases right now. This isn’t a case of ‘both as bad as each other’, it really is not. (Similarly, the FRA study suggests that in 80% of physical or sexual attacks on women by non-partners, men are involved.)
The rest of the report about behaviour in bars found no correlation between level of inebriation and level of instigation. Alcohol does not make men more sexually aggressive. What they found was that men are going to bars to target inebriated women because they are more vulnerable to attack. These men are predators. They are not confused or led on, they are deliberately going to places where their marks are less able to prevent them from attacking.
So, if greater alcohol culture is to blame for the high levels of sexual violence in Denmark, that says something quite disturbing about Danish men. They are not helpless victims of the demon drink, they are going after incapacitated women because they are easier to attack.
Only quite recently did the Danish government change the law that it was not ‘rape’ to rape your drunk wife. It was only sexual assault. With that sort of prevailing cultural attitude, you can see how that might translate into behaviour.
I looked in more detail at the figures from the FRA.
Physical and/or sexual violence at the hand of a partner or non-partner since age 15: 52%
Physical and/or sexual violence from a partner since age 15: 32%
Physical and/or sexual violence from a non-partner since age 15: 40%
Suggesting that it is not domestic violence at the heart of this matter (although, that is obviously a big problem).
Physical violence from a partner or non-partner since age 15: 48%
Physical violence from a partner since age 15: 29%
Physical violence from a non-partner since age 15: 36%
Women are being more often attacked by men who are not their partners. (Remember, the stats say that 80% of the non-partners involved in these attacks were male)
Sexual violence from a partner or non-partner since age 15: 19%
Sexual violence from a partner since age 15: 11%
Sexual violence from a non-partner since age 15: 11%
Suggesting Denmark has a much bigger problem with physical violence than sexual violence.
Looking at the stats of where these assaults are taking place:-
20% at school or workplace, 18% in someone else’s home, 18% in a cafe or bar, 17% outside in a public place and 15% in own home.
Those 20% of attacks at school or work will not have been alcohol fuelled, presumably. (Unless of course, they only interviewed women who work with drunks like police officers and emergency room doctors.)
My take on it is that our culture says that women should be and act a certain way and men should have certain privileges and violence is used to enforce this. No amount of saying women’s rights have won is going to change the essential truth that they really have not.
When Danes get up on their high horse about how Muslims treat ‘their’ women, it is irritating. These Danes do not have any Muslim friends, male or female. They are going on prejudice and ignorance. But when you realise that whatever the problems ‘The Other’ have, Danish women do not have it that much better, it makes the prejudice so much harder to bear.
Women in Denmark are attacked, mostly by men, in large numbers. It is mostly regular violence but sexual violence is also an issue. It is mostly non-partners but abuse from partners is also a major problem.
Complacency is rife, along with trying to find out what these women were doing that gets them into harm’s way.
Let’s look at it another way. What is making men think that they can attack others? What is making men feel like a woman is fair game for sexual violence? Why aren’t the courts full to bursting with these cases of violence?
* Obviously not all men. If it’s not about you, it’s not about you.