Damage: the silent forms of violence against women

Damage: the silent forms of violence against women

The Guardian

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How is it that those with the power to inflict most harm are blind to the consequences of their actions?

It is a truism to say that everyone knows violence when they see it, but if one thing has become clear in the past decade, it is that the most prevalent, insidious forms of violence are those that cannot be seen. Consider, for example, a photograph from January 2017. A group of identical-looking white men in dark suits looked on as their president signed an executive order banning US state funding to groups anywhere in the world offering abortion or abortion counselling.

The passing of the “global gag rule” effectively launched the Trump presidency. (It was scrapped by Joe Biden soon after his inauguaration a few weeks ago.) The ruling meant an increase in deaths by illegal abortion for thousands of women throughout the developing world. Its effects have been as cruel as they are precise. No non-governmental organisation (NGO) in receipt of US funds could henceforth accept non-US support, or lobby governments across the world, on behalf of the right to abortion. A run of abortion bans followed in conservative Republican-held US states. In November 2019, Ohio introduced to the state legislature a bill which included the requirement that in cases of ectopic pregnancy, doctors must reimplant the embryo into the woman’s uterus or face a charge of “abortion murder”. (Ectopic pregnancy can be fatal to the mother and no such procedure exists in medical science.)

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