Domestic violence is a cycle of physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economical abuse, which is repeated with increasing frequencey and is realized against a woman by her partner (husband, boyfriend) or another relative (adult child, etc.) with the aim to gain control or authority over the person.
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Domestic violence is any abuse, whether between existing or former spouses, existing or former partners in an unregistered relationship, first-degree relatives (children and parents), second-degree relatives (grandchildren, grandparents, sisters and brothers), people with a common (single) household (people sharing a house or an apartment) or not.
Types of violence:
Physical violence – any physical harm, for example, beating, kicking, slapping, hair pulling, choking, pushing, forcedly grabbing by hand, use of a weapon, etc.
Sexual violence – any sexual harm, for example, rape, forced or violent intercourse, violent involvement in sexual act, sexual harassment against the will of the victim, etc.
Emotional violence – any verbal, emotional or psychological harm, for example, regular threats, menace with physical or sexual violence, threats to take away ones children, name-calling and belittling, stalking (following, waiting by the house or workplace, regular and unwanted calling or sending sms or e-mailing), prohibition to meet ones friends and relatives, etc. You can find more information here.
Economical violence – any act aiming at subordinating the victim, with the oppressor using a superior financial situation as a weapon, for example, concealment of income, dispossessing the income of the victim, striving to prevent the victim to have any income, giving money when the victim has met a demand, etc.
Violent control – any act that involves harassment, sexual coercion, threats, humiliation, intimidation or other violent acts aimed at harming, punishing or intimidating. strangulation, pushing, tight grip, use of weapons, etc.
Persecution – Any repeated and systematic non-physical influencing of a person with the aim of creating in the victim a feeling of fear and anxiety in order to make the victim change their behavior to what the abuser desires, and maintain control over the victim.
Violence and human rights
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN, states that a partners violence against a woman at home is a form of discrimination against women. With the ratification of the UN Convention of 1979, Latvia is obliged to implement all measures to eliminate discrimination against women by any person, organization or enterprise, and this includes protection from domestic violence.
Violence against women is any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. (Article 1 of the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women; the UN General Assembly resolution 48 of 20 December 1993).
The UN has acknowledged that violence against women seriously hampers women to use their rights and freedom on equal terms with men, yet the widespread prejudices and practices in the society justify gender-based violence as a form of protection or control of women. The preamble of the Recommendation Rec(2002)5 of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on the protection of women against violence states that violence against women runs counter to the establishment of equality and peace and constitutes a major obstacle to citizens security and democracy in Europe.
Situation in Latvia
Latvia has no statistics that would disclose the prevalence of domestic violence and problems associated to it. Data from other countries reveal that domestic violence is a common social phenomenon.
In line with the World Health Organization data partners (men) represent the guilty party in 70% of the cases of murdered women. Worldwide 30—60% of women become victims of violence. The statistics of the Council of Europe reveal that one in four women have experienced domestic violence in their lives and 6—10% of women suffer from it annually. Domestic violence is also the most frequent cause of death and disability among women aged 16—44.
Causes of domestic violence in Latvia can be found on various levels — individual, family, community and state. There are several fundamental problems in Latvia that need to be resolved — myths on domestic violence are still widespread in the society and domestic violence is accepted. An opinion poll shows that 15.8% of the respondents acknowledge violence against women in the family to be justifiable. The society still believes that domestic violence is a family matter and one should not interfere there; 46.5% of the respondents say they would not interfere in a case of domestic violence. Quite often domestic violence is unidentified.
Besides, an unequal division of roles among women and men is still common in families, which is based on the patriarchal society model (the roles assigned to men grant them more favourable socioeconomic conditions if compared to women). The above mentioned division of roles is one of the reasons why women choose to bear violence at home. An opinion poll on the most common reasons for women to choose to stay with the oppressor gives several answers — insufficient means to provide for herself and the children (54%), as well as another, safe shelter (43.6%); this clearly demonstrates the financial dependence on the oppressor.