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International violence


Originally, Amnesty International started as a reaction to the brutality of European dictatorships.

In 1960, two Portuguese students toast to the freedom of a restaurant. The regime of Portugal's dictator Salazar gave the students a seven-year sentence for the incident. Freedom bowls are, as is known, serious issues.

Salazar's right-wing extreme regime did not fall until 1974. But already in 1961, Amnesty saw the light of day, after British lawyer Peter Benenson wrote to Salazar and objected to the absurd verdict.

Today – after Europe has got rid of most of its many and long-lasting dictatorships – it is easy to get the impression of human rights violations on these corners of the world is a non-European and un-Norwegian phenomenon.

All the more necessary, therefore, is Amnesty International's latest campaign here in the country: the fight against the extensive violence against women in Norway.

In early September, Amnesty presented the organization's first ever report on Norwegian offenses. And the result was disappointing: The surveys show that more than one in four women in Norway have been exposed to violence in the couple relationship. Nine percent of women in relationships have experienced life-threatening violence.

The frequent media reports about violence or murder in Norwegian every week show that these are very real numbers and threats.

Nevertheless, 95 per cent of Norway's municipalities have no action plan against violence against women. 64 percent do not have rape offers. That is why last year over 300 women had to leave, for example, Mandal to Kristiansand to get help at a crisis center.

Nevertheless, every tenth Norwegian municipality is told by Amnesty that they believe that "women in their municipality are not exposed to violence". It is about the same attitude one finds in patriarchal villages in developing countries most Norwegians like to harass.

Dagbladet's commentator Kjetil Rolness is among those who with their tiling comments in the last couple of months have built up under this widespread municipal unconsciousness – and who thus show their cowardice by not taking the widespread violence against women seriously.

In this week's edition of AmnestyNew new documentation is presented on the so-called "everyday violence" against women. The UN Committee on the Status of Women will now review the report, to assess whether Norway has complied with the UN Convention on the Rights of Women.

It will be exciting to see the assessment. For too many years, the Norwegian gaze has been focused almost exclusively on what everyone else in the world has done wrong, without regard to the frequent abuses against a large number of groups here at home.

Unfortunately, Norwegian self-deception also ruptures with regard to female violence. While more than one in four Norwegian women experience violence, almost every third woman is exposed to the same world-wide.

Slightly better than the average. But if we correct for Norway's income and wealth, and take into account the potential for rapid improvement, then the picture will be different.

Before the Norwegian word shift begins new rounds of hares las over how harsh women are treated in Asia and Africa, we can start by removing the beam in our own eye.

On October 1, Amnesty will host a nationwide campaign day against Norwegian female violence. And on October 23, the money goes from this year's TV campaign to the international fight against violence against women.

This should be a common struggle – across culture, politics and gender.


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