VIOLENCE aimed at one due to one’s sex, is known as gender-based violence (GBV), and it can take many forms – violence isn’t always physical. Violence can also be psychological, emotional and verbal. When we speak of gender-based violence, we address the aggression inflicted on women by men. Although on rare occasions, the violence can be enacted on men by women and on women by women and men by men, it is primarily women who get injured for life by an ex-boyfriend or spurned lover; and women who get regularly murdered at the hands of men.
Another example of gender-based violence is when men fall into economic poverty and take it out on their wives. Unable to make ends meet and scraping by on a meagre allowance cause anxiety and depression for both adults. Women who feel endangered when their male partners have had too much to drink or when something goes wrong in their life are prone to become victims of gender-based violence. Mothers living in despair can negatively affect their children without knowing, creating a discontented household.
In some communities violence against women, such as a husband beating his wife, is seen as a private or domestic affair – which is of little or no concern to neighbours or passers-by. But no man has a right to beat his sister, mother, girlfriend, wife or daughter. Some women are led to believe that they ‘asked for it’ or they ‘made’ the person’ knock’ them. Therefore, the fault lies with the victim. However, it is never the victim’s fault. The leading cause of physical violence lies with the perpetrator. The way he thinks; his views on women and girls in relation to himself; and the environment in which he was raised.
Parents raise their boys to be tough and their girls to be delicate and soft. Only girls are meant to cry. How often have you heard the phrase ‘boys don’t cry? Boys are meant to be strong and never show their true feelings. But boys do cry, and they should learn to come to terms and deal with how they feel during development. Everyone has feelings they need to express and not keep bottled up inside. Boys and girls should have the chance to speak about and examine how they feel to begin to understand how intense feelings can be, and yet they subside in time. Most of all, young people must learn how to control their state of mind and not become engrossed by them or take out their negative mindset on others.
Many families have unspoken traditions where girls and women are mistreated and physically abused. Nothing much is expected from female family members except for having children and housekeeping. Their fathers may slap or beat their mothers, and the young people who witnessed the beatings will do and accept the same in their adult lifestyles.
This dysfunction stems from a patrilineal system, an acceptable social norm in some households. When an unfortunate crime comes to light through a disfigurement or fatality, neighbours and family members are always on hand to say how the victim suffered years of abuse at the perpetrator’s hand. By then, of course, it is too late.
Some men harbour views that validate violence against women to some extent, with notions that violence gives them dominance over their female partners and proves that men are superior to the weaker sex. One young mother recalls, ‘My older brother was in the room next door when my partner started to cuff me in my head, I screamed loud enough for him to know what was happening to me, but he never came to my rescue. Over the years, I realised and later learnt that he displayed the same behaviour towards his wife and eldest daughter on occasions. He lashed out at them with cuffs and violence. Relationships need love, understanding and ‘two minds in sync’ to flourish amicably?
There are cultures known for keeping women suppressed and treated like second-class citizens, with a lack of education and early marriages sometimes arranged from 9-year-olds. This process may be acceptable in societies where men believe they are entitled to women and believe they own the same. But this is not a custom practised in Guyana, and everyone knows that women are not property to be bought, sold or owned by anyone. Women and girls should be treated with respect by boys and men. They should be given opportunities to live their lives free from all types of abuse or fear of the same. Women and girls deserve the right to achieve their goals, aspirations and ambitions the same as boys and men.
To curb the onslaught of domestic violence in our society, we must address the way we raise our children and the social norms we teach about morals and self-awareness. It is alright to feel angry, sad, frustrated, worried, betrayed, frightened etc. Things arise in life that test our faith, resilience, and sanity. Teach children to recognise and examine their feelings and give them an undivided listening ear to talk about them if they choose.
A hotline for victims of domestic abuse is operational 24/7. Members of the public who feel threatened or vulnerable can call 914 for advice and assistance.
If you are concerned about the welfare of a child, call the CPA hotline on 227 0979 or write to us at email@example.com
A MESSAGE FROM THE CHILDCARE AND PROTECTION AGENCY,
MINISTRY OF HUMAN SERVICES AND SOCIAL SECURITY