Community Update

Digital Empowerment Toolkit Now Available!

At World Pulse, we recognize the need for ongoing learning—for you and for your community! Our toolkits aim to provide the resources you need to advance your social change work.

We are excited to introduce our Digital Empowerment Trainers’ Toolkit, a dynamic resource to help you bring the benefits of connecting online to women in your community. Check it out today! »

Developing Countries Need To Identify The Gaps In Anti-Domestic Violence Initiatives

Tough law enforcement, aggressive prosecution, effective prevention programs and available shelter for families in distress, are some of the remedies often recommended to help victims of domestic violence. The application of these remedial measures is, however, problematic in societies where there are inadequate resources to manage gender based violence. The fact that a large number of women in developing countries are subject to customary law which reinforces the subordination of women, exacerbates the problem. The chips are clearly stacked against women particularly those in abusive relationships.

unequal distribution of marital property amongst women who divorce both in urban and rural settings is widespread. It is for this reason that women weigh the risks of taking a stand against abusive partners. Consequently, they are locked in a cycle of violence and this reinforces the belief that women, regardless of their social status accept abuse as part of life. Discriminatory attitudes remain rife in cases where customary law is strictly applied. This has, to a large extent, served to obscure the realities of gender discrimination. There is a need for more clarity in the law regarding the property rights of women who in a substantial number of cases, live with the fear of being left destitute after a divorce.

The law of course, can only go so far in preventing cases of domestic violence. A change in attitudes is crucial in an inherently partriarchal society. There is no doubt that the women’s movement in developing countries, deserves some credit for sharpening its edge over the years through public awareness campaigns but more needs to be done to include men and young boys in these movements. The idea that the fight for the rights of women should generally be left to women has to a certain extent, resulted in an “us against them” approach which will only leads to further alienation of women in a world that is dominated by and skewed towards men.

While the inclusion of men in the feminist movement may sound scandalous and contrary to what most people understand about feminism, higher impact change will only be possible if we all come to the realisation that “feminism is a title to a process and that process is equality”. This can be done with the understanding that male involvement in the feminist movement is not aimed at appropriating and hijacking the agenda but nurturing boys and young men who will grow to have positive attitudes that encourage the creation of a society that recognises equality between the sexes.
The escalation of gender based violence in parts of Africa, is a cumulative effect of inequalities that affect both women and men which remain unresolved. The inability of some male members of society to participate in social or economic productivity through meaningful employment, often leaves them feeling emasculated. The impoverishment that follows entails misery and in its consequence, violence is unleashed on those who are vulnerable. Women’s bodies become some kind of battle ground for those who feel society has failed them.

While domestic violence is not a crime that is exclusive to people from deprived backgrounds, it is impossible to ignore the fact that such a high proportion of violence against women is committed by men from a low social class. Forming alliances with men within the feminist movement, will allow men to revisit their conceptualisation of masculinity and fight the scourge of gender based violence.

There are numerous good examples of pro-feminist movements which involved men that emerged in the US, the UK and Australia in the late 1960s and early 70s that grow out of the frustration with traditional notions of masculinity. That does not mean the battle for equality has been won in these countries but progress has been made. Developing countries are capable of coming up with solutions tailored for their societies which will lead to equality of a universal nature. There is a need to identify the gaps in anti-violence initiatives. Working with men is an essential step that will help promote new concepts of masculinity and mobilize men and boys to engage in anti-violence activities.

Even though this sounds like the stuff of utopian dreams, it is cogent to argue that a more inclusive approach, will allow pro feminist males who support bridging the gap of equality between sexes, to stand as allies with women to dismantle the patriarchal notions that facilitate the subjugation of our grandmothers, mothers, sisters, daughters and many other women in society.

Comments

Cali gal Michelle's picture

Kabukabu Ikwueme- Amazing

Kabukabu Ikwueme-

Amazing expression of thought and action here in this article. Identifying gaps is undeniably one of the initial hurdles we must overcome. Identifying effective goals and actions steps is the crucial next step, which is often where people become encumbered for so many reasons. It is a passion of mine to help people identify needs and achievable action steps. But taking action at the community and global levels is needed for effective change, and that is where I myself become encumbered when dealing with violence, etc. I would love to hear your response for 'what is your one thing?' post if you have time. http://worldpulse.com/node/84722

Many blessings to you.

Let us Hope together-
Michelle
aka: Cali gal

Listener
Sister-Mentor
@CaliGalMichelle
facebook.com/caligalmichelle

Thank you Cali. This article was written some time ago and I have seen significant changes in many movements I have been involved in. There is however, more that needs to be done. Our work as activists is on going. The struggle continues

Cali gal Michelle's picture

We would love to hear the

We would love to hear the changes you've seen!

Let us Hope together-
Michelle
aka: Cali gal

Listener
Sister-Mentor
@CaliGalMichelle
facebook.com/caligalmichelle

Contrary to what we hear in the western press, it's not all doom and gloom. There are changes in the sense that in some African countries, governments are making an effort to implement laws that protect women. There are now laws to protect women and institutions such as women's banks being set up to empower women economically. This does not mean it's all well and good, there is still a mammoth task to be accomplished to help left many out of poverty through education and enable them have access to good health care.

Countries like Zambia have introduced a number of legal and policy reforms to promote women's rights and reduce poverty of women and children. More women particularly in Zambia where I have first hand experience are able to speak out and challenge their government to improve the welfare of women and vulnerable groups.

However, the law is not enough, as mentioned earlier there is still a battle to change attitudes and also improve law enforcement particularly in rural areas where communities are isolated.

Yes, no matter how many laws are changed or written, it all begins within ourselves. We can not change others, but we can be the example. As more and more attitudes and actions are changed, the more momentum is gathered, leading to global movements that can not be ignored.

As we continue to Hope,

Let us Hope together-
Michelle
aka: Cali gal

Listener
Sister-Mentor
@CaliGalMichelle
facebook.com/caligalmichelle

Magazine »

Read global coverage through women's eyes

Inside Congo's Growing Sisterhood

Inside Congo's Growing Sisterhood

Community »

Connect with women on the ground worldwide

PAKISTAN: They Went to School and Never Came Back

PAKISTAN: They Went to School and Never Came Back

Campaigns »

Be heard at influential forums

WWW: Women Weave the Web

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Programs »

Help us train women citizen journalists

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

Blog »

Read the latest from World Pulse headquarters

Announcing Our Prize Winners!

Announcing Our Prize Winners!

Partners »

Join forces with our wide network of partners

Nobel Women's Initiative

Nobel Women's Initiative