Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Women: Guilty For Their Own Abuse?

Victim of women?
When Hernán Darío 'el Bolillo' Gómez, coach of the national football team, hit his female companion outside a bar in Central Bogotá early one recent morning, perhaps he considered it a normal act: something a man had a right to do in private.

But because Gómez lashed out in public, his violence has opened a debate about violence against women. And, incredibly, for some people the victim is Gómez.

Journalists, politicians and corporate sponsors all condemned Gómez, who apologized, offered a letter of resignation and began psychological treatment.

Sen. Rendon. 
But Gómez probably had not figured on the support he'd receive. Conservative Senator Liliana Rendón affirmed that she opposed violence, but then seemed to justify Gómez's actions. "One has to look at what happened at that time," she said. "He's not an aggressive guy....There's a pathology of women that incites, that induces grave reactions. It's a problem which they need to resolve between the two of them."

If her own husband abused her, Rendón added, "it would be because I earned it."

Colombian Football Federation Vice President Álvaro González also backed Gómez, accusing Gómez's critics of a "double morality" because of all of the other bad things which have happened in Colombia. González didn't explain how two wrongs can make a right and seemed to believe that Gómez work as coach was more important than his personal behavior.  

Violence is serious business for Colombian football, which has been scarred by violent fans called 'barras bravas,' who have even committed murders during drunken post-game fights. Such behavior comes from an environment of violence and alchohol. But it's not clear whether the football federation, one of whose major sponsors is a beer company, will even fire Gómez.

Parchita: innocent victim?
And where others get sympathy, women seem to get the blame. This March, when a player on a Colombian football team kicked an owl which had landed on the field, the player received death threats and was suspended. When I take out my dog Parchita I usually receive a stream of well-meaning criticisms from concerned passers-by: I should keep the dog on her leash; I should let her off her leash: I'm abusive for making her run instead of carrying her, etc etc. I can only imagine the uproar if i were to hit the dog. But if she were a girlfriend instead of a dog, then probably whatever I did would be nobody else's business.

One news article reports that there were at least 90,000 cases of domestic violence in Colombia in 2010
- and those were only the ones which made it to the hospital. Only a small minority of women actually file criminal reports. Gómez's companion did not.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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