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What’s the matter with China?

February 8, 2013

Global stories of violence against women abound.  Just today, I was listening to NPR about Kim Lee, an American woman married to a famous Chinese celebrity type of person teaching the English on Chinese television – they called it “crazy English.”   Turns out, he physically beat her, and quite badly.  Here’s her statement:

“That day the violence was so horrific. I went to the police station, and I went to the hospital, and my husband went on TV and did a TV show. I thought maybe he just didn’t even realize how seriously he hurt me, even though he was sitting on my back, slamming my head in the floor,” Lee recalls.    Here is the full article.

He admitted he beat her, and said “I hit her sometimes, but I never thought she would make it public since it’s not Chinese tradition to expose family conflicts to outsiders.”

Kim said she went to the police but was often dismissed.  She struggled for justice, and won.  On Feb 3, a Beijing court ruled in her favor – granting her a divorce, custody of their children, and monetary compensation – AND a restraining order against her ex-husband, the first ever in Beijing.  

According to the report, nearly ¼ of married Chinese women suffer domestic abuse.  There are no laws in China against domestic violence.    

Let’s bring this back to the UN Commission on Status of Women, the theme being elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls.   Why is this so important?   (Do we even have to ask this question?) 

If we can’t simply appeal to one’s sense of humanity, fairness, dignity, life, and justice, then let’s fall back onto raw economics.   You know, as I write this, it just makes me so upset to think that we even have to discuss the costs of violence against women.   But let’s move on.

According to the UN – “The costs of violence against women are extremely high. They include the direct costs of services to treat and support abused women and their children and to bring perpetrators to justice.

The cost of intimate partner violence in the United States alone exceeds $5.8 billion per year. “     

Let me repeat:  The cost of intimate partner violence in the United States alone exceeds $5.8 billion per year.  $4.1b for medical and health care services, with productivity losses of almost $1.8b.  

I was going to write further on this subject, but it is late and I am still struggling with the best approach to address it.   It seems now that I am so focused on learning what I can before going to NY, my senses are heightened to the stories I hear in the news and the articles I am reading.   The fact is that women in all countries face discrimination and worse simply because they are women.   While we in the US have come a long way in my lifetime (thank you Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem and the many other pioneers of the women’s movement), gender equality is still a goal.  We are not there yet.

Why don’t we have a woman president?   Why don’t we have 50% women in elected offices?   Why are so few CEOs women?   Why are so few VC funded entrepreneurs women?  

I was at Stanford last week at a panel discussion for entrepreneurs moving into other geographic markets, Europe specifically.   The four panelists were all women.   During the Q&A, one older white haired man commented on the number of women in a Yelp UK photo and the fact that all the panelists were women.  Why should that be a fact for comment?  

I was talking to a Google engineering manager a couple years ago.  He mentioned that the one woman on his team (out of about 15) was the smartest of his team.  So I said, why does a woman need to be the smartest to get hired?   Where are the equally qualified women who are average compared to the others?     

That’s it for today.   More tomorrow.


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One Comment
  1. This is a great blog! Ecumenical Women will definitely add it to our blogroll! See you at CSW!

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