This week, sexual abuse was a common theme throughout the readings and War on Women video. In the video especially it was apparent the effect a culture or society can have on ones understanding surrounding the acceptability of sexual abuse (Glynn, 2014). In week 2, I mentioned the common issue of sexual abuse towards women in China that takes place on public transport. Individuals say that this is a common occurrence that often goes unreported and people generally do not pay much attention to (Hilton, n.d.). Living in America it is hard to believe that such things could happen on public transport surrounded by tens of other people without anyone blinking an eye or stepping in to help. Another common issue faced by women in China is sexual harassment in the workplace. One survey by a Chinese NGO showed that 70% of the women surveyed had received some sort of harassment at work, and 15% had left their job because of it. The Chinese government has taken steps to reduce sexual harassment in the workplace, but one issue still remains prevalent without an effort for change until just 3 years ago: domestic violence against women within the home (Hilton, n.d.).
Domestic violence includes the infliction of physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering onto another human (Tam, et al. 2016). Nearly 90% of domestic abuse cases in China stem from men abusing their wives (Lancet, 2016). Studies show that between 25-43% of women have experienced domestic violence in China, but that it is likely that numbers are much higher in rural areas (Hilton, n.d.)( Leggett, 2017). In 2001, domestic violence in China became a valid reason for divorce, but was still treated as a private matter with no legal intervention even for reported cases (Lancet, 2016). It was not till 2015, that laws were made banning domestic abuse; but only regarding married female – male couples. Unmarried, divorced and same-sex couples are not protected in the law (Leggett, 2017). Similarly, to the video War on Women, where Congo soldiers where raping women because they claimed they were brought up and repeatedly told by commanders that this was okay and rarely saw consequences (Glynn, 2014); it seems that the absence of laws and government regulation in China against domestic abuse may have encouraged the issue throughout history. Longstanding gender bias has also been a large contributing factor (Leggett, 2017).
Although legally domestic abuse is now banned in married same-sex couples, the ‘spiral of silence’ continues due to the idea that the peace and status quo should not be disturbed. Culturally this is an problem because for many issues including domestic abuse, people feel that if they are in a minority, they should keep their opinions and problems to themselves, which greatly decreases the amount of unreported domestic abuse cases (Leggett, 2017). By suffering in silence, domestic abuse will never end. In relation to public health, research shows that women who are the victims of domestic violence experience higher levels of depression and psychological distress or trauma and lower self-esteem. Additionally, 45-84% experience high levels of post traumatic stress disorder. Besides the traumatic affects domestic abuse has on women, studies also show this has negative effects on parenting behaviors and children in domestic violence households. Children in these households are more likely to experience lower self-esteem, decreased social skills, increased behavior problems, fear, worry, depression, aggression and PTSD (Levendosky & Graham-Bermann, 2001). Domestic violence in China is still a taboo topic that needs to gain a higher understanding amongst its citizens in order for people to become more comfortable talking about it and sharing their experiences. Until then, it will continue to happen in high numbers in silence and remain a cultural and public health issue.
Glynn, D. [IRIN Films]. (2014, March 20). War on Women. Retrieved from https://www.irinnews.org/film/4984/war-women
Hilton, P. (n.d.). Challenges to Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in China. Retrieved from https://www.asafeworldforwomen.org/global-news/asia/china/4898-challenges-to-womens-rights.html
Lancet, T. (2016). Domestic violence in china. Lancet, the, 387(10023), 1028-1028. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(16)00689-9
Leggett, A. (2017). Online civic engagement and the anti-domestic violence movement in china: Shifting norms and influencing law. VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 28(5), 2251-2277. doi:10.1007/s11266-016-9680-9
Levendosky, A. A., & Graham-Bermann, S. A. (2001). Parenting in battered women: The effects of domestic violence on women and their children. Journal of Family Violence, 16(2), 171-192. doi:10.1023/A:1011111003373
Tam, D. M., Schleicher, K., Wu, W., Kwok, S., Thurston, W. E., & Dawson, M. (2016). Social work interventions on intimate partner violence against women in china. Journal of Social Work, 16(2), 228-249. doi:10.1177/1468017314568745