After going through this weeks reading and videos I began to understand what a large problem structural violence has become int he world. “Structural Violence” is often a difficult word to define, and something that is really well not known. For many people, including myself, this is the first time I have ever learned and understood the true meaning of structural violence. Paul Farmer described as structural violence as: “Structural violence is one way of describing social arrangements that put individuals and populations in harm’s way… The arrangements are structural because they are embedded in the political and economic organization of our social world; they are violent because they cause injury to people” (Gabriel, 2016). I looked up several definitions to try and understand this concept better, and as John Gatlung defines structural violence in more similar terms in Violence, Peace and Peace Research, “It refers to a form of violence wherein some social structure or social institution may harm people by preventing them from meeting their basic needs” (Gatlung, 1969). This second definition really stuck with me and made me look at violence in a new perspective. As stated, violence isn’t always causing physical harm to someone, but it can be as simple as preventing basic needs, which will ultimately destroy someone.
Unfortunately, we may have structural violence to blame for the devastating Ebola outbreak. When Ebola cases were found in the U.S. it was a huge epidemic, everyone was vaccinated that could be, and people were treated and quarantined that had the disease. Ebola was mostly prominent in West Africa, but unfortunately due to their socioeconomic status, they did not have the money, tools, or knowledge to provide the correct treatment for the disease that would not only treat it but prevent it as well. This was brought up when Farmer and Goodman discussed the disease, she claimed, “The disease would never make it to America”, while Farmer responded that it could definitely make it to America, but, “would be stopped quickly”. I think this in itself is extremely sad when you think of it. Although the world has the knowledge and technology to cure and treat a certain disease, people may still die from it because they don’t have the technology, especially third world countries. This idea of structural violence can also be viewed as “structural inequality”.
In an article I read, Who is Going to Pay for Higher Education in Africa it goes into a discussion of structural inequality. Even though it talks about Ebola, it is not the main topic. It is a good example of how Africa is a victim of structural inequality and structural violence and things such as higher education aren’t available to them because of their socioeconomic status. So it asks, who is going to pay for it. Which is a valid question, because with the problem of structural violence comes the even bigger issue of how the problem is going to be solved.
Sci Dev. “Who Is Going to Pay for Higher Education in Africa.” N.p., n.d. Web.