Open letter: Down Tools for Heidi – women being murdered in domestic violence

Subject: Open letter: Down Tools for Heidi – women being murdered in domestic violence
From: Prachi Mittal - Inner City Women's Group
Date: 9 Dec 2014

I was deeply impacted by yet another domestic violence death, almost two weeks ago. I have decided to not let this death go unnoticed.
We at Inner City Women’s Group are making a small gesture to remember the women who lose their lives to domestic violence. If you share our sentiments, join us.
Heidi Welman Scott was killed by her ex-husband on Thursday 27th November. She had a protection order against him. It could have been any woman, it could have been any Thursday, because this seems to be common place in our 100% pure New Zealand.

Domestic violence is a social epidemic and is claiming lives of women on a regular basis. I wonder who can do something about this. Would there be a response from the World Health Organisation? Probably not, they can control spread of killer viruses but not human beings with clear intent to murder.

We are outraged at the scenes of the beheadings being committed by ISIS terrorists and are outrage is justified. Do you think we have it in us to be equally outraged at the scene of a woman lying in a pool of blood outside her own home , killed by her own beloved partner, on a quiet street in a suburb of the ‘world’s most liveable city’ – Auckland. Or are we at that point that a ‘domestic incident’ is not grave enough to evoke a response beyond, ‘oh that’s a tragedy!’

When a fur seal or any other protected animal is shot by a hunter, we don’t examine the childhood trauma that the hunter might have experienced, we don’t wonder if the hunter could have got some help to prevent this killing. We just find the hunter and hold him responsible for his shocking crime. However when a woman is killed by her partner , we wonder if the killer had a history of abuse, if he could have done a stopping violence programme or received counselling to control his intent to murder. I don’t understand this, it is still murder isn’t it? Do we hesitate to respond strongly because women are not a protected species?

May be we should talk to the World Wildlife Fund. Wait, women are human beings! No one is going to pour money into a campaign that reads ”SAVE WOMEN”, there will be no images that make us go, ”Awwww she is so cute, we have to save her”. Who is going to say something or do something, express utter outrage and heart breaking sadness at the loss of a human being, at the loss of a woman?

I support the campaigns that WWF, WHO run and I strongly condemn ISIS too. I do think that we should save our planet, save endangered species of animals, end war and end terrorism. However, for me, the death of a woman at the hands of her partner is a crime beyond comprehension, it is the ultimate betrayal, it is WRONG. I think we need to save women.

I was born and raised in India, a country where everything about women is negotiable. This includes a woman’s right to be born, right to education, right to food, right to proper sanitation, right to absolutely anything including right to life! Now I live in a country that has a place of pride in history books because 120 years ago New Zealand gave women the right to vote, the first country to do so. Women here have rights and their rights are largely respected but, (and there is a strong growing but), a woman’s right to life cannot be guaranteed even in New Zealand.

Despite all my cynicism I know all is not lost, I know there are many of us who shed a quiet tear when one of our species is swallowed up by systematic domestic violence. I know many of us feel outraged and frustrated and want to do something. Let’s do something! I know it’s hard to take a stand, we are busy with our lives, busy with work, busy trying to provide services to those who suffer.

May be its time to STOP and take a moment. I propose that we mark the deaths of women who died due to domestic violence. On 11th December 2014, it will be two weeks since Heidi Welman Scott’s death. At Inner city Women’s Group we have chosen this day to ‘down tools’ for two minutes. On 11th December, Thursday at 12:00 pm we will stop working and take two minutes to remember Heidi and all the other women who have lost their lives to domestic violence.

If you share my horror and outrage, join us in downing tools wherever you are at 12:00 pm for two minutes on 11th December.

Prachi Mittal