Through examining “Domestic Violence: A Cross-Cultural View”, by Elaine Leeder, domestic violence is similar in India, Japan, and Africa depicted through the “reflection of structural inequality and cultural attitudes about gender”(p. 248), presented as a major global issue. Domestic violence in each society, is justified by beliefs, striving to achieve desired values held by that society, at the expense of others. Specifically, partaking in violence using physical or emotional abuse to socially control a gender while empowering another, illuminated by the theoretical social-conflict approach.
However, the reason giving rise to domestic violence varies. For example, “many forms of domestic violence in India occur as a result of rising industrialization and modernization”(p. 248). In contrast, Japan is a highly industrialized country, but “male violence in Japan seems to cross all socioeconomic strata” (p. 250). In addition, society in Vietnam still values “the old Confucian ideas of ‘thinking highly of men and slightly of women’ seem to inform beliefs about hitting one’s wife” (p. 251). Moreover, in Africa, specifically “Uganda, violence against one’s wife is accepted as legitimate” (p. 252), referred to as part of “our culture” (p. 252).
With our focus on India, industrialization and modernization have led to increased child abuseIndia as a result from a “greater amount of stress”(p. 249), placed on middle class families, striving to gain upward social mobility, suggesting violence as an avenue used to release frustration created by not readily having the means to achieve goals. Child abuse may also be a result of the traditional aspect of Indian culture, which entails a “pattern of corporal punishment in raising children,” in which the “children are socialized to obey their parents, with use of strict discipline” (p.249). This statement proposes child abuse is considered a norm, passed from generation to generation. Additionally, the “family is highly hierarchical, and now that more families are moving away from the joint family, there is less support for raising children and sharing household tasks” (p. 249). This statement exemplifies the change in family life, causing strain from balancing the family and household needs with less support and more responsibility. Indian society is also ingrained with the use of corporal punishment, exemplified in a study, which reported “56.9 percent report having used ‘acceptable’ forms of violence, while 41.9 percent engaged in ‘abusive’ violence”(p. 249).
Child abuse in India is an important concern, “particularly in rural villages”(p. 249). According to Barbara Miller, who had “found significant discrimination against girl children there”(p. 249). This discrimination incorporates many forms of thoughts and actions, ranging from being thought of as less than, to the “withholding of medical care for girls and preferential feeding of boy children” to “female infanticide”, supporting the social inequality faced by females starting at the time of conception, forward. The discriminatory cultural attitudes in relation to gender snowballs from this point onward, spanning from one generation into another, being considered part of the norm. This supports why wife battering is a prevalent issue, accented by the “normal” family dynamic tradition.
Wife battering is referred to as “a fairly common occurrence”(p. 248), validated if the woman “does not behave herself” (p. 248), not “fulfilled societal expectations”(p. 250), “dowry problems, a wife’s infidelity, her neglect to household duties, or her disobedience to her husband’s dictates” (p. 249). Through examination of the text, wife battering in India has alarmed the attention of both the Indian government and feminist organizations.
Although Leeder refers to rising industrialization and modernization increase the likelihood of family violence, wife battering is common in high income countries such as Japan and the United States reflecting the cultural views attached by society in regard to gender. Most women never complain about domestic violence because there is little or no help available to support great change and/or support the ideology behind the abuse.
The individual, legal, historical, and cultural factors that help explain their silence, are generated from the beliefs and values their society holds. For example, India “having fulfilled societal expectations seems to provide a deterrent to abuse” (p. 249). Japan, “unlike the United States, Japan has no specific laws against wife battering as a crime, and there is no governmental funding for services that address the problem” (p. 250). In Vietnam, “laws were passed to equalize the rights, positions, and interests of women” (p. 251),“unfortunately, today the vestiges of Confucian ideology still linger” (p. 251). Historical factors in Africa, exemplified “if a woman attacks her husband, the violence is considered criminal,” but “there are no specific laws against wife battering” given that “it is hard to implement the law since law enforcement officials view the problem the way the public does, as not a problem” (p. 252).
In addition, the text depicts both “invisible violence”(p. 251) and “visible violence” (p. 251) in Vietnam. Though laws were passed to attempt to level the playing field, a bit, today the “vestiges of Confucian ideology still lingers”(p. 251), supporting the social inequality of women in Vietnam today. The “invisible violence” refers to panic and trepidation that “drives the relationships”(p. 251), justified by Confucian ideology. The “visible violence” is the violence that has caused “numerous injuries and deaths related to violence in the home” (p. 251).
Leeder urges us to suspend “any ethnocentric value judgments” about family violence, meaning to examine without judging from our own biased perspective, to use sociology to engage in cultural relativism for more of a correct understanding of what it is and why, and not what it should be. This does not mean that the global community shouldn’t interfere with a country’s violent practices against women and children, but when we need to this proposes that we need to have an unbiased understanding about their culture, in order to obtain a widely accepted solution.