Domestic violence against women is a problem throughout the world. In many countries, however, spousal abuse is not only legal, but viewed as acceptable by a sizable segment of female members of the population.
Acceptance of Domestic Violence
Democratic Republic of the Congo
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo almost three fourths of women believe that wife beating is justified in certain circumstances. This central African country which is home to over 81 million citizens is considered to be the most populous French-speaking nation in the world. Throughout its existence this region has been plagued by corruption, political unrest, violence, and exploitation. Living conditions for women in the DR Congo are particularly dire. In 2010 the eastern portion of the country was dubbed as the rape capital of the world by an official from the United Nations. Social and economic factors such as wide spread poverty and long standing beliefs surrounding gender play major roles in the acceptance of violence against women. Females in the DR Congo not only lack basic human rights but according to the country’s Family Code are under the guardianship of their husbands and are even denied the ability to sign legal documents without permission from their spouse.
The living conditions for women living in the west African country of Senegal are strongly influenced by long standing religious beliefs, customs, and traditions. Most of the population follow the tenets of the Islamic faith with a large portion identifying as Sunni Muslims. Violence against women in Senegal include practices such as genital mutilation, rape, incest, and domestic abuse.
Social and cultural beliefs contribute to an environment where practices like wife beating are perceived to be acceptable according to a significant portion of the population in Cambodia. Home to over 15 million residents the Southeast Asian nation has earned a reputation for its high rates of poverty, systemic corruption, repressive government, and poor living conditions. Conservative traditions dictate that women should be soft spoken family caretakers who must do their best to properly represent their husband in general society. This well mannered stereotype is so ingrained in Cambodian culture that aside from suffering violence at the hands of their husbands for so called “shameful behavior” wives have been known to take their own lives rather than face the social consequences of their actions.
Zambia is another example of an African country rife with gender inequality. Zambian women suffer from a lack of rights and freedoms including the inability to own or inherit land. Other factors effecting the female population include forced marriages, marriage at a young age, high maternal death rates during childbirth, poor education for girls, and an increased vulnerability to diseases such as HIV.
Unfortunately Egypt is also one of a number of countries in the world where acts of domestic violence haven't been outlawed. Rather than being a criminal issue Egyptians consider spousal abuse to be a family matter. Located in the Middle East this nation boasts of housing a population of over 91 million residents and as a predominately Muslim country religion plays a significant role in the lives of its citizens. Due to a wide array of long-held conservative Arab cultural beliefs women in Egypt face a variety of challenges and restrictions in terms of basic freedoms and human rights.
While it’s evident that progress has been made in terms of women’s rights and gender equality there is still much work to be done. Many countries in the world, particularly in Africa, lag behind the so called developed world in regards to issues such as domestic violence. Factors such as poverty, poor education, conservative religious beliefs, as well as deeply entrenched cultural traditions, all serve as obstacles in the struggle to ensure that women around the world have basic human rights and legal protection from domestic abuse.