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A deafening silence

A deafening silence: Hidden violence against women and children

Patrizia Romito
Translated from original Italian by Janet Eastwood
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  • Book Info
    A deafening silence
    Book Description:

    This book is born of a contradiction: on the one hand, there has been a genuine advance in the awareness of violence against women and children and actions to oppose it. On the other, the violence persists and so does the counter-attack against those who seek to expose it. Patrizia Romito's extraordinary book describes the links between discrimination, violence against women and violence against children and, uniquely, uncovers the strategies and tactics used for concealing it. Her analysis, corroborated by a solid theoretical framework as well as up-to-date international research data, powerfully reveals the interconnectedness of what might appear as separate events or measures. The book also demonstrates how the same tactics and strategies are at work in various different countries. Written in a clear and direct style, the book is an essential tool for anyone - professional, researcher or activist - wanting to understand male violence against women and children and to oppose it.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-288-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgements and preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  2. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    At the beginning of the new millennium, violence against women and children is no longer a secret, something that the victims have to hide, without hope and without means of release. We are more and more aware of the frequency and consequences of domestic violence, rape, harassment at work and child sexual abuse, phenomena for most of which there was not even a name until the 1970s. The women’s movement produced awareness, knowledge and resistance; it revealed the web of complicity, often institutional, that allowed the individual violent man to continue to act, undisturbed and unpunished; it invented, proposed and...

  3. ONE Violence and discrimination against women
    (pp. 11-28)

    This is not a book about violence against women; it is a book about responses by society to violence against women. However, having figures about violence in your hand is crucial. In fact, only by examining the extent and frequency of male violence can we appreciate the scale, determination and lack of scruples involved in covering up the violence. Only in this way does the importance of figures and statistics also become clear and, conversely, the significance and consequences of their absence. In fact, the lack of figures about violence represents a political choice and one of the means of...

  4. TWO The theoretical context
    (pp. 29-42)

    In this chapter I will explain briefly the theoretical references forming the context of and guiding my work. The principal one is feminism, as it has developed since the 1960s.¹ Without feminism, its analysis of the oppression of women and its determination to put an end to it, and without the concrete practices characterising it, we would not be here discussing male violence.

    In this chapter I recall some of these practices, which are particularly relevant for studying violence. Separatism allowed women to have a physical and mental space, in which to interact and concentrate on their priorities without having...

  5. THREE Tactics for hiding male violence
    (pp. 43-94)

    What do I mean by ‘tactics’ and ‘strategies’?¹ These are mental operations – ways of seeing, conceptualising and naming reality – which materialise in behaviour, are deposited as common sense and become ideology when they centre on the interests of those in power and may be ‘institutionalised’ in various ways, such as laws, scientific or pseudoscientific theories and the work practices of legal and social services. These institutionalised forms influence and sometimes determine the way we perceive reality and therefore our reactions, feelings and behaviour. I define ‘strategies’ as complex, articulated manoeuvres, general methods for hiding male violence and allowing the status...

  6. FOUR Hiding strategies
    (pp. 95-164)

    Two principal strategies emerge from analysing male violence in recent history: legitimising and denying. In legitimising, male violence is not hidden in any way: it is visible, but as it is legitimate, it is not defined as violence. When men commit it in the context of the family against those people (women and children) that they consider their property, these actions and toleration of them are often codified in laws. Outside the family some male behaviour, such as using people in prostitution, is accepted by society, even when it takes the most hateful forms.

    Denying is necessary, when struggle and...

  7. Conclusions
    (pp. 165-166)

    Some months ago one of my students came to thank me: he had discovered during my lectures that rape was a cruel act that may leave the victim devastated. Until that time, like his friends, he had thought it was nothing serious, only rather ardent sex, in short. What meaning should we give to this fact? Must we despair that a man, who was 20 years old in 2004, had never heard it said that rape is violence and violence is devastating, or be happy because, when he was told, he thought about it, understood and started changing his way...

  8. Afterword to the English edition
    (pp. 167-172)

    The first version of this book, in Italian, was published in 2005; the second version, in French, in 2006. The book had a positive reception in both countries and I had the pleasure of presenting it and discussing it publicly on many occasions. Since I have continued to take an interest in male violence against women and children in the meantime, as researcher, teacher and activist, I would like to use the occasion of the English edition to add some points for reflection that have arisen during these years.

    The first concerns the use of language to talk about this...

  9. APPENDIX: Information boxes
    (pp. 173-180)