Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, commenting on the recent Human Trafficking Foundation revelations that many girls are lured in to the trade and then trafficked by women, reflects on female on female violence:
In the past five years, we have been forced to open our eyes here, as women, often in trusted positions, have been convicted of grotesque acts on babies, infants and teenagers. The young American woman Jaycee Dugard, whose memoir has just been published, describes how she was taken, aged 11, from a street by Phillip Garrido and his wife Nancy, kept hidden and raped for years, being forced to give birth to her children with only the two monsters present. There are other examples of female collusion in heinous sex crimes, which destroy those comforting beliefs in motherly grace and feminine care.
Michele Elliott, a psychologist and director of the charity Kidscape, believes this is considered the “ultimate taboo”, something society does not want to think about: “The possibility that the sexual abuse of a child can be perpetrated by women causes enormous controversy and distress. It is thought that even raising the possibility of women abusing children, detracts from the larger, more pervasive problem of male abuse.” She gives examples of adults despoiled by their mums or other female relatives, who were disbelieved even by doctors.
Ms. Alibhai-Brown goes onto point out the important role that women play in processes such as forced marriage and female genital mutilation, and they often are the ones persuading/forcing the girl into such a situation. Her piece ends with criticism of feminists:
We feminists, with our neat critiques of male dominance, are pathologically unable to deal with the fact that females are, sometimes, more sadistic than men and can and do viciously hurt their own sex. Who dares within the sisterhood to revise the assumptions on which so much of that belief system rests
This is unfair. Ms Alihai-Brown herself has written on forced genital mutilation (FGM) for decades and she hasn’t tried to blame everything on men. Plenty of feminist/womanist activists are intensely critical of the role of women in many cases of things like forced marriage and ‘honour’-based violence, characterising them as ‘footsoldiers of the patriarchy’. Books such as Jaswinder Sanghera’s ‘Shame’ detail the oppression the author faced from females in her own family. The classic stereotype of ‘man-hating feminists’ are few and far between in reality. Women do commit violent and disgusting acts (though still less than men), and this is recognised by most feminists/womanists, who campaign to end violence and oppression by both men and women.
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Filed in: 'Honour'-based violence,Sex equality