Violence against women has been longstanding in China due to hierarchal gender bias favoring men as the superior. Imagine how you would feel being in a relationship with someone that was violent towards you, with no solitude knowing that even if you did tell someone the government had no rules to protect you in this situation. Not only would this greatly increase your fear but the effects of violence would increase levels of depression, distress, anxiety, trauma, lower self-esteem and increase levels of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Levendosky & Graham-Bermann, 2001). “Wife beating,” the phrase given to domestic relationship violence in China (Zhang, 2009), was not seen as a crime or a problem of social harm until 2015 when laws rose to ban violence in a marital relationship (Leggett, 2017). In non marital relationships, or same sex couples, intimate partner violence (IPV) is still seen as a private matter (Leggett, 2017). Not only does experiencing violence effect physical wellbeing, but it also effects mental wellbeing and how one looks at themselves. In the video War on Women, one girl who had been raped spoke out saying she had lost all hope and they had destroyed her dignity (Glynn, 2014).
In China, studies show that between 40-43% of women are victims of intimate relationship violence (Leggett, 2016). China counts for just over 20% of the worlds population, but 56% of all female suicides occur in China. Suicide studies in China have found that most suicide attempts by women occur impulsively, directly after intimate partner violence that is often reoccurring (Yanqiu, Yan & Lin, 2011). In these cases, past and current violence leads women to commit suicide in order to escape their trauma. In the lecture with Mickey Sperlich, she mentions that trauma has many definitions. The DSM previously described trauma as life threatening, natural or man made disasters, being in an accident or involved in war. Now we accept a much broader definition of trauma as any sort of adverse event that has negative affects on health. This means that violence against women by men definitely classifies as trauma. Cases of suicide due to the trauma of violence, make it known how severe this trauma truly is. By framing this trauma as a health issue, it not only supports the idea that violence against women is wrong, but encourages women to speak up and get help. Unfortunately, the longstanding ideals in China make it difficult for women to find their voice in situations like these when they feel like the minority and do not want to disrupt the peace or be a bother to society (Leggett, 2017). Throughout history, sexual harassment in public and in the workplace towards women have often been ignored, making women feel that this is the norm and something they need to live with. Similarly, domestic violence in the home has been seen as a private matter that can be dealt with between a man and his wife. In this way, women have been made to feel like domestic violence against them is a normal part of life that they need to deal with themselves and not draw attention to. By reshaping violence as a health issue, past ideas of violence and trauma as an acceptable part of life in China are challenged, and women might begin to feel like they have a voice surrounding their own bodies and how they should and should not be treated. It also allows for a deeper understanding of health and trauma; that violence can lead to not only short term physical ailments but also long term physical and psychological health issues.
Intergenerational trauma occurs over long periods of time, and can even make unborn family members more susceptible to health ailments in the future. For instance, if a woman is beat by her husband, she experiences large amounts of trauma which can manifest into physical or mental issues. Intergenerational trauma explains how this trauma can be experienced by not only her immediate family, but also passed down to her unborn children. If those children experience health ailments of their own, the issues they experience can be due to this trauma that has been passed down (Coyle, 2014). This largely challenges the views of biomedicine which is largely concerned with current issues and treating symptoms. Biomedicine cannot treat trauma that occurred in a different generation because there is no short term cause and affect of this long term trauma. Biomedicine would not be able to recognize long-term trauma of the mind as the cause of physical issues that have arisen in the body. Biomedicine is also very focused on healing the individual and does not work to solve the main issue of domestic violence towards women as a long term societal/cultural problem in all of China.
Coyle, S. (2014, May). Intergenerational Trauma — Legacies of Loss. Retrieved from http://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/051214p18.shtml
Glynn, D. [IRIN Films]. (2014, March 20). War on Women. Retrieved from https://www.irinnews.org/film/4984/war-women
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
Yanqiu, G., Yan, W., & Lin, A. (2011). Suicidal ideation and the prevalence of intimate partner violence against women in rural western china. Violence Against Women, 17(10), 1299-1312. doi:10.1177/1077801211425217
Zhang, L. (2009). Domestic violence network in china: Translating the transnational concept of violence against women into local action. Women’s Studies International Forum, 32(3), 227-239. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2009.05.017