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Violence against Women

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1 Violence against Women

2 Global Problem Widespread and serious (obviously) and must be addressed in any consideration of the psychology of women What impact does it have on a woman’s psychology for her to know that she may be vulnerable to violence in so many situations? How are her feelings affected by media treatments of violence? By the cultural norms and laws that relate to such violence? How does the fear of violence, or actually being a target of violence, affect her behaviour?

3 New Dehli, India A 15-year old girl married a man selected for her by her conservative Muslim parents. According to tradition, she came to the marriage with dowry of a refrigerator, furniture, and other household goods. The family could not afford one of the items demanded by the groom (a motorcycle). On their wedding night, the annoyed groom got drunk, and with three of his friends, took turns beating and raping his new wife. The girl returned to her parents who sought justice from the village council. Their ruling was that she should return to her husband and “let bygones be bygones”.

4 Seoul, South Korea A man who had been married for 20 years commented to a reporter that he, of course, beat his wife regularly throughout their marriage. “For me, it’s better to release that anger and get it over with … otherwise, I just get sick inside … Of course, you have to apologize later, otherwise you can have bad feelings in your relationship with your wife” . One survey revealed that 42% of South Korean wives said that they had been beaten by their husbands.

5 Minnesota, United States
Women working in an iron-ore mine filed suit against their employer and their union for failing to stop the sexual harassment that made their workplace a living hell. The women testified that they had been “groped, grabbed, pressured for sex, threatened with rape, beaten, stalked, and subjected to coarse language and graffiti”. Among the incidents the women recounted: men grabbing their crotches, stalking them during off-hours, masturbating into their lockers, addressing them as slang terms for female parts (instead of their names), and threatening them with rape and other physical violence.

6 Gujar Khan, Pakistan A husband came home one day and accused his wife of having an affair with her brother-in-law. She denied the accusation but the husband tied her up and slashed her face with a razor and a knife, cutting out her eyes and slicing off her earlobes and nose. While awaiting trial, the man stated: “I did these things, but I was going out of my senses. She was provoking me and ruining my life. What I did was wrong, but I am satisfied. I did it for my honour and my prestige”. Later, other local men who saw pictures of the woman’s mutilated face commented: “She must have deserved it” and that her husband “did what a man has to do”.

7 The Role of Culture Individuals are important but we also need to look beyond the psychology of individual women and men and try to understand how cultures (including “mini-cultures” such as workplaces, families) cooperate and reproduce the violence, even while sometimes deploring it What cultural forces support violence against women? What strategies work to minimize this violence in society?

8 Close Relationships Dating violence Husbands and wives
Psychological and emotional abuse Wife murder for money or “honour” Violence in lesbian couples Explaining partner abuse

9 Violence in Close Relationships
In North America, approximately 30% of female homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner In countries such as Bangladesh, Brazil, Kenya, and Thailand, this figure is over 50%

10 1. Dating Violence In North America, dating violence is estimated to occur in 20% of dating relationships Approximately 1/3 of the women involved in violent dating relationships expect to marry their abusers

11 Dating violence continued …
Why do women stay? Causal attributions that women make for men’s violent behaviour Violence occurs when the relationship is threatened through jealousy, dating others, suspicion of infidelity, or discussion about ending the relationship Therefore, women might interpret the violence as being a sign of the men’s commitment or love

12 Well I'd rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man You better keep your head, little girl Or I won't know where I am You better run for your life if you can, little girl Hide your head in the sand little girl Catch you with another man That's the end'a little girl Well you know that I'm a wicked guy And I was born with a jealous mind And I can't spend my whole life Trying just to make you toe the line You better run for your life if you can, little girl Let this be a sermon I mean everything I've said Baby, I'm determined And I'd rather see you dead You better run for your life if you can, little girl Hide your head in the sand little girl Catch you with another man That's the end'a little girl I'd rather see you dead, little girl Than to be with another man You better keep your head, little girl Or you won't know where I am (Run for your Life, The Beatles, 1965)

13 Dating violence continued …
Adolescent girls who report dating violence are more likely than other girls to report a number of other problems: Higher risk of substance abuse Unhealthy weight control behaviours More likely to have had 1st sexual experience before age 15 More likely to engage in risky sexual behaviours (e.g., many partners, no birth control) More likely to become pregnant in adolescence More likely to attempt suicide

14 Dating violence continued …
Although violent relationships are dangerous, terminating the relationship is also dangerous Many women are stalked and threatened Bangladesh (1990s) “acid attacks” Rejected suitors spray nitric acid in women’s faces, causing excruciating pain and severe disfigurement

15 Exaggerated sense of entitlement
Violent men often think that women owe them the acceptance of their advance, intimacy, and submission to their will On what is this sense of entitlement based? History of wife abuse provides some insight

16 2. Husbands and Wives In many cultures, men have traditionally claimed to beat their wives as a matter of authority, superiority, and control over property. Old Korean saying: “Dried fish and women: both are better after they are beaten”

17 Husbands & Wives continued …
Violence in marriage is linked historically to a legal definition of the family in which the wife is the property of the husband and the husband is the clear authority over her. Such legal tradition prevailed an ancient Greece and Rome, in Europe in the Middle Ages, and in Britain and North America until at least the last century. This tradition is still in effect in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

18 Husbands & Wives continued …
It has been, as in some place still is, acceptable for a man to “correct” his wife through physical aggression—as long as she is not hurt “too seriously” e.g., in Nigeria, a husband may not be charged with abuse if he does not leave a scar on his wife or if she does not require more than 21 days in the hospital In Mexico, if a woman heals within 15 days, the husband is often pardoned or lightly sentenced Even in places where the laws have changed over time, custom often continues to support these violent behaviours

19 Husbands & Wives continued …
If and when a woman leaves a violent situation, she risks further violence (risk of murder is highest when the victim tries to escape from an abusive relationship) This desperation can lead to women committing murder in order to save themselves and their children

20 Examples in Music Goodbye, Earl – The Dixie Chicks
Independence Day – Martina McBride

21 Husbands & Wives continued …
The abuse is not always confined to the home Many women receive threatening phone calls, are stalked and harassed Researchers estimate that ¼ to ½ of employed battered women have lost a job because of the violence/harassment Most workplaces do not have any policies in place for victims

22 Psychological & Emotional Abuse
Threats Insults Isolation Most women who are being hurt physically also suffer psychological and emotional abuse Women who have been abused are 12 times more likely (than other women) to commit suicide

23 Wife Murder: Money Marriage is often an economic arrangement (e.g., India) Men are often bribed (e.g., with dowries) to marry; parents often go in debt to marry off their daughters New brides are often pressured to get more money/goods from their parents; in-laws have doused new brides in kerosene and lit them on fire when they failed to acquire more goods (the deaths are reported as “kitchen accidents”) It is estimated that approximately 5000 women/year fall victim to dowry-related murders in India

24 Wife Murder: Honour Dishonouring one’s husband or father is often seen as a “legitimate” reason for murder Often related to the woman being unfaithful It is believed that these “honour killings” erase the shame brought to male members of a family (husband, father, brother) Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sudan

25 Wife Murder: Honour Sometimes premeditated (not just done in a rage); e.g., men of the family may gather to vote on the death of the woman and decide who will carry out the killing common themes: Women are considered property Men are believed to be entitled to wield authority and punish women The family is viewed as a private institution where the man rules and outsiders should not interfere Women are inferior to men

26 Implications Patriarchal attitudes spill over to affect not only violence against women in families, but also sanctioned societal violence against women who violate standards of approved behaviour e.g., prostitutes are at risk for violence because they are seen as “bad”, immoral, worthless, less than human Engaging in premarital sex or adultery can result in death

27 3. Violence in Lesbian Couples
Patriarchal attitudes are not the only underlying factor in violent relationships Researchers suggest that the prevalence of violence in lesbian and heterosexual couples is similar; reasons are also similar: issues of commitment to the relationship, jealously, autonomy or dependency, drug/alcohol abuse It is obvious, therefore, that much more research is needed to understand violence in relationships (since traditional ‘explanations’ tend to rely on blaming patriarchal attitudes)

28 4. Explaining Partner Abuse
Socio-political or cultural analysis: focuses on the ways that cultural beliefs, social structures, and political factors contribute to and support the occurrences of violence The atmosphere of patriarchal societies (i.e., where male domination/female subordination is approved of and rewarded) promotes violence against women The rigidity of gender roles and expectations: the narrower the role, the more likely it is that women will stray from it Stressors: e.g., poverty, social isolation, discrimination

29 Explaining Partner Abuse continued …
Interpersonal dynamics Social learning theory: individuals learn behavioural strategies that they feel are effective by watching other people; if an abuser successfully exerts control over the victim and/or gets what he/she wants, then violence as a strategy is reinforced and will likely increase in frequency Violence does not always work as a control mechanism in relationships because the target may fight back, leave, press charges, etc.; an abuser usually believes that the partner will put up with the violence, that it will work as a form of control, and that the abuser will suffer no disastrous consequences Social power perspective: the abuser must have a sense of possessing greater social power in the relationship than the partner does; e.g., the victim is emotionally or financially dependent and cannot leave; the victim is socially isolated and has nowhere else to go

30 Explaining Partner Abuse continued …
Individual personality and temperament Abusers are frequently identified as having particular characteristics such as feelings of powerlessness, fear of abandonment, dependency, and low self esteem In some cases, these characteristics are extreme enough to be labelled as borderline, narcissistic, or antisocial personality disorders

31 Sex-selective abortion, infanticide, and systematic neglect of girls
Sons carry on the family name/lineage Daughters are more burdensome: Can become pregnant Girls’ parents are (traditionally) expected to pay for wedding In some cultures, the tendency to value males over females is so strong that abortion and infanticide are used to ensure that families do not have to raise a daughter (e.g., China)

32 China & India: infanticide and abortion
In China, government policy prohibits more than one child per family; female fetuses are often aborted In India, sex-selective abortion is common and it is estimated that as many as 10,000 infant girls are killed each year by being abandoned, starved, or poisoned

33 Systematic Neglect of Girls
In many countries, girls are discriminated against in nutrition and access to medical care When parents have few resources, they spend them preferentially on boys Therefore, girls are more likely to suffer disability, illness, and death at a young age

34 Implications Female infanticide, sex-selective abortion, and systematic neglect of female children perpetuates the devaluation of female lives e.g., daughters are economic and social burdens and, therefore, liabilities These practices lead to the phenomenon known as the “missing millions” of women and girls (an estimated 60 million females are simply “missing” from population statistics worldwide); i.e., there are 60 million fewer females alive in the world than should be expected based on general demographic trends (this trend is observed primarily in South Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, and China)

35 Sexual Violence Rape Sexual abuse of children
Scope of rape Attitudes toward rape and rape victims Impact of rape Sexual abuse of children Forced prostitution and sex slavery

36 Sexual Violence 20 years ago, a survey of psychiatrists in the United States revealed that despite research showing that a victim’s attire to be insignificant in sex crimes, the vast majority of psychiatrists believe that sexy clothing worn by women was part of the reason that rapes occur; this attitude still persists in much of the general population Rape and other forms of sexual assault are not the result of sexual passion Rape, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment are more likely to be crimes of opportunity, planning, and sometimes even ritual and group-participatory aggression

37 1. Rape In much of the world rape is not taken particularly seriously and is, in certain cases, condoned and socially approved This particular form of violence has chilling consequences in terms of social and sexual relationships, as well as in terms of women’s physical and emotional health

38 The Scope of Rape Statistics are not regularly updated
Canada, 2000: sexual assault came in third for the highest number of violent crimes committed; of the 24,049 accounts of sexual assault recorded, 3,727 accounts occurred in BC U.S., 2000: 14-25% of women report being the victims of rape or attempted rape In all countries studied: The majority of rapists are known to their victims Many victims are aged 15 or younger

39 The Scope of Rape continued …
The notion of “stranger rape” is so powerful that many women who are raped by acquaintances, or people with whom they are intimate, do not label the incident as “rape” e.g., researchers frequently find that women will answer “yes” to the question: “have you ever had sex with a man when you did not want to because he used physical force against you”?; these women respond “no” when asked if they have ever been raped Why? 

40 Why? Ideas about rape and seduction often overlap Social “rules”
An element of rape is the use of manipulative tactics my a man to obtain sex; this is also identified as an element of seduction “passion” and “angry sex” Social “rules” Many people believe that it is okay for a man to assume that a woman wants to have sex if she Doesn’t resist physical Doesn’t say “no” Teases Has an “easy” repuatation

41 Why? continued … Studies with adolescents:
Force is often viewed as acceptable when the female has “led him on”, gotten him sexually excited, and when the couple have been dating for a long time “date rape” is considered less serious than “stranger rape” Part of the problem with assessing the prevalence of rape is that the definition of rape is not agreed upon

42 Definitions Traditional/narrow definition: non-consensual, forcible, sexual intercourse Omits penetration with objects, excludes anal and oral intercourse, non-forcible intercourse with underage and incapacitated victims Also ignores situations in which society condones the behaviour: normative rape (e.g., marital, ceremonial, rape of servants or slaves, rape of enemy women during wartime) Most researchers now agree that the key feature of rape is a lack of choice by the victim. A lack of choice is assumed when there is use of force, threat of force, or coercion; presence of multiple males, physical pain, loss of consciousness, threat of death/possibility of death, or when the woman is punished or suffers some other negative outcome if she refuses

43 Definitions continued …
Under these definitions, normative rape occurs in 97% of cultures that have been studied—i.e., most cultures have some rules/customs that allow rape to occur under certain conditions Non-normative rape: illicit, uncondoned contact that is both against the will of the woman and in violation of social norms for expected behaviour (occurs in 2/3 of societies)

44 Attitudes toward rape and rape victims
In many cultural contexts, women who transgress the boundaries of “proper” feminine behaviour are considered ‘deserving’ of rape e.g., the notion that a prostitute cannot be raped Rape myths: Women can prevent rape if they really want to Victims precipitate rape by their appearance and behaviour Women secretly want to be raped Rapists are motivated by uncontrollable sexual desire Individuals who agree with rape myths More likely to be prejudiced Lack empathy More accepting of interpersonal violence

45 The Impact of Rape A global health issue for women
Intrusive memories of the event, debilitating anxiety, and a compulsive need to avoid any reminder of the event are common Self-blame, guilt, low self esteem Depression, substance abuse, generalized anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post traumatic stress disorder Pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, pelvic pain, headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, sexual problems, premenstrual symptoms Excessive menstrual bleeding, genital pain, lack of sexual pleasure

46 The Impact of Rape continued …
Vulnerability to revictimization Women who are sexually assaulted are more likely than other women to report that they have been sexually assaulted before Rape victims are more likely than other women to have been sexually abused a children A person who has been victimized once may have poor self esteem and feel powerless, unworthy, and therefore, more vulnerable to victimization Sexually coercive men may target women who show any “weaknesses”

47 2. Sexual Abuse of Children
Prevalent worldwide 40-60% of sexual abuse of young children (within families) occurs against girls under 15 years of age (regardless of geography and culture) In North America, approximately 25% of women say that their first intercourse was not voluntary

48 Sexual Abuse of Children continued …
The effects of childhood sexual abuse are similar to, but more intense and harmful than, the effects of being sexually assaulted as an adult e.g., in Nigeria and Uganda, approximately 15% of female patients seeking treatment for STDs are under 5 years of age; 22% under 10 years of age Adults who were sexually abused as children are more likely to have psychiatric problems; strong implications for revictimization; greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse; more likely to enter prostitution FGM can be considered a form of child sexual abuse

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