ViolentSocieties, Violent Lives
Violenceis the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened oractual, against oneself, another person or a group or community, thateither results in or has a high likelihood of resulting inpsychological harm, injury, mal-development, deprivation or evendeath (Browne, 2012). Acts of aggression or negligence leads tophysical or psychological damage of the victims. Violence can becategorized in many ways like: Type of violent acts, for examplesexual abuse or verbal abuse participating factors, for example waror robbery contributing factors for example, drugs, poverty,culture impact of violence, could be death or disability, economic,mental illness and those affected by violence like children, women,community etc.
Howeverit is imperative to note that, violence can have an impact on healthand social care of a group or individuals. Acts of war, neglect,street crime, abuse of defenseless groups like children and theelderly, interpersonal violence and collective violence are types ofviolence with public health impacts. This paper discusses the genderbased violence specifically violence against women as an area ofviolence that has an impact on the health and the social care of thevictims.
Violenceagainst Women in a Health and Social Care Context
Violenceagainst women can be physical, sexual, psychological, and threat ofphysical or sexual violence (Browne, 2012). Violence against womenraises social and health concern as it not only causes damage to thelives of the women victims but also the lives of thousands ofchildren. Child witnesses of violence against women are likely tohave emotional and behavioral problems (Look, Heggenhougen, &Quah, 2011). This is a negative consequence in the social carecontext. Such children are likely to demonstrate poor performance atschool and are likely to perpetrate violence or be the victims ofviolence in the future since they are exposed to the same when young.Violence against women also has negative consequences on businessessince the absence of the victims at places of work due to negativehealth consequences that inhibits the victims from working, leads tolow productivity. Violence against women and girls adversely affectshuman, social, and economic development (Browne, 2012). Basically itis a factor that would greatly hinder achievement of social andeconomic goals.
Also,violence has physical and mental health consequences. There areimmense negative health repercussions suffered by women exposed tophysical, sexual or psychological abuse (Look, Heggenhougen, &Quah, 2011). Therefore, most women at some point in time during theabuse contact health services. The health care system is often theroute through which victims seek to access support (Look,Heggenhougen, & Quah, 2011). As a result, the health providersnot only address the immediate health concerns of the victims, butalso provide information and referral to other support organizationthat are relevant. Studies conducted worldwide show that abused womenhas significantly worse physical and mental health than non abusedwomen (Browne, 2012).
Thehealth consequences of the violence can be immediate and acute, longlasting and chronic, and or fatal (Look, Heggenhougen, & Quah,2011). The probability is that, the more severe the violence, thegreater the impact on the woman’s mental and or physical health. Itis also possible that the negative health consequences can continueeven after the abusive violence stops. Common health consequences ofviolence against women include: Physical injuries some of which maylead to disabilities, gastrointestinal conditions, death, depression,stress, low self-esteem, sexually transmitted diseases, unwantedpregnancies, abortion, pregnancy complications, and also behavioralconsequences like alcohol and drug abuse, multiple sexual partners,and unprotected sex all of which puts their health status at risk.
TheoreticalBasis in Understanding Violence against Women
Violenceagainst women can be clearly understood from the many theories thatgenerally address the issue of violence. Most of the theoriesacknowledge the abuse of power and control by the abusers. Therefore,the victims usually suffer in the hands of those who are morepowerful than themselves. Violence against women can therefore bewell understood in relation to the concept of gender. Gender, as ahistorical and social cultural construct, assigns roles and behaviorsto the sexes (Dekeseredy, & Schwartz, 2013). This is wherepassivity, fragility, emotion and submission define women, where asstrength, domination, activity, and reason defines men. The genderdimension, which is structured as power relationship between malesand females, therefore result to discrimination and hence easily leadto abuse of the so regarded less powerful gender, the females.
Sociallearning theory, the ecological model, and the social etiologicalmodel are some of the theories that are useful in understandingviolence against women.
Thesocial learning theory maintains that individuals learn socialbehaviors by observing and imitating other people (Dekeseredy, &Schwartz, 2013). This means that individuals learn how to behavethrough both experience and exposure to violence. When young childrenare exposed to violence against women as witnesses or as victims,there is a probability that they will engage in violence mainlybecause they are socialized into it when young and the fact thatimitation is an important element through which children learn(Dekeseredy, & Schwartz, 2013).
Whena child is exposed to a social context with violence against women,the learning process to imitate the same behavior can be identifiedin development of language, aggression, and moral decision making.The social learning theory posits that individuals become aggressivetowards family members because their aggressive behaviors are learntthrough operant conditioning and observing behavior in the rolemodels (Dekeseredy, & Schwartz, 2013). This translate that, thereis a great possibility of intergenerational transmission of violence.
Thisis especially when the young ones are exposed to violence againstwomen. The possibility is that if a young male child is exposed in anabusive environment that practices violent against women, they willacquire behavior and attitudes that views women negatively and henceengage in violence against women. For a female child raised in anenvironment that abuses women, she may either develop self defensemechanism which would obviously involve violence and or, lead toacceptance that as a woman it is normal to sufferer in the hands ofthe male gender. Children who grow up in violent and abusive familiesmay learn violent and abusive behaviors, imitate those behaviors, andthen repeat those behaviors in future relationships (Dekeseredy, &Schwartz, 2013).
Theecological model provides a contextual understanding for roots ofviolence. This model suggests that behavior is shaped throughinteractions between individuals and their social environment(Dekeseredy, & Schwartz, 2013). This model highlights thatsocietal, community, relationship, and individual factors contributeto women’s risk of violence. Societal factors such as socialacceptance of violence and social power discrepancy easily lead toviolence against women. In societies with gender, social and economicinequalities, poor rule of law that discriminate women, and culturalnorms that support violence, female as the gender that is consideredas less powerful compared to their male counterparts, are likely tosuffer more in gender based violence.
Someof community factors that contribute to violence against womeninclude high crime levels in the community, high unemployment,poverty, and local illicit drug trade. The prevalent of such in acommunity eventually leads to violence against women as the majorvictims. High unemployment rate in a community leads to increasedpoverty level which is likely to cause high crime rates as peoplesearch for income, and use of drugs which eventually leads toviolence against women. For the relationships factors, they mayinclude poor parenting, violent parental conflicts, and associatingwith friends that engage in violence. As a result, one is likely todevelop violent behaviors and attitudes. Finally, the individualfactors such as history of violent behavior, substance abuse orpersonality disorder are also causes of violence, even against women.
Thesocial etiological model is another theoretical framework that helpsto understand violence against women. The model stipulates thatviolence against women is usually as a result of structuralinequalities in our social systems and in particular the familyorganization (Dekeseredy, & Schwartz, 2013). This means that thelevel of a society structural inequalities lead to domination of onegroup in a society over the other. In this case the gender roles andbehaviors assigned by society are different for males and females.This creates inequalities whereby the male gender, due to the rolesassigned to them seems as more powerful than the female gender. Thisforms a basis of abuse and violence as it creates a room fordiscrimination. When individuals especially the male, want to gaincontrol over a situation where females are involved, they simply useviolence against women since they are viewed as the powerful gender(Browne, 2012). At some personal level individuals may use violenceto resolve conflicts.
Analysisof the Theoretical the Perspectives
Thethree theoretical perspectives on the violence against women have acommon argument that factors that contribute to violence againstwomen are basically based on environment that the victims and orperpetrators are exposed to. Socialization thus comes clearly as animportant element in violence against women. The problem is majorlyrooted in unequal power relationships between males and females inthe male dominated society (Dekeseredy, & Schwartz, 2013). Theviolence against women is thus a global problem, not limited to aspecific group of women in a society. An understanding of suchmodels proves important for healthcare providers not only tounderstand the factors that cause violence against women, but alsoimportant in devising necessary interventions in addressing andreducing cases of violence against women.
TheImpact of Violence against Women in the Context of Public Health
Undeniably,violence against women has a great impact on public health. It is acommunity and public health issue affecting not only the abuser andvictim, but also everyone around them (Browne, 2012). Violenceagainst a woman affects her autonomy, productivity, capacity to carefor herself and her children, and ultimately her overall healthstatus and quality of life. This is as a result of the negativeeffects of violence on her physical and mental health.
Maternalmortality is a public health consequence of violence against women.Physical and sexual violence during pregnancy is linked tocomplications such as low maternal weight gain, misarrange andstillbirth, and low-birth-weight babies (Browne, 2012). Maternaldeath is also a consequence of violence against women duringpregnancy. Violence also limits women’s access to family planningwhich is able to potentially decrease maternal motility by anestimated 20-35% by reducing their exposure to pregnancy-relatedhealth risks (Browne, 2012). This reduces the demographic benefits ofreproductive health.
Violenceagainst women also has an impact on HIV/ Aids as a public healthissue. Women who have experienced or experiencing violence oftenengage in health damaging behaviors like unprotected sex, alcohol anddrug abuse, and smoking and eating disorders which contribute to highlevel of physical and psychological morbidity (Browne, 2012).Considering HIV and other sexually transmitted infection, violence islikely to increase women’s vulnerability to contract HIV and othersexually transmitted infections. This is because it is difficult fora woman to refuse sexual intercourse or negotiate use of protectionwith an intimate partner who is violent. Forced sexual intercourseis likely to tear the vagina hence increasing the risk oftransmission of HIV. Also, fear of violence may prevent women to shunseeking HIV testing, counseling or services including services forpreventing transmission to infants. When this is the case, and withincreased cases of violence against women, the public health is putat a risk whereby the majority of the population in the society wouldbe at a greater risk of contracting HIV and or other sexuallytransmitted infections, the root cause being violence against women.
Thehealth cost that comes with violence against women also has an impactin the context of public health. Women who experience intimatepartner violence have more health needs and seek health services morefrequently than the general public (Browne, 2012). This means that,if the severity and the frequency of violence against women increase,their use of the health facilities increases, which means increasedspending. Contrary to this, women who experience intimate partnerviolence are less likely to seek preventative healthcare likeblood-pressure checks and cancer screening (Browne, 2012). This has anegative impact on the overall health of women subjected to violenceand also the healthcare costs as they are likely to spend much morewhen diagnosed with serious illnesses.
ACritical Review of Resources and Information on Violence againstWomen
Asdiscussed in part one of this paper, violence against women does notonly have negative social impacts on the victims and society, butalso has profound negative impact on the public health. Violenceagainst women is not a private family issue but a community andpublic health issue that affects not only the abuser and his victim,but everyone around them (Browne, 2012). It is thus a significantsocial and health problem that affects a considerable population in asociety.
Violenceagainst women therefore being a serious problem that causes seriousdamage in society, has been given considerable attention by manyNon-Governmental Organizations and health based organizationswhereby, such organizations participate in advocacy programs to curbviolence against women. Organizations like World Health Organization(WHO) and the United Nations (U.N) are examples of organizationswhose part of their business involve advocacy programs to curb thevice. This paper will present a critical review of the availableinformation concerning violence against women as presented on the onthe Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) website.
Websitewith Information about Violence against Women
Awebsite can be a great tool from which information about a particularsubject can be easily found. The BWSS is a Non-GovernmentalOrganization that contributes to freedom and liberation of women andgirls from violence and empowers communities through training andeducation programs. They also provide support to the male gender byurging them to take a role in ending violence against girls andwomen. Basically the main business of the BWSS is to provideeducation, advocacy, and support services so as to assist allbattered women, with the main aim being to work towards theelimination of violence against women and endorse feministperspective that support equality for all women (Battered Women’sSupport Services. (2016). The information on BWSS websitedemonstrates that they do not only view violence against women as aproblem that needs to be addressed so as to achieve gender equality,but they have also presented it as a social and health issue thataffects the public at large. The information provided has created theawareness that, violence against women is a public health issue. Intheir discussion about the impact of violence against women onchildren, they have specifically stated that violence against womenis a public health issue that affects the victims and also thosearound them. This shows that they address the violence against womenin a health and social care context.
Evaluatinga website that provides information about a particular subject ofinterest is vital. A critical evaluation is important as it can helpto determine reliability and validity of the information about thesubject of interest as provided on a particular website. Provision ofreliable and valid information on a website can therefore make awebsite great research tool. Authority, scope, format andpresentation, cost and accessibility will be applied as theevaluative criteria of BWSS website in relation to violence againstwomen.
Authoritycovers the scope of reliability of the information provided,credibility of the authors, provision of the sources of informationprovided about the subject, author’s accessibility forclarification of information, and organization’s or authors biasesabout the subject of discussion.
Scopedetermines whether the information is available in other formats,whether the information is accurate, unique, and useful, whether thepurpose of the resource is clearly stated, whether the information ispresented as factual or as opinion, and whether or not theinformation is frequently updated.
Anevaluation of format and presentation determines whether theinformation provided is easily accessible, quality of the images usedand whether they enhance the information provided, arrangement oflinks, and whether the target audiences and users are clearlyidentified. The other evaluation criteria is cost and accessibilitywhich determines consistent accessibility of the content on thewebsite
Applicationof the Evaluation Criteria
Theinformation about the violence against women provided on the BWSSwebsite is reliable. Most of the information provided is based onreliable sources which are appropriately cited. The informationabout the status of problem of the violence against women in theworld has been provided with the support of the current statistics.The statistics provided about the status of the violence againstwomen are from reliable sources for example, the United Nations andothers sources which have been well cited and some of whose linkshave been provided.
Thefact that BWSS is an organization that addresses the issue ofviolence against women raises the credibility of the information theyprovide about the violence against women. Being specialist on thesame subject means that they have expertise on this subject and hencetheir information can be relied upon.
BWSShas also provided sufficient contact information in case of a needfor clarification of the information provided. Physical address,email address, business phone number and another toll free number arethe avenues provided to reach BWSS.
However,although BWSS has provided much information about the subject, thereis no evidence of any study conducted by BWSS. They have mostly basedthe information on other sources. An evidence of a research studyconducted by them as an organization would demonstrate theirexpertise in this area of violence and would also boosted theircredibility.
Consideringthe scope of the information provided, the material provided in theBWSS website is useful and relevant to the subject, violence againstwomen. The information can be useful for research as it provides theinformation about status of the problem in many parts of the world,creates awareness about the problem, and also educates individualsand societies on the important roles they can play to help endviolence against women.
Althoughthe information provided is factual as it is supported by reliablesources, there lacks an element of evidence-based originalinformation. Although provided information is valuable, most of it isborrowed and hence lacks originality. The aspect of being unique inthe information provided is also lacking. Most of the informationprovided in this resource can be easily accessed from other sources.
Theinformation provided is up to date and therefore this is an indicatorthat the resource if frequently updated. This increases reliabilityespecially on facts and figures that concern the subject of violenceagainst women. However, there is no provision of any other formatfrom which the resourceful information provided on this website canbe accessed. Provision of other formats would increase accessibilityand thus benefit a greater population.
Theformat and the presentation in terms of the graphical images areclear and relevant. The images on the BWSS website are relevant tothe subject of violence against women. Real photos intended tocampaign against the vice have been used. The pictures and otherartistic drawings on the website intended to communicate the emotionsand the pains that result from the violence are also used. The use ofvideo clips has also enhanced the resource. Basically the images usedon the website are relevant and they effectively enhance theinformation and the resource in general.
Thereis also a clear flow of the information provided. The links areprovided to help get information about the status of the issue ofviolence against women in different parts of the world. However,target audience and intended users of the information are notspecified. Nevertheless, this is not a great weakness as the issue ofviolence against women is an issue that affects not only the victimsbut the society at large.
Consideringthe cost and accessibility of the resource and the information, theBWSS website content on violence against women is freely accessibleand the content is consistent. Free access of the content createsopportunity for a wide access by many people and hence fast spread ofthe information.
Gapsin the Website and Recommendation
Oneof the major gaps in this resource is lack of original evidence-basedresearch specifically conducted by BWSS as an organization. Theinformation provided on this resource has heavily relied on othersources. It is important that the BWSS as an organization thatfocuses on eliminating violence against women in the society conducta study of their own to a dress a unique problem related to thesubject of violence against women.
Thiswould demonstrate their expertise in this area of interest. Therecommended unique area in the issue of violence against women is aperspective of the same from a health point of view. They can carryout a research touching on the impact of the violence on publichealth. This is an area that has not been deeply explored and thusBWSS as an organization would provide an important contribution tothe body of knowledge concerning this subject. After doing so theycan make the study available on their website through a link.
Anothergap is that the information provided in the BWSS website resourcelacks originality. The information is based on other cited sourceswhich are reliable. The recommended suggestion to bridge this gap isprovision of first hand information from the victims or and societymembers. This is in addition to conducting a research study that toprovide a unique perspective on the issue. Unique testimonials andsuccess stories can be a powerful tool to help fight violence againstwomen and as a well useful to help create an element of originalityof their content on their website.
Thefinal but not least recommendation is that they continue to providefrequent and up to date information about this subject of interest ontheir website.
BatteredWomen’s Support Services. (2016). Retrieved from: http://www.bwss.org/resources/information-on-abuse/numbers-are-people-too/
BrowneMiller, A. (2012). Violenceand abuse in society. understanding a global crisis Vol. 1. Santa Barbara, Calif, Praeger.
Dekeseredy,W. S., & Schwartz, M. D. (2013). Malepeer support and violence against women: the history andverification of a theory.
Look,P. F. A. V., Heggenhougen, K., & Quah, S. R. (2011). Sexualand reproductive health: a public health perspective.Amsterdam, Academic.