The President of the Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou in Athens 9.84: Domestic violence is not a private matter but a social pathogenesis and as such must be addressed
President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou launches the city’s municipal radio podcast series Athens 9.84 on gender-based violence. Its participation, which aims to intensify the effort to awaken society and empower victims, is of the utmost importance and works exemplary both in substance and symbolically. He talks to Eleonora Orfanidou.
“Indeed, gender-based violence is a global phenomenon, a phenomenon of unique historical resilience, with particularly painful implications. It attacks the integrity, the dignity of women, it condemns them to social marginalization, to psychological dissolution, if it does not kill them in the end. But also a life under a regime of physical and psychological violence is a living death. And the pity is that these phenomena, as we have experienced, at least in the past, are rarely reported and even more rarely sanctioned. Unfortunately nowadays with the pandemic and especially with the unfavorable conditions that we have all experienced – the narrowness of space, the forced coexistence of people – there has been a great resurgence of this phenomenon, as we have seen, which has to do with the dominant grids, with the misconceptions about male power that exist in society, a completely wrong idea about masculinity.
It is a phenomenon of pure abuse of power. Women are often seen as submissive and subordinate to large sections of the population, which leads to these nasty phenomena that we all know about.
During a trip to Paris in September 2019, passing by the Hôtel de Ville, I saw two huge impressive banners to “decorate” its facade. On these banners were inscribed the names of women, French women who had lost their lives for the benefit of their husband, their partner, during the year. “It is a gesture to make people aware of this phenomenon of female genital mutilation.”
“The term genocide in Greece – because it has not yet been accepted into legal terminology – refers to crimes committed against women, simply because they are women. It therefore presupposes this relationship of power and dependence and the inequality which can be social, psychological, economic. This is obviously due to very outdated social perceptions and gender stereotypes. It is truly a crime in which are enshrined all the moral standards of the perpetrators, the hierarchy of the two sexes. They reflect this incredible ownership mentality that is often felt by male family members, but this ownership mentality somehow legitimizes the use of violence in the eyes of the perpetrators. Women are considered submissive and may be receptive to such behavior. I know there is an intense dialogue on the term femicide both in the legal sciences and in Greece. The term exists and what it wants to give, I believe that our time must give it “.
“Sofia Bekatorou’s testimony, her strength, her dignity, the inner struggle she had gone through all these years to deal with it all and her courageous revelation which, I would say, swept away all attempts at cover-up – was dazzling. Bekatorou at that time – helped raise awareness of such attitudes. I immediately wanted to see her to pass the message: Speak, break the silence.
What was crucial at the time was that this woman had found the courage to externalize something that had been creating a big problem for her for years, a burden, I think shame, guilt, humiliation. The feelings a woman has in this situation are mixed. “What was crucial in her story was that she broke the silence and was the first to do so.”
Sexual violence and its affected people
“It is a myth that gender-based violence affects the weak, the lower classes or marginalized groups. Violence is linked to the characteristics of the aggressor, it can affect anyone. It is a myth that a woman’s weakness leads the abuser to this behavior. No, it is the aggressor’s choice and it is his fault. ??We classify abusive behaviors that can start with verbal abuse. These abusive behaviors are a vicious circle. Statistically, unfortunately, it turns out that the recurrence of the phenomenon is rare, something we will not see. Anyone who starts such behavior will rarely stop for it women who have this fragile survival and who experience these phenomena, I believe, should be encouraged to speak up. To break their silence “.
Discrimination in professional fields
“I was fortunate not to have experienced such behavior. I could hardly say that I have been discriminated against in my professional career. But what I have experienced in the wider professional field is than of course and discrimination. In previous years we have all felt that justice is also a men’s business and women are treated with compromise. Depending on the personality of each, we were able to have samples of behavior from men. Right now in the bench women dominate and very soon others will seek quotas“.
The day after the complaint
“There is a difficulty and there is the bet for the next day. Even when women find the courage to complain, the complaint to the relevant authorities is often dismissed and ignored.. But if you go to court, you see the discredit, the attempt to undermine the victim and the attempt to present the incidents in another way. When trials take place, we seldom have exemplary punishment for the culprits. This fact must be taken into account. “
“Steps have been taken in recent years in our country, under pressure from both Women’s Organizations and International Organizations and Authorities. There is also a law on domestic violence. There is a lot to do. Domestic violence is not a private matter but a social pathogenesis and should be treated as such. It is something that starts at home, of course at school. We all have a responsibility in our environment, which is how we raise boys and girls to behave in their relationships. One side can grow up with the tolerance of violence and the other with the guilt of accepting violence. “Both are issues that need to be resolved as soon as possible. “
“No form of violence is tolerated, but the gender-based violence we are talking about today is totally wrong and we all need to understand which behaviors are associated with a relationship and are tolerable and which should be condemned. This must be made known to all. May everyone feel equal, free, claim the best and not tolerate any abusive behavior.
My wish for young girls is never to tolerate abusive behavior. When women stop tolerating them somewhere, it will be difficult for men to exercise them“.