BLOG FOUR: QUESTIONING VIOLENCE: WHAT HAPPENS IN THE HOME IS POLITICAL

This is the fourth post in a five part blog series, "Peacebuilding: A Way to End Violence Against Women in El Salvador".

In El Salvador, the law puts the woman in the private sphere of her home; that is her work, that is her home. The hope of every woman to have her own home and family led to the tragic discovery that marriage is ‘no happy ending’ for many Salvadoran women. “Once she gets married, her new home becomes a prison from which she can’t escape. In fact, it’s the only place where she is allowed to work.”[1]

Violence against women takes a number of forms, including rape, wife battering, sexual harassment. These violence are abuses that women, rather than men, tend to suffer. Women are victimized in these ways at least partially because they are women. All of these types of violence are abuses that women, rather than men, tend to suffer. Women are victimized in these ways at least partially because they are women.[2]

Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza said: “Violence against women and their children remains all-pervasive. It is not limited to one specific class, geography, or type of person. It cuts across social differences. It can take many forms and the list of abuse is endless.”[3]

In El Salvador, violence against women had been a part of their long and hard life suffering. Statistics from the Salvadoran Institute for the Development of Women show a growing trend of reported domestic violence cases over the past few years. Incidents of domestic violence and rape continued to be underreported.[4]

In using a systemic analysis to understand helps. Fiorenza further explained, “Verbal, emotional, political, physical, or sexual violence against women must not be reduced either to abstract statistics or to episodic evidence and isolated incidents. Rather, such violence must be understood in systemic terms and placed on a continuum of elite male power and control over women and children that encompasses not only incidents of physical violence but also dehumanizing impoverishment.”[5] Part of the pathway to comprehending and healing is endeavouring a deep reflection of what after all is the value and belief system ingrained in the woman. A battered woman’s experience must lead to resistance and change by exploring the contradictions between the lived existence of the survivor and the theological meaning that runs contrary to that Christian woman’s belief, and reinforce the belief in a Creator who is with us in all our struggles to end violence and to foster security and dignity.

Understanding how a community responds, or fails to respond, to violence against women is a crucial part of any individual or group initiative, policy imperative or legal statute that aim to reduce or eliminate violence in a positive, and effective manner. The social reactions to violence are affected not only by individual subjectivity, but also by dominant cultural and social norms that shape normative behavior.

In reality, what is happening today is worse, J.M. Cruz, et al. said, “Because before if you did not get involved in politics, you did not get killed; now it is different: you could be at home and you could be killed there.”[6] Mo Hume in alignment with Cruz stated, “Violence has certainly evolved in the recent years and the promise of the new institutions has not been realized. The peace process and its expected dividends appear to have eluded them, and although the actors may have changed, insecurity and fear are still a routine element of daily life.”[7]

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[1] Kathleen Hayes, Women on the Threshold - Voices of Salvadoran Baptist Women (Georgia: Smyth & Helwys Publishing Inc, 1996), 27.

[2] S. Laurel Weldon. “Violence against Women” ed. Joyce Gelb and Marian Lief Palley. Women and Politics around the World: A Comparative History and Survey.

[3] Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, “Ties That Bind - Domestic Violence Against Women,” in Women Resisting Violence - Spirituality for Life, ed. Mary John Mananzan et al. (NY: Orbis Books, 1996), 39.

[4] Women and human rights: Country reports on human rights practices for 1998; El Salvador. 1999. WIN News. http://search.proquest.com/docview/230973880?accountid=14771 (accessed May 26, 2013).

[5] Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, “Ties That Bind - Domestic Violence Against Women,” in Women Resisting Violence - Spirituality for Life, ed. Mary John Mananzan et al. (NY: Orbis Books, 1996), 39.

[6] J.M. Cruz, Arguello Trigueros and F. Gonzalez, El Crimen Violento in El Salvador. Factores Sociales y Economicos Asociados. IUDOP/UCA: San Salvador, 1999.

[7] Mo Hume, The Politics of Violence - Gender, Conflict and Community in El Salvador. (Oxford: Society for Latin American Studies, 2009), 13.

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