It has been 25 years since the Montreal Massacre where 25 year old Marc Lépine felt compelled to go on a murder spree against women attending the École Polytechnique [Montreal University branch]. He viewed the young women studying in the field of STEM as feminists [who were threatening his male identity]. He ordered the men to leave the classroom and after successfully separating the males from females, he pulled the trigger on his first 9 female victims—killing 6 and critically injuring 3. He then walked through the school and continued the murder spree before turning the gun on himself. His war on women lasted 20 minutes on the evening of December 6, 1989, and in those terrifying 20 minutes—14 women lost their lives and 10 other women were injured along with 4 men.   

He declared [to the students] he was at war with feminism. He left behind a suicide note identifying his targets, intentions and reasoning. He also expressed concerns of being painted a madman by the media by reassuring [in the note] that he is quite rational. As he shot the first 9 victims, he claimed they were studying to become engineers therefore they must be feminists. In Lépine’s world—a woman who makes use of her intellect is a feminist and deserving of death.

Misogyny walked the halls of an educational institution and took down 14 lives in its own honour that evening.

What Lépine felt wasn’t unique—many felt [and continue to feel] his pang—along with the MRA (Male Rights Activism) movement who hailed him a “hero”. He felt hatred for women who dared to live a life free of conformity to a patriarchal culture. His interpretation of “feminists” was women who were educated and independent—and so it was clear [to him] they had to die. He was sending these sinners to meet their “Maker” and soon after the massacre, the apologia and unnecessary confusion on the “why” began.

It had nothing to do with violence against women and girls (VAWG)—he was a “madman” with a gun and a knife [as he predicted he’ll be portrayed] who was ‘acting out’ because of his father’s abuse! Ignore his suicide letter—his words don’t matter. When it comes to the realm of crimes against the female gender—no amount of physical evidence is valid enough to deliver justice by labeling the crime for what it really is. What matters is how the world can now deviate from the concern of VAWG by deflecting this sinister act [deeply rooted from misogyny and sexism] and reiterate Lépine’s own view on how great women and girls have it in society.

For those living in the West, the name Elliot Rodger also rings a bell. He provided a manifesto declaring a “war on women” because they [the women] rejected his sexual advances. The manifesto also contained his contempt for other men who had better sexual opportunities [with women]. He also provided a scathing rant on his hatred for racial minorities and the LGBTQ. So, on May 23, 2014, in Isla Vista [California], the 22 year old Elliot Rodger casually commenced his “retribution” on the “sluts” and the men of these “sluts”, and the racial minorities and anybody else that was in the remote vicinity of his prowling. He murdered 6 people and injured 13 others before killing himself.

But society believed the trigger point of Rodger’s was a mental disorder because he killed men too—so there’s no way it could have been even partially triggered by misogyny—in fact, it was described as a non-VAWG crime because he was just a mentally unstable young man with an undiagnosed condition.

Rodger spent sufficient time in MRA forums [that are infamous for inciting VAWG and dictating misogyny and sexism]. His “retribution” video on YouTube specifically identified the source of his rage—which was that he was a lonely, sexually deprived, 22 year old male virgin [and the girls and women who had rejected him since he reached puberty needed to be punished for such “injustice” and “crime”]. He also blasted his family members and yet all the evidence contained in his manifestos clearly pinpoint the trigger was a result of rejection by the “beautiful” women and girls he had pursued.

They should have embraced him instead of being alarmed by his questionable behaviour! He’s the “supreme gentleman”—how could women and girls just pass up his charm?!

Once again—the killer’s own words are irrelevant even though he gave his reasoning on a platter of misogyny, sexism and racism topped with a dressing of narcissism and gun powder.

To brush this off as an act of another madman of society [who just happened to also have a misogynistic rage he thoroughly documented and left behind as evidence prior to the attacks] only encourages more boys and men who feel justified in their misogyny. 

I doubt the people who suffer from genuine mental illness take pleasure in being grouped in with the likes of Marc Lépine and Elliot Rodger and be indirectly implicated in acts of such violence as if they aren’t already facing enough abuse under the stigma of mental illness.

The horrific murder of Zahra Abdille and her two children [from Toronto] was one of the stories of VAWG and domestic violence that made headlines on November 29, 2014 in Canada.  

Zahra Abdille had fled to a shelter due to domestic violence. She expressed concerns for the safety of her two children, Faris and Zain, and herself, at the hands of her husband, Yusuf Abdille. She attempted to get custody of the children but she was a nurse and made more income than what would qualify her for assistance from Legal Aid Ontario (LAO)—so it was reported LAO refused her a certificate to retain a lawyer and her efforts for custody were presumed unsuccessful. What were her choices—or rather what was the only choice the system had left her? She couldn’t afford private housing or a lawyer to fight her abuser legally. So she went back to live with her husband, hoping for a reconciliation. Soon after Zahra and her two children returned to live with Yusuf, they were murdered. Yusuf then committed suicide by plummeting off a bridge and was run over by a vehicle.

If he can’t have her—no one else can—not even Zahra herself.

The skeptics of marital rape make the survival of women fleeing domestic violence more difficult. I would like to welcome these skeptics to the civilized world where a marriage contract has never once equated consent to sexual activity. 

A marriage contract is a unity of people—not a license to violate a woman’s body.   

VAWG is a primitive form of violence and oppression; it’s an age-old apartheid enforced by religion and other patriarchal fronts. The greatest threat to every woman and girl is daring to live even an ordinary life of choice free of male discretion—which the women and girls living in the East can attest to on a wider spectrum.

The nature of VAWG taking place in the East isn’t too different from the ones occurring in the West. The only obvious difference would have to be the navigation pertaining to the survival of the victims. The West provides safer access to resources for women and girls to deal with the abuse. The west also has a better legal support system protecting female rights along with better economical standard which helps fortify their survival.

Wherever there is VAWG—it goes hand in hand with financial abuse. Developing nations with economic gender inequality also has one of the worst rates of human rights abuse [disproportionately affecting the female population].

Pakistan is number two on the list led by Chad as the top two worst countries with economic inequality. Women in the West still make approximately 20% less on an equal job to their male counterpart—this ratio is much worse in the developing world. Over 70% of minimum wage jobs are also held by women and girls worldwide.

In the East, the rate of women dying by freak accidents like a kitchen gas explosion is questionably high [as it occurs often in south Asia]—especially when it is reported the in-laws have dowry feuds with the bride and her family.

Yes, “dowry” is still a thing in the East because nothing speaks “love” like buying a bride.

In the Middle East and Central Asia, countless women and girls have been horrifically injured or died as a result of being doused with acid and other forms of violence for refusing to wear certain religious attire or conform to the idea that females are inferior to males.

Less than 50% of females are literate in most developing nations, mainly due to cultural bans on education for their gender. The outrage the demand for universal education creates is beyond any logical comprehension. Malala Yousafzai, the brave little girl from Pakistan advocating for educational rights, took a bullet to the head for her line of activism. That’s how deadly it is to obtain education while being a female in some countries in the 21st century.

Every day, 23,000 girls under the age of 18 are forced to marry a man twice their age and end up becoming voiceless victims of physical and sexual abuse while being used for the purpose of giving birth—but criticizing this trend of human rights abuses foreigners deem “cultural and religious rights” is labeled “gross and racist” by western pseudo liberals like Ben Affleck who unwittingly promote gender apartheid and anti-liberal democracy in the developing world.

In nations like Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan—there is a great volume of female prisoners who are found “guilty” of “moral crimes” which range from being a victim of sexual violence to domestic violence. There is also an alarming rate of women being accused of “adultery” by their husband whenever there are unresolved marital conflicts—and the punishment for such a crime is almost always death.

And in all nations—there’s foeticide—where the fetus is aborted simply because it is a female instead of a male. With this kind of parental love—who needs the MRA?

In the USA, the rights of females are constantly under threat by religious and conservative zealots. Recently, the state of Michigan passed a bill banning abortion coverage in insurance plans and suggested if a woman or girl require abortion due to sexual violence—these women and the parents of underage female children should buy a separate insurance plan that will cover abortion in the case of rape. Basically, consider yourselves as a future rape victim if you want an abortion after being impregnated by rape. Haven’t you realized by now that VAWG can be committed upon you at any random time and if you don’t have this “rape insurance” handy—you’ll be forced to relive the trauma by giving birth to a child who was created through an abhorrent crime committed upon you. That’s the message USA is working hard to enforce on its female population.

Who can forget Arizona? It’s another state in the USA, much like Michigan, and it too is eager to trample on the rights of women and girls. They want to grant employers the right to fire female employees who take birth control for the prevention of pregnancy—in other words—dictate their sexual life. As if religious and cultural fanaticism wasn’t already keeping the rights of women and girls in the dark ages—this land of the free that preaches about democracy wants to police women’s sexual lives and meddle with their reproductive rights which play a primary role in VAWG.

A woman or girl who is suffering VAWG is undeniably in the most vulnerable state while pregnant. Most victims who report physical and sexual abuse at the hands of an intimate partner also reported the severity of violence escalated when they were discovered to be pregnant.

The number one killer of women is not cancer—it is in fact VAWG. While a little over 6,500 US soldiers died in the Iraq and Afghanistan war combined—almost 12,000 women died within the same period in USA as a result of VAWG.

In Canada, over 3000 women flee domestic violence every night and live in shelters [with their children] just so they don’t end up becoming a gruesome evening news scene. Understand that if these women did not have a shelter to find refuge in—they will become homeless with their children which increases vulnerability to all sorts of violence from rape [by strangers] and kidnapped and forced into the slave-sex-trafficking industry which is globally a multimillion dollar “business” and a vast majority of its victims also happen to be women and children.

Race-based misogyny is as prevalent as any other form of misogyny. Women and girls of colour face a dire form of systematic and domestic abuse. Their rights as immigrants is already limited by the system that dehumanize their gender only to be further crippled by the phobia of the melanin levels in their body [or I can just say their “skin colour” but I really don’t want to oversimplify the bigotry of racism]. VAWG is a double threat to this female population because they have to endure both cultural and race-based misogyny.  

Many women are scrutinized for not “leaving” abusive relationships—yet nobody dare tell them where they are supposed to go legally. As explained above, the system makes sure majority of victims are financially less privileged so they can’t move to another country or city nor can they afford a lawyer or shelter in moments of need. It’s like being trapped in a warzone and being denied refuge in neighboring countries, just waiting to be killed.

Even in cases of highly documented domestic violence—family courts rarely allow a mother to relocate to another city with her children [far from the abusive parent] because even if he had beat and raped the mother, he still has the right to see the children [even if he had abused the children too]—so the children always end up becoming used as leverage [by the abuser] to punish the woman for ending the relationship. And if by chance she does find her own housing—the abuser will stalk her and the children at work and/or at school. 

So why doesn’t she just get a restraining order? Assuming we’re discussing the VAWG occurring in the Western world [because in most developing Eastern nations, there’s no such thing as a “restraining order” for women fleeing violence]—a restraining order isn’t as powerful as many believe and it isn’t simple to obtain either. If the courts do grant a restraining order and the abuser starts violating it—the chances of the abuser being found guilty of contempt of the order is difficult. He can violate the order 6 times in a row and still the police will refuse to lay charges because in the court of law—the act of violating the restraining order must be proven as an “intentional” act. So as long as the abuser keeps claiming the violations were all “accidental”—he will rarely face charges. And on most stalking cases related to VAWG and domestic violence—the stalker ends up murdering or physically harming his partner and/or their children.

When it comes to male stalking—the likelihood of it escalating to sexual or physical violence and/or murder is exponentially high in comparison to female stalking and that is the statistic which helped set a better foundation to combat VAWG in Canada [by enforcing the police to view all stalking complaints as legitimate]—not that it has prevented stalkers from stalking their victims but it had rather provided a relief from the world of skepticism and empowered victims to come forward.

So, back to the question of “why doesn’t she just leave him”—are these women supposed to leave their children with their abusive partner and flee for their own safety or do they take a chance and remain with the abuser to continue being tortured so their children aren’t harmed behind closed doors and suffer as they did? The court system is definitely not giving them a fair chance to fight the abuse legally.

Damned if she leaves and damned if she stays. That’s “why”.

We know the names of the victims of Marc Lépine, Elliot Rodger and Yusuf Abdille—they’re all just a simple Google search away. But what about the names of victims we don’t read or hear about? We know that in Canada a woman is murdered by her intimate partner every 5 days—but the media doesn’t report about a dead woman every 5 days. So where are the tears of indignation and outrage for this unprecedented scale of violence [stemming from misogyny] women and children face across every nation on this planet we dare call home?

If the world collectively writes obituaries every time a women and girl are killed by male entitlement—would that reduce the skepticism? Rejecting the scale of VAWG is no different from rejecting science and insisting the Earth is flat and at the center of the universe and the human race was birthed from the incestuous relationship of Adam and Eve’s children. If you believe in evolution—it’s time to start considering the evolution of misogyny which is being celebrated as “culture”, “tradition” and “religion”.

 The finest way to discuss VAWG is through the most flagrant method of communication—laying out facts just the way they are without filters and frills. Women and girls are human beings—their lives aren’t tainted material that must be filtered for the usage of someone else for the purpose of “tradition”.

 Only solution to end VAWG [and domestic violence] is to denounce the objectification of the female gender and make solidarity for these victims louder than the silence that keeps them bound and bruised and leaves them much too often in a pool of their own blood.

 VAWG is in fact a global health crisis—affecting millions of women and girls. This continues to make Feminism a valid and necessary movement no matter how much it is deemed a glorified villain by the world of Patriarchy because in this world of Patriarchy—there will be neither proper justice nor democracy until women, girls and LGBTQ are emancipated from its grip.

People often conveniently forget that females are co-creators of society. There isn’t a foot of intellectual value in any society until absolute equality is mandated as a fundamental human right [for all genders] across the globe [without prejudice] and until the occurrence of this phenomenon—humanity will continue to squander its mutual endurance and commit itself to a much darker social crisis.  

 If you want to help end VAWG—it’s imperative to concede to its reality—concede to the fact that it’s the most prevalent form of violence. Most acts of VAWG are almost never committed in the hallways of a public institution or sidewalks, nor do the abusers leave behind a manifesto to identify their guilt. It’s committed behind closed doors where the only witnesses are the abusers and their victims which is why the only person who can actually “stop” VAWG is the abuser. The only way the abuser can do this is by acknowledging the victims as equal human beings and the only way to even remotely convince abusers of this fact is by holding them accountable for their own actions.  

It’s a tough pill to swallow when one lives in a glass house thriving off the convenience provided by the enslavement of the female gender.

Racism triggers people to protest and march the streets, demanding justice. But for misogyny—the most common serial element in all races, cultures, religions and nationalities—all it triggers is skepticism and mockery. Every life matters—which means female lives matter too—so hashtag that.

Misogyny isn’t a faceless, invincible God that creates nonbelief—it is a tyrant in the form of the worst human rights abuse taking place since the dawn of civilizations and into the 21st century. It has a face. It has a name—violence against women and girls.

Before the arrival of our next century, we must canvas VAWG and apply permanent solutions. It’s beyond appalling to witness tolerance to a world that romanticizes misogyny as culture, religion and tradition. What’s more devastating is how it is worshiped in the name of bronze aged nonsense. It’s time to issue a confession on this collective bigotry and end it once and for all.

Willful ignorance will not alter the necessity to leave behind the puerile mindset and get used to the reminder of what greatness every living, breathing women and girls could have been long accomplishing since the get-go if only they hadn’t been dehumanized and enslaved to childbirth and male egotism.

Aki Muthali is a freelance writer, who's a feminist. Born and raised in Sri Lanka, she currently lives in Canada. She’s also an illustrator and a painter. Follow her on Twitter