Violence Against Migrant Women Won’t End After DSK Case

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The media circus surrounding the Dominique Strauss-Kahn rape case dishes out more drama each day, with a side of lurid fascination. But we basically know how the story ends. The narrative of the immigrant housekeeper assaulted by a European official perfectly illustrates an axiom of violence and power: the wider the gap between genders and races, the greater the latitude of injustice.

Yet the same story plays out every day on an endless loop around the globe: a retaliatory rape against a young girl sends a warning to the enemy militia; a wife is pummeled into bloody silence, her bedroom beyond the purview of traditional local courts; a daughter is married off to pay down a farm debt. The stories weave into a pattern that a media-fatigued public has come to normalize.

To resensitize us to those numbing tragedies, an annual report of Migrant Rights International documents the cruel synergy between being a woman and being the other on every continent. Young girls from the rural hill tribes of Thailand, who lack full citizenship rights, are “easy prey” for forced sex trafficking. Canadian First Nations women, long alienated from mainstream society, suffer epidemic rates of sexual assault as well as HIV/AIDS infection. Sexual and gender minority status often compound each other, as with the rash of “corrective rapes” targeting lesbians in South Africa.

Women of marginalized ethnicities suffer violence at the hands of their own, as well. Domestic violence is rampant in some indigenous communities, according to MRI, in large part because mainstream legal structures provide no protection or access to justice. The resulting erosion of the social fabric feeds into racialized stereotypes of moral deviance. Read more here.