Violence against women is a pervasive malignant phenomenon that tends to involve people of various cultures, geographical areas, age groups and socio-economical classes. However, the way it manifests may vary tremendously depending on the above variables. In general, violence against women and girls can be of physical, psychological, sexual or economical nature. Given the expansive influence of violence on major life areas of women, exploring the precursors of this heinous act would be of critical importance. Although, researchers have enumerated and classified the correlated factors through various approaches, in this article I would like to point out only two of these factors, namely childhood experiences and adult attitudes.
What one experiences in childhood, as early as the first two years of life, can greatly affect his behavior in adulthood. For example, the type of attachment or the enduring affective (emotional) connection that forms between the care-giver (e.g. mother) and the infant may have a great influence on the behavior of the person when he becomes an adult. Parents who respond appropriately to their children’s needs and provide them with love and care, create a “secure attachment” between the child and themselves. Research has indicated that such children will exercise a similar responsive, sensitive, and caring relationship with their spouses in adulthood. As a result, they tend to feel secure and trust their partners. On the other hand, if the parents do not respond appropriately to their children’s needs, a different form of attachment called “insecure attachment” will develop between them and their children. These children tend to perceive the world as harsh, unreliable and unsafe. As a consequence, they are likely to mistrust their spouses and exert extreme control on them. Such attitudes tend to result in committing violence against their spouses.
In addition, research has shown that children who witness or experience violence tend to perpetrate violence against their spouses. In fact, when a husband exerts violence against his wife, children model his behavior and assume that the only solution to disagreements is violence. Therefore, they practice it in their own future adult relationships and thus transmit it to their children. In fact, it functions the same way as watching violent movies would promote aggressive behavior in people.
The second factor I would like to point out here is perception and attitude of the community about women. For example, in Afghanistan, especially in rural areas, certain words that tend to indicate someone as weak and incapable, are used to refer to women. One of these words is “Ajeza” which means powerless. The other word that is frequently used is “Seya Sar” which means black headed (Seya= black, Sar=head). Moreover, instead of being called by their names, women are called by their sons’ names such as Asad’s mother. In one specific occasion, there was a follow-up female patient with a big hole on her previous prescription. The missing area had contained the patient’s name. In fact, her husband had ripped off that area and demanded that her name should not be written on prescriptions; rather it should be put in the form of “her son’s mother”. Such attitudes that portray women as weak and incapable are not only psychological violence by themselves, but also yield further perpetration of violence against women. For instance, they may contribute to self-blame when women are abused, because they repeatedly hear these words and consequently come to believe that they are weaker than men.
In conclusion, providing sufficient love and care for children and responding to their needs sensitively may contribute to the prevention of violence against women through bringing up secure men who tend to form secure attachment with their spouses. In addition, parents can prevent violence against women in the new generation by proving to be good role models for their children and avoiding any violence, especially before children. Finally, taking the initiative to change some harmful attitudes towards women by providing education, awareness and a better mentality can mitigate the burden of violence against women in a community.