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24 October 2007

Domestic Violence

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

By Hoda Nassef

Violence Against Children:

Domestic violence is an especially sensitive issue because it is typically associated with conflict between husband and wife. Yet, as we have learned, domestic violence does not always involve confrontation between a husband and wife. Child abuse is an integral component of domestic violence: in 70% of families where wife abuse occurs there is also physical abuse of the children. Statistics claim that at least 30% of women in Egypt are the victims of domestic violence (wife beating, physical and emotional battering, etc.) Most probably the percentage is much higher, due to the fact that many women fear or are too ashamed to speak out and seek help, or divorce the abuser.

Inhumane domestic violence (including incest) is prevalent in Egypt, but nothing concrete yet has been done on how to help the victims abuse. We don’t have any “safe houses” in Egypt to protect them, but we should have a means of ommunicating with these victims of violence. Most children are too scared to report such violence, or don’t know any better. Some even think that the way they live is in fact the normal way of life. Television and the Ministry of Social Affairs should give more awareness to the public, and should find realistic means to help and protect the victims of domestic abuse, in particular, helpless abused children.

Violence Against Women:

Violence against women is the most widespread, yet the least recognised human rights abuse in the world. It denies women and girls equality, security, dignity, self-worth and their right to enjoy basic freedoms. It is also a serious health problem, draining women's energy, compromising their physical health and eroding their self-esteem. Reports of abuse from around the world confirm that domestic violence is a pandemic to which no one is immune. It is difficult to know the extent of this pandemic because of the hidden nature of domestic violence. Not only do families try to hide it because the abuser may threaten to kill the abused victim if she tells, but women are often too ashamed to report such incidents. In many countries there are no legal or social sanctions against the abuse so there is nowhere for these women to turn.


Many men use abuse women to control and dominate them because they believe their masculine identity depends on this image. In some cultures, as in Egypt, societies approve of the 'disciplining' of wives and the majority of the population usually ignore incidents of domestic violence. Even if the police are notified, they may feel reluctant to intervene in domestic problems in respect for the privacy of the family or mistaken vision of marital rights. There seems to be a fear in the community that if we admit that family violence occurs, we challenge the idea of what family means - mainly love, sanction, respect, safety and security.


Several NGO's abroad, and a couple newly founded NGOs locally, tentatively offer counselling, legal advice, and other services to women who are victims of domestic violence, especially in rural areas, as they are easier to approach than upper class or middle class and educated women. These NGOs also prepare gender awareness programmes in the rural areas, for both males and females, in order to change their perspective of the traditional misguided concepts of their roles in society. But, also came to the conclusion, after their preliminary researches, that in general the police and the judiciary system consider the "integrity of the family" more important than the well being of the women of the family.

Domestic violence against women is a significant problem and is reflected in press accounts. According to a national study conducted in 1995 as part of a comprehensive demographic and health survey, one of every three women who have ever been married has been beaten at least once during marriage. Among those who have been beaten, less than half have ever sought help. Smaller, independent studies confirm that wife beating is common.


"Violence against women" means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life. Violence against women encompasses physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, marital rape, and other traditional practices harmful to women, as well as violence related to exploitation. Domestic violence is a pattern of controlling behaviours aimed at gaining power in order to control an intimate partner. It is a pattern of assault and coercive behaviour, including psychological, sexual and physical abuse.

Types of Violence Against Women:

Some abusers will blame the victim for the abuse or use jealousy as an excuse as to why the abuse happened. All these types of violence are ways the perpetrator controls the victims' body and mind.


PHYSICAL ABUSE:
Starting with the most notorious: FGM (female genital mutilation, starting when they are young girls). Not only is the act itself is primitive, but it is done in terrible unhygienic conditions with onlookers to add humiliation to the barbaric act, and scars the child physically and psychologically for life.Also, slapping, punching, hitting, kicking, shoving, scratching, biting, throwing objects, threatening/attacking her with a weapon; locking her in/out of the house; abandoning her in a dangerous place; refusing to help her when you she is injured, sick or pregnant; deprivation of food; choking, pushing, tying her up; disfiguration;and finally, murder.


EMOTIONAL (PSYCHOLOGICAL) ABUSE:
Insulting/ignoring her; making her feel stupid/worthless; name calling and criticism;ridiculing her beliefs; humiliating her in public/private; intimidating or harassing her; monitoring her movements; being overly jealous or possessive; isolating her from family and friends; preventing her from going to school/college/work; attacking her children/pets; threatening to kill her/leave her/throw her out; threatening to kill himself or go mad if she leaves or does not do what he wants; threatening to harm family or property; coercing her into doing things that she find humiliating or against her moral/religious principles; lying, breaking promises, destroying trust; and/or false accusations, blaming her.


SEXUAL ABUSE:
Making her wear clothes or to do sexual things that make her uncomfortable or does not want to do; forcing her to have sex when she does not want to; raping her or threatening to rape her; forcing her to have sex with other people;

MARITAL RAPE:

In some countries, including Egypt, rape in marriage is not recognized by law, and in other countries where there is legal sanction against rape, many women do not define forced sex as rape if they are living with their attacker.

FINANCIAL/MATERIAL ABUSE:

Taking/spending her money;Preventing her from having a job;Taking or destroying her possessions;Spending most of the money on himself or giving her a small or no allowance; Expecting her to account for every cent or to do more with the money than is possible;Harassing her to the point that you turn over your salary/pay-cheque as a way of avoiding further abuse; And, restricting access to resources (bank accounts, money, food, etc.)

Violence against Men

Although domestic violence against men is not as prevalent, it is not an exclusive issue to women and children, especially in western societies. Men are often portrayed as strong and women as weak, which is the reason that so many people have difficulty realising that men are also victims of domestic violence.

Violence Against Senior Citizens

Unfortunately, parent-abuse is another phenomenon, usually suffered by elderly citizens through drug-related cases of addicted grown children, or coming from an uneducated milieu; i.e. they are beaten up, or their meagre finances are stolen by their offspring and other relatives. Abused elderly citizens suffer negligence in medication, nutrition, hygiene, and lack of basic comforts and respect. They are often thrown out of homes, or their own homes, and consequently suffer malnutrition, starvation, diseases and early deaths.

Main Causes of Violence…


There is not one specific cause of violence. Absence of moral or spiritual teaching and exposure to media violence increase violence levels. We all experience trauma, stress, anger and fear, but an abusive man chooses to abuse, as a way of dealing with his problems. He uses excuses to avoid taking responsibility for his behaviour. Frequently he tries to blame the woman for the abuse by saying that she is a bad wife, a bad mother, or both; that she provokes him or asks for it. He needs her to believe that she is bad and stay dependent on him.

Poverty, illiteracy, and living in a small, crowded space, increases the risk of violence. Financial insecurity is another factor. If a man cannot establish his authority intellectually or economically, he will tend to do so physically. Domestic violence is exerting control, not losing control.

The understanding that violence against women is a gender issue is gradually being accepted. Also, on a larger scale, those who lack power in society are the most likely victims of violence; they are vulnerable because they lack the means to resist abuse, to escape from dangerous situations and to secure protection from society.


And Main Effects...

There are many different effects that are caused by domestic violence. Health may be impaired, which includes anything from minor injuries to chronic problems. Children and young women are also greatly affected through both experiencing and witnessing abuse.

Emotional violence is often worse than physical violence, because it leaves a deep-rooted scar in the soul. As one victim said: "The body mends soon enough. Only the scars remain… But the wounds inflicted upon the soul take much longer to heal. And each time I re-live those moments, they start bleeding all over again. The broken spirit has taken the longest to mend; the damage to the personality may be the most difficult to overcome".


H.N.

The Platters

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