Domestic Violence: Local Activities - International Issue

Margrit Brückner

Abstract

Since violence against women in the family has been made public by the international women’s movement beginning in the 1970ies in Western States and after 1989 also in Eastern Europe a rapidly growing number of institutions and networks emerged. There exists a growing number of networks on the level of the European Union, which supports the anti violence work and research on this topic.

About 30 years of research mainly in Western post-industrial societies show that in the analysis of violence towards women it is important to differentiate between culturally induced individual (or group) oppression by men and the way this is made possible by societal structures based on gender inequality. Therefore hierarchical family relations and personal behavior of men are one aspect to look at, the structural societal set-up the other. The extent of gender-specific violence can be interpreted as an extreme consequence of the hierarchical construction of gender relations, which seem to justify a personal and sexual subjugation of women and in the extreme even violence towards women. Without this structural component individual violence would not all together fade away, but would lose its societal and cultural back-up. Cross-cultural studies show the interconnection between a comparatively equal gender structure and little gender and generation violence and vice versa. The complexity of gender violence makes a theoretical position necessary which analyzes individual aggression (mostly male) and individual suffering from violence (mostly female) - often over many years - on the background of structural and cultural conditions including the multifaceted connections and breaks between these backgrounds and personal social practices.

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