The reason why law enforcement plays an important role in preventing and stopping domestic violence is that all types of violence against women signal human rights abuses.
One of the main reasons women do not leave abusive relationships is that they are accustomed to domestic servitude and have no feasible means by which to achieve financial or social independence. Therefore, the education and re-education of women must become a primary priority in all nations. Schools cannot stop at the delivery of equal educational services for boys and girls, doing away with the "home ec vs. shop class" model that has prevailed in the past. Rather, schools need to stamp out signs of misogyny early by calling attention to sexist comments made in class, and by scrutinizing popular culture for media messages that perpetuate stereotypes about women. It may seem like a stretch to assume that gender stereotypes lead to domestic abuse and violence towards women in general. However, it is stereotyping that enables misogyny, which in turn fosters the cancerous growth of domestic violence.
Thankfully, social norms and values are shifting to create a climate more conducive to gender equity. As Jenkins & Davidson (2001) point out, "societal values have shifted to take violence against women more seriously and to view acts of domestic violence as crimes," (p. 2). For this reason, law enforcement can play a strong role in the community. Political interventions are also necessary in order to prevent and stop violence against women. In order to empower law enforcement to act against abusers and install CCTV in at-risk neighborhoods, lawmakers need to view domestic violence with fresh eyes. Considering that women still do not earn equal pay for equal work, gender equity in areas outside of law enforcement must be addressed with unequivocal legislation mandating parity. Until women can count on positions of power and financial security, they will continue to view domestic servitude as a viable option. The poor and disenfranchised are the most at risk for developing the low self-esteem that fosters submission, but all women are at risk for being in abusive relationships.
Women need to have easy access to help and resources. School children should have access to resources that encourage them to alert the appropriate authorities about abuses taking place at home. Women in abusive relationships should have access to free safe housing, as well as the means by which to make successful transitions to health and safety.
Those women who choose to remain with their partners should be offered free and accessible counseling for both partners, with the focus on ending the patterns of abuse. Rehabilitative services for abusers must become a part of any program directed at ending domestic abuse, for many of the abusers are victims of their own cultural norms and upbringing. The women in abusive relationships can and should take responsibility for transforming their role from victim to empowered citizen by never allowing themselves or their friends to remain silent when abuse happens.
No one should condone domestic abuse or violence against women, either tacitly or directly. Violence against women should become as distasteful as murder, and punished accordingly. Moreover, violence towards women must be framed not as a private problem between two people but a marker of deeper social ills.
Jenkins, P., & Davidson, B.P. (2001). Stopping Domestic Violence: How a Community Can Prevent Spousal Abuse. Springer.
Marcelino, J.H. (2009). Domestic Violence: A Gender Issue? Strategic Book Publishing.
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McCue, M.L. (2008). Domestic Violence: A Reference Handbook. ABC-CLIO.
Phillips, C. (n.d.). A review of CCTV evaluations: Crime reduction effects and attitudes towards its use. Retrieved online: http://www.scribd.com/doc/30767388/CCTV-Evaluations
Shipway, L. (2004). Domestic violence: A handbook for health professionals. Routledge.
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