“One of the most devastating human rights violations:
Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today.
Gender inequality persists worldwide. Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will require more vigorous efforts, including legal frameworks, to counter deeply rooted gender-based discrimination that often results from patriarchal attitudes and related social norms, as stated by the UN Secretary-General, in his latest report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Some intolerable facts:
Violence against women is the most extreme form of discrimination. According to the aforementioned report, on the basis of data from 2005 to 2016 for 87 countries, 19 per cent of women between 15 and 49 years of age said they had experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the 12 months prior to the survey. In the most extreme cases, such violence can lead to death. In 2012, almost half of all women who were victims of intentional homicide worldwide were killed by an intimate partner or family member, compared to 6 per cent of male victims.” United Nations
Domestic violence occurs in all parts of the world, in all countries, in all cultures, in all socio-economic groups, and in all religious and non-religious groups. We need to examine why domestic violence occurs and what are the possible remedies to alleviate this grievous situation that occurs in so many homes. Families are disrupted and broken; they are subjected to economic, social and emotional hardships. It is a problem common to human beings everywhere. In this article I shall examine domestic violence from different angles and try to make a coherent sense out of it, and suggest possible solutions.
First of all we can categorize domestic violence into (a) Physical (b) Verbal and (c) Passive. Physical violence is immediately obvious and results in direct use of physical force, and often with weapons. Physical violence results in physical injuries and/or death. Often various weapons are used such as guns, knives, iron bars, wooden bats etc. I have knowledge of a husband who stabbed one of my patients in the abdomen with a knife. He was arrested and imprisoned. We are aware of several Indo-Canadian women who were murdered by their husbands in the last several years. We are sadly aware of the Bangladeshi professor, Rumana Manzur, who was studying at U. B. C. for her master’s degree in political science, and was blinded by her husband on a visit to her home in Bangladesh. This year she graduated from U. B. C. with a law degree.
Verbal violence is also immediately obvious and takes the form of verbal abuse, criticism, insult, defamation, shouting and impoliteness. It often results in lowering of self-esteem of the victim, and a lack of emotional and psychological support, as well as chronic anxiety and depression.
The passive violence may be called passive aggressive violence. It is not immediately obvious and consists of passive resistance to the needs or expectations of others. It also consists of withdrawal of love and emotional support, apathy, and manipulation of events in order to cause emotional or perhaps physical harm to the victim.
The physical and verbal violence can be thought of as direct violence because they are quite obvious that the perpetrator of the violence is attacking the victim. The passive aggressive type of violence is indirect and it is not immediately discernable. For example, if one partner in a marriage has a certain need, then the other partner will deliberately not fulfill that need, without necessarily saying anything. A simple example would be that the wife would like her husband to buy some ice cream, but he purposely “forgets.” Another example may be between two friends, one of whom would like to go to a party, and the other sabotages the going by making some excuse about having other commitments. Passive aggressive violence often manifests as procrastination, sulking, irritability, and argumentativeness, deliberately doing everything very slowly or protesting without justification. There is often resentment and obstruction of efforts of others, and also unreasonably criticizing or scorning people in authority. Some of these characteristics are contained in the diagnostic criteria for psychiatric problems.
Perhaps we can try to figure out the causes of domestic violence. It is quite obvious that anger is involved. Hate, ego and pride are often also involved. Anger can occur very quickly, at the spur of the moment, so to speak, whereas hate, pride and ego are more pervasive and long lasting. Other conditions such as greed, jealousy and selfishness are also present in committing domestic violence.
Since it is common human nature to love that which is good, and which brings peace and happiness, and to dislike that which brings harm, it is obvious that whatever can remove domestic violence will be a great asset to all humanity. Foremost among the attributes to be developed is love and compassion for others. There must also be respect and good communication. It is essential to allow other people to express themselves and to achieve self-actualization and growth. In other words, one must not stifle the aspirations of another. To achieve a state of peace one must exercise self-control. Self-control does not occur automatically by merely thinking about it. One has to constantly practice self-control of all the negative emotions that lead to violence. One of the surest antidotes for domestic violence is to live a spiritual life. This recognizes the intrinsic value of other people. In the final analysis, if you truly love others as you love yourself, then you will definitely not practice violence. The golden rule is not to do to others what you would not like them to do to you. Treat others with love, understanding, compassion and forgiveness, and your life will be enriched, and the lives of those around you will also be enriched. But these attributes need to be taught from childhood by parents, teachers and religious authorities for them to serve a useful purpose in later life.
Dr. Jagessar Das
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