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In an exclusive interview with one of the human rights officials Mr. Ahmed from one of the countries in the eastern region of the African, I was seeking to find out really how domestic abuse in an African society is taken, how is it classified in this region, what are its effects to the individuals and the society, what could be the major causes of domestic abuse, if there could be a cycle of abuse in an this region and lastly what are the management measures laid on the ground to mitigate or curb this and peoples point of view particularly in relation to African culture. African continent is known to be consisting of numerous communities that each has its own customary laws that are greatly valued by the owners.
Mr. Ahmed began by giving a definition on what domestic abuse is. According to his explanation, domestic abuse or rather known as violence can be defined as someone's behaviour that my deem abusive to one or both parties that are supposedly in an intimate relationship which applies to marriage, family, friends, dating or even cohabitation. According to Mr. Ahmed, domestic abuse encompasses many forms for instance threats, physical aggression which include hitting, biting, slapping restraining, throwing objects, kicking and even shoving. It can also be seen through sexual and emotional abuse, one intimidating another person, one person controlling or domineering another one so much. Neglect and economic deprivation is also seen as a form of abuse.
Mr. Ahmed further explains that domestic abuses occur by use of different modes by the perpetrators. The most common among all of them is the physical which can be described by one intentionally contacting the other to cause injury, pain, intimidation and any other form of physical suffering to the body of this person. Most people especially couples physically abuse each other by punching, slapping, pushing, hitting, choking and pinching among so many others. This is basically aimed at causing physical harm or injury to the intended persons. He adds that behaviours that do deny other people for instance medical care whenever needed and other necessary functions that are life supportive can also be termed as physical abuse. Situations have occurred where a person is forced into drug abuse which is not necessarily his wish is too an abuse to this victim.
The second form of domestic abuse in this context identified is sexual abuse. Sex can be termed as abuse or abused when one is forced to indulge in the sexual activity or when one uses force to obtain unwanted sexual activity. Even if in marriage, forced sex by a spouse or partners that are intimate forced sex is also seen as violence. Sexual abuse can further be contextualised as the force physically used to compel a victim to engage in the act of sex which is strongly against his or her own will regardless of whether the act is completed or not. One can also be said to be sexually abused whenever the attempt to engage in the act of sex or whether it was completed with the individual who may not be in position to understand what sex really is.
Under this circumstances, the person is therefore said not to be able to say no to participate in the act and eventually succumbs to it. In most occasions this particular persons are unable to communicate their thought on not engaging in the act of sex. From the research carried out on this study, some of the underlying issues that have paused threat to this offensive are because of immaturity, some illnesses particularly those that affect a person's mental capability, disabilities in relation to physical wellness, some yield to it due to intimidation and influence of alcohol and drugs.
Emotional domestic abuse is also referred to as mental or psychological abuse. It can be in the form of humiliation where the victim is either privately or publicly humiliated. It can also be in the form of making one feel diminished through denying him or her access to certain information that would have helped him or her accomplish certain objectives for instance basic resources, necessities and money. It can also be in cases where one is denied access to his or peers, friends and other family members. A person can also be emotionally abused through implicitly being blackmailed whenever he tries to express himself.
Therefore, emotional abuse can also be noticed in any behaviour that may threaten the life of a victim, it undermines his rightful living and also intimidating this persons self worth and thus controlling his entire freedom. Victims have been threatened with injury or death for instance if they ever quit the relationship. Sometimes bad names are called to refer to victims and this has greatly affected them emotionally. Statements are also made sometimes to specifically create tension or fear or insecurity in a person's life. As a result of this, victims have occasionally felt that they are the cause of the whole fault that is leading to the abuse when in real sense they aren't. The victims of emotional abuse do suffer from risks of committing suicide, drugs, alcohol abuse and depression.
From the interview, Mr. Ahmed added that language is also used to abuse some people. This can be done through disrespect, ridicule, ignoring and criticism that is sharp. Just like others mentioned before, the manipulative terms, words and phrases are basically to falsely accuse, humiliate the intended victims and to manipulate persons so that they can yield to whatever the abuser wants which in most occasions it has been used for behaviours that are an undesirable. This at the long run makes the intended person feel unwanted in the environs he or she is. Verbal abuse has been used to isolate others.
Another form of abuse is the economic abuse where in this case the abuser has is said to take control of both the economic resources and his or her money. Most cases have arisen where the victim is put on very limited allowances yet the money has been withheld leading him to borrowing. Consequently, most people have been economically abused in ways like denial of access to education or even access to any employment opportunity.
According to Mr. Ahmed, these forms of abuse have adverse effects to the victims. Physical abuse have left the victims with physical challenges like head injuries, internal bleeding, broken bones. In some cases, victims have been able to be linked to particular illnesses because of the abuse they go through in life. For instances, medical doctors have been able to link domestic abuse to diseases like chronic pain, arthritis, ulcers and even pelvic pain for those that have gone through sexual abuse. Physical abuses have even led to death where one is beaten to death particularly to expectant mothers who in turn go with the foetus they are carrying.
Some forms of abuse lead to social phobia whereby these are fears involving people or social situations for instance performance anxiety or fears of embarrassment incase you are scrutinized by others, such as eating in public places. Social phobia is further subdivided into generalized social phobia and, specific social phobia, where anxiety is triggered only during specific situations. Medically, people with phobia are characterized using the following; feeling of panic, horror, terror or dread, when they realize that fear goes beyond normal situation and actual threat of danger, reacting in a manner that is automatic and uncontrollable which is practically taking over somebody's' thoughts and the rapid heartbeat, trembling, shortness of and certainly an overwhelming desire to be out of the situation (Robin, 2004)
Traumatizing events in most cases are said to be the major things that trigger the development of this character of specific phobia in persons which is medically proved to be more in women than men. Social phobia does develop in a person's life when he or she often faces embarrassments or even humiliating situations from the peers in social places and poor social skills greatly contribute towards the development of social phobia in a person. Cultural influences also lead to the development of certain phobia in people's lives for example, the tajjin kyufusho in Japan in which a patient gets afraid of being loathed or humiliated by other persons. Tajjin kyufusho is a kind of phobia that is culturally influenced and is associated with the fear of doing wrong to other individuals by showing to much respect or the aspect of modesty (Robin, 2004).
The patient is in most cases afraid that his or sick situation will embarrass other people who have close ties with her or him due to the physical defect from the sickness. Social phobias sometimes begin at the age of between 15 to 20 years and most of the childhood phobias sometimes end up when a child grows or before adulthood and those phobias that do persist can only be resolved medically. Phobia is also developed when one associates danger to things and situations we can't control or avoid i.e. attack of dangerous animals. Consequently these victims avoid this places or situations where they might become embarrassed publicly. Phobia development is thus believed to be associated with the genetic combination of generic pre deposition mixed with environmental factors.
According to Mr. Ahmed, domestic abuse has been found to be subjected to particular persons majorly and in this case they are women. In the United States department of justice, a survey carried out on 16,000 Americans indicated that 22.1 percent of the American women and 7.4 percent of the men have once reported being abused domestically. As a body of men from which women excluded, but as a body composed of differing parts. Women supposedly conserve energy (being anabolic) and this makes them submissive, conventional, slothful, unstable and impassive in politics. The masculine nature of men motivates their energy, eagerness, passion thus giving them a taste of politics and social matters.
Sex and gender are allied with the distinctions between the biological and the social, and the body and the mind, in a way that reinforces these uncritical dualisms. Bodily difference between men and women will ensure that there are differences between their minds. This does change with the way people imagine themselves and the world in which they live. Gatens says that a rational polity will take account of the differences between citizens which shape their ways of striving to preserve themselves. It has been argued that masculine and feminine forms of behavior are not arbitrary inscriptions on an indifferent consciousness which is joined to an indifferent body. To speak of acquiring a particular gender and its intimate relation to biology as lived in a social and historical context. It has been argued also that masculinity and femininity do not differ with regard to the sexes in terms of quantity only, but also qualitatively.
The male transsexual can be understood only if we first understand the genesis of the primitive ego on the other hand female transsexual cannot be symmetrical. The relation of the female infant to the mother's body is not and cannot be problematic in the same way. The female transsexual is much more likely to be a reaction against oppression, that is, against the socially required forfeit of activity that was once enjoyed and socially tolerated. The transsexuals know very clearly that the issue is not one of gender but one of sex. Contrally, men are said not to report most of the abuses they go through and this may alter the exact percent number of the affected. Some cases have also not been reported due to lack of access to relevant authorities or due to intimidation from the abusers.