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Violence against women > Why does Violence occur

Why does violence against women persist

Systematised Violence: Placing VAW in the framework of Patriarchy

Violence against women does not comprise of random crimes committed on unfortunate victims who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Its magnitude and worldwide prevalence, across decades points to one important factor - that there is a system that promotes and condones violence against women. This system, otherwise known as patriarchy; prevails across cultures in various manifestations. But to understand Patriarchy, we must first know how gender functions to support a patriarchal society by defining roles and delegating power.

The terms 'Gender' and 'Sex' are often considered synonymous. However, while 'Sex' denotes the biological differences between men and women, 'Gender' is a social construct which defines certain characteristics and roles as 'masculine' or 'feminine'. We are all socialized by gender to some extent. In our life time, we have all heard and been told statements like 'men are strong, women are weak', 'men are harsh, women are soft', 'women are better cooks than men', 'men are better at business than women', 'boys like to climb trees, girls like to play with dolls'. By engraining such divisions of characteristics into us, society automatically delegates certain roles to men and women. Because men are better at negotiating, they must go out and earn, while women who are better at child rearing must stay home and keep house. This is done systematically through patriarchy. Patriarchal systems operate in various avenues of our lives. In the family, in our education system, in the work place, and even in government. In all of these places, women are restricted from accessing resources because of the roles bestowed upon them, hence creating an imbalance in power between men and women.

Power over others

Violence occurs when a particular group or person in society is discriminated against - especially minorities. By minorities, one means all those who do not get their fair place in society and live on its margins. Such minorities could be religious groups, tribal groups, dalits, the poor, and women - especially single, deserted, widowed or divorced women, homosexual men and lesbian women, people whose belief systems or political convictions are different from the majority, and so on. This means that a large section of society has to put up with violence. A game of divide and rule is used to justify violence by labelling people who are different as abnormal. One should not fall into the trap of allowing someone's rights to be violated just because s/he is different from the dominant group. Some day one will become a victim oneself if such violence is allowed to continue. Violence occurs when a person or a party within a relationship is vulnerable or dependent on the other - children, women, elderly people, people physically or mentally challenged, a junior at work, younger siblings, and so on.

 Let's learn more about what all these terms means....

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