The Spectre of Domestic Violence
by TarikA on February 19, 2014 - 11:09am
Whether we choose to ignore it or not, it can still be said that violence is a ubiquitous characteristic of our society. Though we usually see it as being manifested through regional armed conflicts or local crime, violence is something that can also be found, quite commonly, at home. Across the world, millions of households are gripped with the horror of domestic violence, which can lead to many victims suffering from physical and psychological pain, or worse. The issue of domestic violence is explored in two articles – one from The Gazette and another from the Guardian.
In The Gazette article, titled “Preventing domestic violence is everyone’s business: shelter director”, by Sue Montgomery, the issue of domestic violence is brought up within the context of the recent killings that have occurred in Quebec during the month of February, which have claimed the lives of 9 people in total. All incidents, according to a professor and researcher at Université Laval, can be linked by one concluding statement – that “things weren’t going well” for the involved parties beforehand. In other words, these slayings were the product of unstable domestic lives and long periods of rumination, where the anger and resentment possibly felt by the assailants was left unabated by friends or loved ones around them. The killings in Ste-Croix-de-Lotbinière, Trois-Rivières and Terrebonne have left an indelible reminder on the horrors that domestic imbalance can bring, and have, many hope, helped shed a needed light on the significance that should be accredited to crimes such as harassment.
In the Guardian article, titled “Campaigners welcome Hamid Karzai’s intervention on domestic abuse law”, by Emma Graham-Harrison, it was announced that the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, had blocked a law that “would silence victims of domestic violence, forced marriage and child abuse,” due to pressure mounted from a campaign by Afghan activists and Western diplomats. The law in question bans “relatives from testifying against each other,” which largely undermines the efforts of the prosecution in even the most blatant cases of violence, mostly perpetrated against women. The law, which has since been altered, has still many worried about the fragile rights of women in Afghanistan, as the legislature does not grant “legal rights” to call relatives to testify in court; the decision is still optional, meaning that fair representation of an incident may be still hard to come by. In recent years, women’s rights in Afghanistan have faced a re-emerging wave of resentment from hardliners in the country, and many organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, have emphasized the importance that international diplomacy can retain on forming a more modest and fair criminal prosecution code in Afghanistan.
Though we may live an era where the spectre of domestic violence may be more readily denounced through portals such as social media and other parts of the Internet, domestic violence has still managed to profit from another growing web phenomenon – cyber stalking. In a journal published by the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice, the issue of cyber stalking is raised within a legal context, wherein legislature aimed at preventing cyber stalking (in the United States) is discussed, as well as how laws differ from state to state. The journal relates to the two previous articles as it emphasizes the importance that must be accredited to proposing stronger legislature with the aims of reducing or altogether preventing domestic abuse cases from transpiring. The legal system should be a barrier readily available to strike down on cases of stalking or abuse expressed at home.
Though the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice encompasses a whole range of disciplines in its journals, the most relevant in the case of domestic violence would have to be that of criminal law. According to the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario, this discipline is concerned with “harmful or undesirable conduct” perpetrated in society and a how an agent of the law (lawyer, attorney general, etc.) must respond to this. It is very much related to the issue of domestic violence as it deals precisely with how to handle the outcome of violence perpetrated amongst partners in a relationship or even between children and their respective guardians. Overall, the issue of domestic violence is indeed something that must be resolved more effectively through the legal system, but the issue also demands attention from people who witness, or have reason to believe, that their friends or members of the family are experiencing domestic abuse. Cases need to be reported and victims need to be guided and aided more heavily in order to insure a faster and more stable recovery from their given predicament. It’s easier said than done, but we need to promote awareness of the issue and solidify a need in our society for an open conversation on how to resolve it. Domestic violence is a spectre that has lingered for too long and it will continue to do so if inaction is the only thing that we are able to muster against it.