When you hear the word “violence” you immediately think of physical harm inflicted by an evil, inhumane and cold blooded criminal. We think of these violent crime as an unsightly deed that can only be portrayed by the cruellest of human beings. However we never stop to think about the violence we cause every day.

We as humans participate in these acts of violence daily, but unlike those inhumane criminals we do not commit these transgressions all at once, we commit these crimes gradually over a prolonged period of time (Nixon 2011:2). Slow violence is not a term that most of us are familiar with and those of us who are do not tend to associate slow violence with a crime (Nixon 2011:2).

Slow violence does not only affect us as humans, but it also affects our ecological systems (Nixon 2011:2). We think about violence as immediate, but the matter of the fact is slow violence occurs over prolonged period of time and as a result of this slow moving effect it is deemed as not crucial by the media (Nixon 2011:3).

When it is vacation time and everyone rushes to make plans for the holiday one of the most popular choices is the beach. The warm sand, the lovely weather and the smell of the fresh ocean breeze. We see the ocean as an escape from our busy lives, as a place of serenity after an unpleasant year, or even a home away from home. Yet our home away from home is one of the many places against which we carry out the act of slow violence. Slowly, but surely we pollute our oceans and beaches with litter and toxins and not before long the place of tranquillity will turn into a wasteland.

Vast amounts of rubbish and factory toxins are dumped into the ocean and the consequences thereof not only affects us, but it affects our ecosystem and our marine life. We are bombarded with images of pollution and animals dying due to pollution, yet we still turn our backs on prevention methods and conservation. Gradually ruining our oceans and marine life with slow violence and worst of all we do not consider or regard this to be a crime.

The slow violence inflicted on beaches and oceans has a ripple effect on our lives which not many of us are aware of. Polluting our oceans we are killing the oceanic life and as a result thereof the fishing industry declines, ensuring thousands of people and companies lose their livelihood. Not only will the unemployment rates increase causing further problems within the economy, but future generations will carry the full consequences of our mistakes.

This slow violence may not affect our generation or even those of our children, but future generations will be effected by all the damage caused over the years. Future generations will not be able to enjoy the ocean and what it has to offer as we did. Our beautiful and peaceful home away for home will be nothing more than a dumping ground destroyed by years of pollution. Mass extinction of oceanic life will be the reality of the future, by spoiling our oceans we are slowly participating in the extinction of a vast amount of marine life.

The ocean is not only a symbol of possibility, hope and beauty, it is also a symbol of childhood memories, family vacations and sheer admiration of marine life. Most of us can look back and say we have at least one childhood memory of vacationing at the beach with our family. Looking back on that vacation and recalling the joy we experienced seeing the ocean for the first time or the excitement we felt taking our first steps into the water, these are all part of our childhood memories which we cherish.

By polluting the ocean and beaches we are taking away the opportunity for future generations to create their own childhood memories. We need to stand together to prevent the pollution and destruction in order to assure those to come will be able to enjoy it as much as we did. If we stand together in the fight against this slow violence we can make a difference. A single drop of water cannot fill the ocean, just as a single person cannot save it, but if we work together and take a stand against slow violence we can make a difference.



This image shows how toxins and chemicals are being dumped into the ocean, polluting the ocean and the surrounding marine life. Kevin (photographer), 2012.


This newly discovered plastic dumping ground is located in the Indian Ocean. This photograph is an example of how pollution will affect future generations and their memory of the sea. Bongiorno, L. (photographer), 2016.


The destruction of not only the beaches and oceans, but also the destruction of our ecosystem and marine life is evident in this photograph. By destroying our ecosystem we are destroying the economy and thousands of people’s livelihoods. Renter, E. (photographer), 2014.


This photograph is an example of what can be accomplished if people started working together in order to prevent, repair the damaged caused by and eliminate pollution. The James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge and Kahuku Beach had 274 volunteers help in removing garbage from the beaches and ocean. Kokua Hawaii Foundation, (photograph), 2012.


Bongiorno, L. 2016. Coastal Care. [Online]
Available at: http://coastalcare.org/2010/08/new-garbage-patch-discovered-in-indian-ocean/
[Accessed 25 April 2016].

Kevin. 2012. Poopy.org. [Online]
Available at: http://poopy.org/water-pollution/oceans-a-convenient-dumping-ground/
[Accessed 25 April 2016].

Nixon, R. 2011. Slow violence and the enviromentalism of the poor. Cambridge: Harvard Press University 1-17.

Renter, E. 2013. Natural Society. [Online]
Available at: http://naturalsociety.com/fish-eat-plastic-polluted-oceans-travels-food-chain/
[Accessed 25 April 2016].

Wu, N. 2012. Honolulu Star Advertiser. [Online]
Available at: http://thegreenleaf.staradvertiserblogs.com/2012/01/23/what-capt-moore-wants-you-to-know-about-plastic/
[Accessed 25 April 2016].