“Invisible Violence”: Translation into English of the article “Die verschwiegene Gewalt”

This is a translation into English of the article “Die verschwiegene Gewalt”, published on 8 September 2016 in the Reutlinger General-Anzeiger by Markus Hehn. Because articles of this quality about men affected by domestic violence and the people who try to help them are a rarity I decided to make this article accessible to non-German speakers.

Advice: The Pfullingen (town in South Germany) psychologist Sandra Hermann supports men who have been beaten and humiliated

PFULLINGEN. The girls night is in full swing and the chick flick on tv is reaching its dramatic peak. With feverish excitement the four women are holding each other by their hands as the pretty woman is having a go at her husband. When she suddenly slaps the guy the women in the sofa scream in delight.

And while one woman quickly rewinds the movie for another round of fun the other three dig in to the sweets on the table in front of them. The scene ends with a cheerful off-stage voice saying »Always a moment to celebrate«.

While Sandra Hermann gets the commercial’s punchline she does not think it is funny at all. Just imagine a group of men roaring with laughter when a woman is slapped on tv, she points out: „Would we still laugh if the roles were reversed?“

Fear of being seen as victims

For the psychologist from Pfullingen the video is just among instances of violence against men being portrayed as admissible. In her daily work she witnesses men suffering from physical and emotional violence, happening most of the time in their own homes.

»Many men do not even seek counselling though«, she says, »because they are worried that they will not be believed.« The stereotype of men as the dominant sex makes it harder as well to admit to themselves that they are being battered. »At all ages men receive less help which makes them think they have to go through it alone.« When a victim does come round to seeking help and consults Sandra Hermann her first concern is to explore all options while being an active listener. Whether a police report will be filed or whether he will come to therapy with his partner depends on the individual case.

Hermann points out what can be done, »what will be done will be decided by her clients though« Her clients are generally 30 years and above. There is no upper limit though, neither when it comes to age, nor the types of violence with which men see themselves confronted.

This ranges from physical violence in nursing care to emotional violence in relationships and includes insults, such as »You loser«, threats, such as »If you do that you will never see your children again« or frequently monitoring the mobile phone.

Men’s counselling network

In order to be able to help more men Hermann joined the »Men’s counselling network« in April this year. Its website lists contact points that are free of charge across the whole of Germany. Sandra Hermann is one among three in Baden-Württemberg, who are offering these entry point consultancy services on a voluntary basis.

Since the other spots are in Karlsruhe and Heidelberg, Hermann’s catchment area from Pfullingen is substantive. It’s only the absence of publicity that keeps her from being overrun.

The importance of publicity

Hermann though works on changing that. Public outreach is a major part of her efforts. »It’s a top priority«, she says. In that the 42 year old is supported by Andrea Sautter. The lawyer heads the Reutlingen branch of the »Weißer Ring«, a German non-profit that supports victims of crimes and their families – that obviously inludes men.

Sautter – together with Sandra Hermann – wants to create public awareness for the issue of violence against men. »Even the people affected often have a distorted image«, she says. Practical actions include displaying leaflets at police stations. »That is so important«, Hermann adds, »in order that people know that they are not alone and that help is available.«

It is important for the two women to emphasize that this is no backlash against the services for women. They use the example of shelters to stress this point. While the roughly 400 refugees for women across Germany are publically funded the four accommodation facilities offered by the men’s counselling network are funded exclusively through private donations. Hermann and Sautter state that there are not too many services for women but too few for men. They would wish for more support on the part of the public authorities, but there seems to be a lack of funds and political will.

That is why not much research is carried out in this area. Conversely the lack of knowledge is used to justify that there is no need for domestic violence shelters for men. Argumentatively, a vicious cycle, Herman states with disappointment. The problem: »There is no lobby and studies are costly.«

At this point Hermann recommends a look at our European neighbors. In the Swiss town of Brugg exists a men’s shelter where public funding is working. Clear-cut figures are proof of the demand: there are 60 to 70 monthly requests.

Breaking a taboo

Sandra Hermann has mixed feelings when looking at the future. The topic of male victims of violence is still taboo. She knows that it will take time before the general public will become receptive to this issue. »I am hoping for everyone affected that things will change«, says Hermann. »Because as things are right now it’s all distorted and one-sided. But when people want to live together help can never be one-sided.« (GEA)

http://www.maennerberatungsnetz.de

Twenty years after Srebrenica: Mass murder of men remains un-investigated to this day

The following article is my translation of an article, published a few days ago by the German writer on men’s issues Arne Hoffmann. I first read about the unequal treatment of men and women by NGO’s in conflict situations last summer in his book Not am Mann – Sexismus gegen Männer (Men in need – Sexism against men) and his book Plädoyer für eine linke Männerpolitik (Plea for a left wing men’s politics). It is not like I had not witnessed callous sexism against men before but that people were intentionally left to die by human rights organisations, i.e. the very groups of people who had devoted their lives to NOT shutting their eyes to human suffering but going into the places that others were fleeing from and helping those in need. The reality of those people who are the last hope for those in danger, leaving men back to die just because of the sex they were born with shook me to the core. It made me really sad for humanity. But then again I had met a person who was working in the UN, a young lecturer teaching a human rights seminar at the university, who had laughed her head off when I had replied to her question of which groups need human rights, with: “men”. Back then she asked me which rights men are lacking and all I could think of was father’s rights. Now, two years later, having done my research I would have a lot to tell her. But I am still astonished that with her research credentials she wouldn’t know herself. I don’t know if people do not want to know or are sincerely uninformed. For the general public the latter is certainly true. Which is why I wanted as many people as possible to be able to read the article that Arne Hoffmann published a few days ago on the gender aspects of the massacre in the Kosovo twenty years ago. 

These days, numerous media outlets are publishing articles on the 20th anniversary of the massacre of Srebenica. I have dealt with the gender political relevant aspects of this mass murder in my book Plädoyer für eine linke Männerpolitik (Plea for a left wing men’s politics)

This article was originally published in German on “Genderama” and then on “Cuncti”

In June 1995 the Serbian army attacked the city Srebrenica, in the East of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and systematically slaughtered almost 8,000 men and older boys and thus became responsible for the worst massacre since the end of WW II. Two years before this massacre, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had evacuated several thousand civilians from the besieged city.

Women, children and the elderly had been allowed to flee through the UN convoys; adult men from the civilian population had been left back in the city – despite the people in charge having been fully aware that, in such cases, it was almost always the male population murdered en masse. Men between the ages of 15 and 60, who had tried to hide among the throngs of refugees, were removed by the people in charge at the UNHCR, who refused to take responsibility for their protection.

Four years after the massacre, in 1999, the United Nations Security Council met in order to discuss the protection of the civilian population in war zones. While, once again primarily male, civilians were being massacred in the Kosovo, the delegates agreed that women and children have a special right to humanitarian support. A study by the human rights organization Human Rights Watch of 3,453 executions in the context of the Kosovo-conflict found that 92 per cent of all victims, whose sex was known, were male. Among other human rights violations, that largely and predominantly affected men, were capture and severe torture. This was also confirmed by reports on the human rights situation in the Kosovo by other organizations. An aid who had stayed back in the villages spoke of a “planet without men”, a world of only women and children. The men had been displaced or murdered.

When the gendercide expert, Professor Adam Jones, contacted the president of the human rights center of the United Nations to share his worries about the men who were facing death during the Kosovo conflict, the reply he received consisted of three sentences from an assistant, who thanked Jones but explained that these kinds of questions were not part of the UN-mandate. The women were brought to safety but were visibly distressed about having to leave their men behind in a situation of certain death. “It was not easy to watch, women and children being led away from their menfolk”, Adam Jones cites the reaction of a Dutch member of the UN-peacekeeping forces in the Kosovo and adds: “This statement serves well to summarize the predominant attitude.” Sympathy was directed at the distressed women, not at the men awaiting impending mass murder. Eight months later the massacre of Srebrenica took place. One year later, the UN institution, that Jones had contacted, founded an international coalition for the protection of the human rights of women in situations of conflict.

The international relations expert, Paula Drummond, for her article “invisible men”, examined in particular the Gender-Mainstreaming-policies of the United Nations in the context of the genocide in the Congo, that cost the lives of such a high number of men that in some regions 80 per cent of survivors consist of women and children. The result of Drummond‘s analysis: foundation of the UN policies is the adoption of the so called Gender-Mainstreaming-principle, which, according to the official definition, should address the needs of both genders, but is de facto only applied to benefit women. Despite the United Nations witnessing, again and again, that gender specific violence was mainly directed against men and boys, e.g. in Ruanda and the former Yugoslavia, for them “Gender Politics” consists of protecting women and girls.

Drummond shows that when, for example, boys and men are forced through threat of death to rape their own family members, the UN will later only provide support to the raped women. If the en masse slaughter of men is at all included in a UN report, then it is only because the “resulting scarcity of men leads to more insecurity for households that consist of only adult women” – meaning that dead men impair the life of women. Contrary to all existing findings, it is emphasized again and again, that women and children were particularly at risk in the conflicts mentioned. Generally, the engagement with the conflict in the Congo is dominated by a feminist perspective, which Drummond views as short sighted, since the marginalization of male victims reinforces the cliché of women as vulnerable and continually in need of assistance.

If Gender Studies really was a legitimate academic discipline, these aspects would be among the central research and teaching tenets. Instead they are dominated by the concerns of one gender only. For scientists in other disciplines, Professor Adam Jones, for example, is seen as one of the global leading experts on the topic of genocide, yet from the perspective of Gender Studies he is obviously an ‘unciteworthy’ “old white man”.

This camp takes even more aggressive action against human rights activists who would like to see the suffering of men put on the political agenda as well. By the Ausputzern der Genderszene (Gender activists) such activists are vilified as “Rechte” (far right-wing), as they are apparently pursuing a victim ideology just like the National Socialists did (the actual one-sided feminist victim ideology is not being questioned in the Gender-camp). One should not even talk with these human rights activists, demands, among others, Thomas Gesterkamp, but instead draw a “Cordon Sanitaire” around them. Public broadcast journalists, such as Ralf Homann and Nina Marie Bust-Bartels, like to spread this hatred and don’t seem particularly interested in mass murder that is specifically committed against men.

Thus, the next massacre of this kind will be take place unhindered. Its foundation cannot only be found in other cultures, it is also deeply entrenched in Western society: It is the conviction that only the suffering of women counts and anyone who speaks about the suffering of men is turned into an untouchable and socially executed.

The mindset, that even the death of a great number of humans accounts to nothing and the winning of recognition for one’s own political camp means everything, is familiar to us from several ideologies, which both far left and far right intellectuals indulged in: National Socialism, Stalinism, Maoism and now Feminism and Gender.  This mindset returns again and again but that should not keep us from doing all we can to finally overcome it, even if it means becoming ever more a target of hatred.

It is grotesque when, in the face of such hideousness, we are asked to stay emotionally detached and indifferent. Otherwise, one gets vilified as an “angry white man”, and thus declared not worthy of having an opinion. Then again, this mechanism only works in the mind of ideologues. Personally, I prefer anger in this context. It is by all means better than depression.