Law versus Justice: When did they become separated?
In this article I am considering the march4justice nationwide on 15 March 2021 Australia, for women in light of sexual abuse allegations in parliament and the deeper societal inequities and lack of respect for women generally. This is an Australian and global issue.
While we may expect and assume that law is an advocate of justice, we need to look deeper to explore its innovations, purpose and function.
From the beginning, it seems that human groups have sought to define guidelines for acceptable norms of behaviour and consequences for breaking those norms, to keep people safe and to provide healthy functioning societies and unity. This impulse is innate and visible from the beginning of natural socialisation in tiny children, who in play will often stop to discuss what is allowed or not in their games. Further, they will call a stop to rethink a guideline or rule, if it proves to be unfair or un workable. Its fundamental to human and social functioning, regardless of political or social bias. Part of human behaviour, function and growth.
The problem is that when laws are made primarily by one sector of society, they reflect their views primarily but impact all. Their view of what is right, wrong, fair and advantageous, to them and their view of the world. There are no checks and balances as other sectors of society are not included in the law-making. Not included because they didn’t receive the educational opportunities and support that could allow them to take part as lawyers or politicians. (It is extremely difficult, but not impossible for some from disadvantaged backgrounds to reach places of status and recognition. While some make it, it is a monumental task that they should be commended for and is relatively rare and of course they never get to belong to the elite club.) Further, if those laws are enshrined as if they are Gospel: Not to be explored, challenged or changed, even when they are found to be inequitable, biased or are plain wrong and actually do not ally at all, with common sense, the changing or present social attitudes, we have a deep problem.
Many political leaders of both sides over the past few weeks, in response to current political Rape allegations, refer to The Law, as if it is God given, set in stone and in a manner that implies, it is blasphemous to even question it, let alone consider the possibility of updating or changing it to reflect present situations and expectations of societal and women’s human rights.
The laws are formed primarily by white, middle to upper class, privileged, men educated in Western interpretations of history, primarily coming out of the violence, inequity and justification of colonisation and patriotism. These men are frequently educated in single sex schools and socialised from birth into a sense of privilege and power over women and lower socio-economic or other ethnic groups. This is entrenched by families that are frequently male-dominated with mothers and sisters taking on secondary or subservient roles and expectations.
To compound this further, most of the religions of the world come from male prophets in each of the major religions. The religious books and texts have been primarily written and preached by men.
So where have the women been?
Women have been and continue to take the majority load of unpaid work in most families. Unpaid and deeply valuable work, that is not acknowledged in society at all. This has been condoned by the entrenched unfounded male belief, that women are not as intelligent or as rational as men and cannot lead or function as well as men outside the home environment. Details Women have been until recently, fully occupied with childrearing, housework and home duties, with few opportunities or expectations to do much more. Thanks goodness for the Suffragettes and the women’s movement that followed, as more recently, many women continue the major role of home duties and child-rearing, while also juggling career and paid employment as well. The traditional women’s role for many is still not valued by society by many men and frequently and sadly by all women. Many women who have been taken into the ranks of the men in professional or political roles or are deeply entrenched in their own conditioning in patriarchal families and societies, look down on those who have made different choices or found themselves in unavoidable circumstances. Those who take time out for birthing and childrearing or look after family members or elderly parents, are not valued by society, receive no payment and therefore have little or no superannuation, so that many of these women in old age are finding themselves stranded, homeless and without a respectful place in society. Our mothers, grandmothers, sisters and possibly ourselves, not valued for our time and the care and the love we provide.
While this may be seen as a simplistic analysis, women occupy more than 50.8 % of the world’s population and occupy a much smaller percentage of roles in politics, management and leadership roles.
Inequity between the sexes in terms of power is indisputable and deeply intrenched by history, religion, tradition, old beliefs and the need to maintain power by men. This leads to exclusions, put downs, bullying, shaming, control and physical and sexual abuse. While men of privilege remain primarily in charge of law making, I for one will not be holding my breath for change to take place anytime soon, but strongly support the many women who are protesting and the large volume of men with them too and call on all women to follow this movement. Remember if you are a woman of power, privilege or status, you too are indebted to the brave women who went before us. Suffragettes and the women’s movement. If not for them I and you may not be where we are today. If you find that hard to acknowledge, look at your allegiances, insecurities, motivations and intentions. Look at your fear of not pleasing your, father, brothers, male employers and colleagues if you dare to break rank, to be with the sisterhood on this global human rights issue.
I also feel for the men that have been caught in the net of privilege. Did not choose such conditioning that family, education and society has given them, but having realised it, encourage them to break free and find their own voice. You don’t have to have daughters to feel compassion for women who are or have experienced abuse or bullying, you just have to be a free thinking, compassionate human being.
Change needs to take place on all levels. Relationships in dating, between partners, lovers and spouses, how we parent, the roles we hold within the family system, respect for elders, education, employment and politics. Most of all women demand and deserve respect for who they are. To be appraised for their personalities, qualities, choices, abilities, achievements as a human being and not for their gender.
The same argument may be made for racism generally. Also for aboriginal incarcerations and deaths in custody and the lack of respect in not being given a treaty in their homeland. All issues that receive no attention and no respect.
We have a long way to go, but this is a step in waking up to who we are and what we stand for and insisting that laws that are not in-line with justice and fairness, that shut down or persecute victims, rather than perpetrators, must be changed.
I work with helping people in recovery of trauma and sexual-abuse and training practitioners in this work. I have new and powerful ways of assisting with generational and personal trauma recovery.
I have a vision of living in a fairer world where gender, socio economic status or race are no longer points of prejudice, but rather to be celebrated in providing us with great depth, diversity and richness. Where food, good quality education and housing are available to all, so that the most able of all nations may rise to positions of power, regardless of gender, race or class, in not only fulfilling their potential, but also making the world a place I am proud to be part of.
Our world needs vision to aspire to.
Yildiz Sethi is an innovator of psychotherapies, the founder of Emotional Mind Integration and Rapid Core Healing, author of three books Amazon and founder of New Dawn: Recovery From Sexual Abuse
Yildiz holds online sessions and online professional training