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Violence against women
Jill Boyles

by Jill Boyles

Istanbul, Turkey
Colorful scarves billowed from a shop as I wandered down Istiklal Caddesi after a day of teaching. Hand-painted ceramics bearing sultans' signatures lined shelves and silver bracelets bearing Nazar Boncugu-the Turkish Evil Eye-glinted from glass cabinets. A man slaps a saleswoman's face.

Dalian, China
Walking on Lantian Jie with my female colleague, we heard what sounded like a wounded animal in pain and looked in the direction of the sound. A woman was crouched on the ground covering her head with her hands while a man punched and kicked her. A little girl looked on screaming. Pedestrians walked by seemingly unaffected.

As an ex-pat, I forget that in the U.S., violence against women occurs rarely in public and usually takes place behind closed doors. If a woman were to seek help, there are services for her. However, in developing countries, few such services exist.

I also forget that in the U.S., focus is on the victim, not the perpetrator. When I witnessed those acts of violence in Turkey and China, I wanted to hurt the men, really hurt them. I was livid while my heart reached out to the women. Where is women's and men's rage against the perpetrators in the U.S.?


I left that store in Turkey stunned by this naked violence and unsure of what to do, so I asked a female colleague who had been teaching in Turkey for years what I could have done. Nothing, she replied. A few weeks later, I was running alongside the Bosphorus training for the Eurasia 15K when a man in his 20s spat at me. Undeterred, I continued to train albeit indoors on a treadmill and ran the Eurasia 15K. A small victory, but one won for the female sales clerk and me. A small victory we could claim being I'm a foreigner.

In China, my colleague and I ran yelling toward the man who immediately backed off. We sat with the woman while she hugged her daughter. Soon, there was a crowd of Chinese around us. The man lunged at the woman again, but this time the men held him off, and he eventually walked away. Women consoled the woman and child, so my colleague and I left. Another small victory, but we knew this wouldn't be the woman's last beating or her daughter's witnessing of those beatings.

One assumes that a developed country is civilized and utilizes reason rather than violence whereas the opposite sometimes happens in developing countries. However, can any country be considered civilized when the beating of women occurs, either behind a closed door or in front of it?

Jill Boyles resides in New Hope but currently teaches in Dalian, China.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, March 19, 2012
Article comment by: Suela Deva

I remember that I once had to protect my sister a long time ago from a very angry and violent guy outside of our school. He wanted to beat my sister. In order to protect her, I had to fight, with punches and kicks. Because we had no brother, I had to step in the spotlight and become one for my sister. Since that day no one touched us again. I believe that no matter where you live, whether in a big country or a small country, you will find men that like to use violence in order to obtain what they want and treat women as objects that belong to them. Women must learn to physically defend themselves and empower themselves in any society that they live in. The violence doesn’t solve anything, but sometimes you got to use the same tools to teach the man a lesson.

Posted: Monday, March 5, 2012
Article comment by: Janet Ross-Pilla

Kudos to Jill Boyles for her perseverance and compassion in the face of the unknown. Perhaps the difference between the two incidents had to do with strength in numbers and all it took in Dalian, China was the presence of one more person to create a web of outrage and support. Women will always need strength in numbers to be heard but sometimes two women on the other side of the world can make a difference--just ask the poor woman whose beating was stopped bruised organs or broken bones spared if only that once. My hat's off to you Jill!

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