Women,Gender and Violence
This paper discussesviolence against women especially in the North American society,particularly the lives of youngAboriginal women. Women are often economically dependent on theirpartners, which in itself makes them vulnerable to violence-physical,verbal, sexual, etc. Violence against women and children takesmany forms. Whether it is conducted publicly or privately, in officesand homes, it involves a wide range of behaviors. One form ofviolence against women is physical abuse. Women are physically weakerthan their male counterparts and in case of a heated argument, thelater will likely to subject their women to physical beating.Similarly, violence against women may be in the form of sexual abuse.Sexual assault includes every act of forced sex such as sexualactivities without consent rape, assaulting of genitals or usingsexually degrading insults.
This paper willfocus on violence against women and children, its consequentialeffect and measures taken by the society to tackle the situation.
Women,Gender and Violence
Violenceagainst women in our society is generally unrecognized. With theexception of a murder case, which mainly attracts attention in one’sown Province, or State, few if any, are aware of the incidence ofviolence (in all forms) against women and children in our society.
Issues pertaining togender violence have been rampant in the news and in the currentdiscussion forums. This is because gender violence regardless of thedirection, violates human rights provisions and it has adverseeffects on the victim and to the whole family at large. Studies haveshown that gender violence is widespread and occurs in all societiesregardless of geographical location, social status, cultural beliefsand religious beliefs. In many cases of gender violence, the victimis usually a woman and the perpetrator of the violence is her malecounterpart. However, the personal safety survey indicated that onein every three victims of gender violence is a male with perpetratorsbeing female. The prevalence rate of gender violence is more inwomen that is 2/3rds than in men which is 1/3(National intimatePartner and sexual violence Survey, 2010).1
35 percent of thewomen worldwide have experienced sexual abuse from their intimatepartners or non-partners. According to the report by Nationalintimate Partner and sexual violence Survey, 19.3% 0f women in US hadbeen raped. Also, early marriages to forced partners have alsocontributed to violence against women. More often than not, femalechildren are married below the age of 18 years (National intimatePartner and sexual violence Survey, 2010).2Suchbrides are unable to negotiate for safer sex exposing them tosexually transmitted diseases and early pregnancies. Women from poorfamilies are also more likely to be married in their childhood thanwomen from the wealthy families.
Women also sufferfrom social abuse where they are blamed by their partners foreverything that goes wrong. In particular, social abuse occurs when awoman is isolated from the family members and friends. Such familiesare rude towards the woman, forbidding them from meeting theirfriends or ever leaving their homes, keeping them in isolation.Lastly, women are subjected to economic abuse whereby all familyfinances and properties are controlled by their partners. They arenot allowed to have or access bank account and they are only providedwith the minimum amount of money to run the household chores. Thatis, they are more limited and constrained in the daily to dailyundertakings.
The rape of womenhas immense economic, social and legal advantages that are seldomarticulated. Put plainly, rape works. It is a tool of sexism, andlike racism, it exists because it “works” (Jane Doe, 2003).3A raped woman is framed socially and within the law as somethingbroken. There is a general but grudging acceptance that it isn’treally her fault, but if she has done something else, gone in anotherdirection, not had that drink or worn that dress or smiled that way,it might never have happened. Ever, raped women are fallen women.Pushed really, but the shame is on them a stain like original sin,not of their making but never to be removed or forgotten. Raped womencannot display their rage or joy or sexuality. They cannot beglamorous or successful or funny. They certainly cannot be agents ofsocial and political change. There are many reasons for this presentand historical construction of the woman who has been raped. They areas intricate as political systems, as revered as sacraments (JaneDoe, 2003).4
Violence has adversenegative effects on women ranging from immediate effects to long-termeffects. Such women may suffer from emotional distress, physicalmalformations and disabilities due to physical assaults. They feelunsafe and are unable to participate fully in their societies. Amongthe most recent reported cases of the violence against women is themurder of 33-year-old Sylvie Cachay, a fashion designer who wasstrangled and drowned in a hotel bathtub by her intimate partner,Nicholas Brooks. Before she was murdered, she had previouslysuffered from physical and emotional violence and tried to break upwith her partner (CBS News, January 2014).1
Another case thatgeared domestic violence was reported in Pennsylvania, whereby thelandlord had put a policy of evicting tenants who call the policemore than three times in four months in their homes. Most of thevictims of domestic violence feared to call the police since theyfeared losing their homes. The ordinance placed by the Norristown’sblamed domestic violence victims for crimes occurring in their homes.Briggs was one of the tenants who feared calling the police. Her ex-boyfriend had been physically assaulting her and ended up stabbingher in the neck with a broken glass (ABC 7 News, Sep 2014).2
Similarly, the caseof Jessica Gonzales about the murder of her three daughters by herhusband brought into attention the failures of US government toprotect women from spousal violence. The case is about JessicaGonzales daughters who were abducted by her estranged husband andkilled after the Colorado police failed to enforce a restrainingorder against the husband. Gonzales had repeatedly informed thepolice about her fears for the safety of her three daughters, but thepolice did not respond promptly. Later on, her husband appeared inthe police station and attempted to fire, where he was shot by thepolice. The bodies of her three daughters were found lying in thepick-up. The commission ruled in favor of Jessica and recommendedreforms at federal and state levels to ensure protection of women andchildren from domestic violence (ABC 7 News, October 2014).3
Many women who weremurdered by their spouses were pleading for help from the authoritiesbegging for protection before their deaths (Ward, 2009 53).4Theprimary reason why many women and children are killed is becausesomeone in the legal authority was reluctant in addressing their pleaof justice and protection thereby letting such crimes go unsettledand unpunished. Other victims lack safe exit plans or strategies asthey fear losing their homes and families. Victims of economicviolence may also lack finances to help them exit their“relationships”. Making such resources available will help thevictims of gender-based violence to escape before it is too late.
Unfortunately, it isnoted that some forms of violence against women seem to be fosteredby the manner in which the government treats women. According toCrowl and Gottell (2008 208), individuals that are treated with someelement of inequality by the government become vulnerable to societaldiscrimination, as well as racism in instances where they are from adifferent marginalized ethnic group. This is the case for theAboriginal women, who are victims of more inequality compared totheir male counterparts. In the same book, Jiwani brings to the forethe case of a 14-year old called Reena Virk who had been murdered inVictoria, British Colombia. Even worse is the fact that she wasbeaten by a group of girls and a young boy. Even worse is the mannerin which the media treated the issue, avoiding subjects such aspressures of assimilation, racism and sexism as they concentrated ongirl-on-girl violence (Crowl & Gottell, 2008 180).5In instances where the media concentrated on these issues, theyfocused on aspects such as her appearance, insinuating that herheight and heaviness barred her from acceptance into the society(Crowl & Gottell, 2008, 202).6 Another case is thedisappearance and murder of Loretta Saunders, a pregnant Inuk(indigenous) student who lived in Halifax (CTV News, July 2014).
“The murder of Loretta Saunders, a young scholar who researchedmissing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada, reveals thestructural violence that compounds violence against women, and thestinging injustice of Canada’s 825 lost Aboriginal women” (50-50Inclusive Democracy, March 2008).7
Inaddition, it is noted that the violence against women may be rootedin the degradation of women. Gender stereotypes have underlined thenotion that women are inferior intellectually, in which case they areincapable of making decisions or voicing their concerns in a coherentmanner. This is exactly why few people take seriously their ideas ormany men do not believe that a “no” means “no” and thatanything short of a “yes” is a no (Crowl & Gottell, 2008,202).8
A closer look at thedaily TV news and daily newspapers reveal that incidences of womenviolence are more rampant and common. There is always a trend thatfollows rape cases followed by domestic violence. At least there is aviolence related case every week on TV, either domestically orinternationally, that is related to the female gender. In thesenewspapers, the violence cases are usually placed aside frompolitical issues which take core effect in the headlines. That isthey are peripherally placed. More often than not, the victims areusually women who suffer a lot as compared to men are the usual chiefperpetrators that commit this violence and atrocities. Things arenormally resolved by the male gender because they are considered asthe supreme judges, while their female counterparts are deemed to beless important and inferior (THE GLOBE & MAIL, 2009).1
In conclusion,violence against women exposes a country into huge economic burdendue to the tremendous costs involved. The costs include health care,legal cost, reduced productivity and loss of innocent lives. The USGovernment spends $92 million dollars on average per year on genderviolence related activities (USAID report, 2010, pp 7).2Genderviolence affects every community across ethnic groups andsocio-economic status (Neft, 1998 132).3 Crimes such asdomestic violence are so rampant that they have become a publichealth crisis. Many countries have made effort to protect women byincorporating laws against such violent acts against women. The majorburden lies on the implementation of such laws which denies womenaccess to justice. The government should therefore, instigate effortsto curb violence against women and hold the police accountable ifthey fail. However, efforts of the government by itself are notenough to curb violence against women, domestic violence and violenceagainst marginalized groups. Systems which will bring together theefforts of the advocates, community members and survivors to help thevictims of such violent cases create safe exit plans and report them.
Morgan, J (2004). Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in NewWorld Slavery, New York: University of Penn. Press
Neft, N & Levine, A (1998). Where Women Stand: AnInternational Report on the Status of Women. New York: RandomHouse. p. 132.
Ward, M & Edelstein, M. A (2009). World Full of Women (6thedition). New York: Pearson. p. 53.
CBS News, January2014.
Crowand Gottel. pp. 180-202.
Jane Doe, TheUltimate Rape Victim, 2003
National intimatePartner and sexual violence Survey, 2010
October 2014, ABC7 News
Sep 2014, ABC 7News
THE GLOBE &MAIL, 2009
USAID report in2010, pp 7
50-50 Inclusive Democracy, March 2008
1 National intimate Partner and sexual violence Survey, 2010
3Jane Doe, The Ultimate Rape Victim, 2003
21CBS News, January 2014.
2 ABC 7 News, Sep 2014
3 ABC 7 News, October 2014.
4Ward, M & Edelstein, M. A (2009). World Full of Women (6th edition). New York: Pearson. p. 53.
5 Crowl & Gottell, 2008. pp 180-202
6ibid., p. 180.
750-50 Inclusive Democracy, March 2008.
8Crowl, op. cit., p. 202.
31 THE GLOBE & MAIL, 2009.
2 Neft, N & Levine, A (1998). Where Women Stand: An International Report on the Status of Women. New York: Random House. p 132