Violence is the act of engaging in activities that are likely to harm human beings. Violence against women is presently known as femicide. It is an act that harms women psychologically, socially and even physically (Gender and Development Network, n.d.). Violence has existed from time immemorial. It existed in the bible times of Cain and Abel where Cain killed Abel out of jealousy. It existed in the early age according to studies done revealing bodies of people strewn. There were skeletons lying close to each other on the ground. Today, violence is almost like a norm in our society. There are countless acts of violence against children, women, and communities. Examples of violence acts in our present day include the Rwandese genocide in 1994 that occurred in Rwanda, Africa. Another act of violence was the annihilation of the millions of Jews by Adolf Hitler’s violent acts. His intention was to eliminate the Jewish community from the face of the earth. What about the terrorist acts such as the September 9/11 attacks on the USA, New York City targeting the World Trade Centre? 2,996 people died as a result of the attack and more than 6000 people were injured! Even more recent is the terrorist attack on Paris, France. Violence is therefore a reality that people live with today.
Case Study: The murder of Maria and Sofia Alvarado in Honduras
Honduras is a country that is known for its high number of violent acts. The violent acts are targeted on women. Statistics show that per 100,000 inhabitants of Honduras, 91 will be dying by means of violent attacks. This is an alarmingly high rate of violence. It is in this context that the Alvarado sisters are murdered. To begin with, they disappeared for six days then were later found dead. Later, the public of Honduras and the international world is made to believe the murderer was one of the sisters’ boyfriends. Honduras experiences one murder of a woman in every fourteen hours. Therefore, the sisters’ death was not the first; neither was it last (Telesur News, 2014).
In this paper, the causes of violence and the responsibility of governments towards violence will be studied. Furthermore, the challenges experienced by governments in implementation of policies against violence and solutions to these issues will also be researched. The paper will be based on the General Aggression model as researched by Dewall, Anderson, and Bushman. This theory is based on the evolution theory stating that human beings share some characteristics with animals. This character which has been inherited by men from animals is called aggression. It has been noted that in most cases, violence is propagated by aggression in mankind. In as much as it has been noted that over time the aggression fades, some of it sticks with human beings. (Dewall, Anderson, & Bushman, 2011).This calls for action to be taken to get rid of it completely. Otherwise aggression becomes the motivator of many acts of violence. The case being analyzed here is one that is familiar to most societies today. Two women kidnapped and then brutally killed by their kidnappers. Amazingly, one of them was a beauty pageant who was meant to represent the Country in Miss World. The perpetrators would have at least had respect for her national contribution and spared her and the sister.
Actions of violence are usually as a result of situational factors such as alcohol. Once someone is under the influence of drugs, their level of judgment is compromised. This may lead to enhancing violence against women among other wrongful acts. In addition to this, mental exhaustion, positive attitude towards violence and insensitivity to women all influence actions of violence (Panther, 2007). It should also be noted that people whose environments are full of violence also tend to ultimately get involved in violence. For them violence is a normal occurrence and they can comfortably live with it. Under normal circumstances, it is expected that everyone abhors violence. However, there are individuals who get excited at the thought of such incidences. So that in the aforementioned case, in as much as the government reported the deaths were caused by a love triangle, the person who murdered the girls would have been someone who just loves seeing women die (Feminist Organizations, 2014).
This case of the Alvarado sisters is just one of the thousands of cases of femicide in Honduras. In fact, most women are now migrating from the country to refuge in refugee camps or start life anew. This is due to the high levels insecurity, exploitation, and lack of opportunities for them and disappearances of women in the nation. The government of Honduras should begin seeing women as assets to its nation. They shouldn’t be reluctant and slow in creating an environment that accommodates all of their citizens including girls and women (Feminist Organizations, 2014).
The ways in which violence against women are executed
Violence against women takes various forms including but not limited to intimate partner violence, mortality during births, deaths caused by human trafficking, honor related killings, gender based deaths, sorcery, clandestine abortions, government’s deliberate omissions, dowry related killings and organized crime. Intimate partner violence refers to the killings which are orchestrated by the people that woman have romantic relationships with. They could be married to them or just in an affair with them. In most countries, this form of violence is prevalent. In fact in Hondura, 60% of women who are murdered are victims of intimate partner violence. Even in the US, many women have been murdered by their spouses or boyfriends as a result of differences between them. Apart from such deaths, other women die during birth or as a result of unsuccessful abortions. These cases are usually blamed on issues like lack of proper health care systems and inaccessibility of these facilities. Women are forced to give birth at home even when the pregnancy has complications. Some women are not even allowed by their husbands to go to hospital. The husbands say it is against their culture. However such negative culture does more harm than good. This is just a defense that men use to subordinate their wives. Some of the abortions that kill women are usually. This occurs when a girl is pregnant and the family does not want to go through the ‘shame’ brought by their daughter. They force her to abort the child in protection of the family name. Parents care about their prestige in the community brought by a good name, rather than care for their own children.
Another form of violence is due to the act of human trafficking. Human trafficking is a practice where people are sold as slaves to others. In most cases one goes through isolation and a lot of torture including starvation and sometimes beatings. Most women are often sold today as a result of such practices. Honor related killings occur when a girl loses her virginity before marriage. To retain the honor of the family, she is killed.
The other form of violence is the killings based on gender. Some examples of these acts would be assassination of women who thrive in the society. It could be success in the political, social, or economical arena. Such a woman is seen as a threat to men and so they are eliminated by murder. This leads to the other form of violence which is known as organized crime. Some deaths of women are usually articulately organized and performed such that no one ever really knows what happened to women killed in such a manner. An example of violence against women which was finely planned was the murder of Najia Sediqi in Afghanistan. It was reported that she had been shot dead on a Monday morning. Witnesses said the shooters were in car which took off speedily after the shooting. No one pleaded guilty of the crime; yet this was a prominent woman in Afghanistan. She advocated for women rights in her nation. Apart from organized crime, circumcision of women is also another form of violence on girls and women (Claire Laurent, n.d.).
Responsibility of Governments towards femicide
According to International humanitarian organizations, the government has the major responsibility over violent cases. They are expected to review and then abolish every form of law – cultural or otherwise – which pose a threat to the peaceful existence of women. They should not be seen to be supporting femicide in any way. States should make it clear to their citizens that violence against women is abominable and should not be tolerated in their nations. Every act of violence should be taken seriously. Such matters should be taken to court and allowed to follow the judicial processes. Heavy punishments should be inflicted on individuals who are found guilty (Human Rights Council, 2012).
Challenges faced by governments
In curbing violence against women, governments face various challenges primarily caused by economic insufficiencies. Most of these countries that experience lots of violence are developing countries. This means that even the security personnel are not enough to maintain safety in the country. They experience shortage of security officers, vehicles, and even fuel to run the vehicles. This makes occurrences go unnoticed and the government is at a loss on what actions to take. Furthermore, the other challenge is that there are no enforcements concerning the cases that get to court. Perpetrators are usually released without a penalty (Radford & Diana, n.d.).
There are also the instances of negative beliefs and cultures. Traditionists are usually difficult to deal with and the only options left are to let them be. The government risks having hostility and uprising building up in the nation if they don’t interfere with the beliefs of its people. Rather than have such scenarios governments resorts to be democratic as it should be for the people. In the fight against femicide, faith organizations also have a role to play. They are able to use their authority as spiritual leaders to condemn the violence against women. In most cases they are in a better position to deal with the attitudes of the people. Their position makes them be listened to and not taken for granted. Hence the faith organizations should also rise up to the occasion and stop femicide by all means(The Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS)., 2013).
Solutions to the problem of violence against women
The first solution is for governments to develop and implement strong legislations. Secondly, men and boys should be sensitized on the need to live peacefully with women. They should stop seeing women as rivals but rather accept them as partners in business, education, work, and family life. Men’s eyes should be opened to see the important roles that women play in the society(Cavanaugh, 2012). In addition they should be made to wake up to the fact that women add value to their lives. In case some men have deficiencies like extreme aggression and lack of control of their anger and emotions, counseling should be undertaken.
Women and girls should also be educated on their roles in their society. They should be told that they are valuable and have equal opportunities in business, politics, career and education as men(Koutsoyannis, 2011). They should be encouraged to take their position in the society. The first action towards this should be through acquiring formal education. Governments should even come up with education funds for women who desire to take on their studies. This is because they may not be able to afford to pay for their education. Yet a formal education for women would be quite a boost for their esteem and confidence in the world of careers. Women who are well educated become great leaders in the society. They are well involved in solving problems in their states. The passion with which women accomplish whatever they put their mind on is incredible.
Gender sensitivity is also needful in societies that experience high gender based violence. Sensitivity should be carried out to make each gmender aware of their differences in life. It should be understood that the purpose of the different roles is for complementary purposes and not competition. Every gender should be made to appreciate that each of them have unique roles to carry out in their countries. Furthermore, another important solution towards violence is support for the violence victims(The Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA, n.d.). This can be emotional, financial, and legal and socials support. Every human being has an affinity for love. The victims should be loved and appreciated in their state of deposition. They should be made to feel valuable and cared for. Homes should be made to accommodate those who no longer want to live in their previous abodes. It has been realized that there are some victims who are assaulted by their own immediate relations. However since they have no other place to go they endure living with them. Such women feel more and more insecure day by day. Legal support should also be given to such victims. This would be by ensuring they get the right audience. An environment of confidentiality and privacy should be created to enable them to open up and discuss their predicament to the right persons. The need for counseling should not be overlooked. Health support is also important as some of them need medical attention.
Advocating for women’s rights would also be a great solution for governments. They should encourage the participation of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) who are interested in looking into the cause of women. Those NGOs that intend to get involved in women empowerment need to seize the available opportunities and make a difference in our states. Such organizations would improve the welfare of women in totality. They provide funds for formal education, but also ensure that the women are provided with good housing facilities. In addition, they are economically empowered through learning some income generating skills. They are also taught the practice of saving. The organizations would undoubtedly have a great impact on the fight against femicide.
The government of Honduras needs to be proactive in preventing the deaths of innocent girls and women like the case of Maria and Sofia Alvarado. Who knows what the future had for these two had their lives not been taken from them. Apart from violence against women which has been widely discussed herein, all the other forms of violence are also evil. They should be highly discouraged. Some forms of violence target even children. They include rape, murder, kidnaps, and even child trafficking. It is a responsibility of everyone to desist from any form of violence.
Other forms of violence include intertribal wars whereby communities fight against each other. Such wars arise due to lack of peaceful co-existence between them. This would be due to land issues and differences in community beliefs. It is hard to believe that one tribe, group, or community should feel superior to the other. Apart from the geographical and complexion differences, no other differences exist in men. Humanity is about character and what people stand for both as individuals and as communities and by extension as nations. This is what people’s attitude should be towards each other. Such an attitude enables them to treat each other with respect and dignity as fellow human beings.
Violence should not be heard of anywhere in the world. In the context of the two Alvarado sisters, violence against women needs to stop. Women are anchors of our society; they give birth to children, raise them up, and work hard to provide for them. They are home makers who bring warmth and love to the family. Most women can die for their families since they literally invest their lives in them. The least that women can do is be supportive to them in all manner of ways which they can. They need not be supported to die, but to live fulfilling lives. In addition to this, women are great leaders. This can be used as an asset to the advancement of a country and in decision making. It has been proven that in making decisions, women look more into the future rather than just the present. This enables women to help in decision making so that decisions are made based on the bigger picture, not the present only. Therefore human mind sets should be transformed to encourage non-violent acts. Those who get involved in violent acts due to being idle can be sensitized to take up income generating activities like starting small businesses that grow over time and volunteer work. Organizations and individuals should take up the role of creating awareness on the benefits of peaceful coexistence. But of even greater importance is the realization that all people responsible have a moral responsibility to each other. This responsibility is to preach harmony with all their might.
Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS). (2013). Femicide: A Global Issue that Demands Action. (C. Laurent, M. Platzer, & Maria Idomir, Eds.) (2nd ed., pp. 1–156). vienna: Academic Council on the United Nations System.
Cavanaugh, S. (2012). From survivors to defenders : (pp. 1–48). Green Communication Design Inc.
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Gender and Development Network. (n.d.). Violence against women and girls: Your questions and our answers.
Koutsoyannis, S. (2011). Background paper Femicide in Ciudad Juárez : Ever-Present and Worsening, 1–24.
Laurent, C. (n.d.). The Killing of Women and Girls Around the World, 1–7.
Panther, N. (2007). VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND FEMICIDE IN MEXICO : THE CASE OF CIUDAD JUAREZ. Oklahoma State University.
Radford, J., & Diana, E. H. R. (n.d.). Femicide: The Politics of Woman Killing. New York, NY: Twayne Publishers.
Telesur News. (2014, November). There is no safe place for women in Honduras. Honduras. Retrieved from http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/There-Is-No-Safe-Place-for-Women-in-Honduras-20141120-0001.html
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