Gender & Violence

Ali Yasa
Posted December 2, 2012 from Afghanistan

Gender & Voilence

By Ali Reza Yasa

Violence, in most of human history has proved to be a masculine phenomenon rather than feminine.  “Survival of the fittest”, according to Darwin, is demonstrated when the female organism is targeted by violence in a “State of Nature” where animals tend to perpetuate their generation by dominating their female mates. In contrast, female organisms have not been active agents in the process of promulgating violence but, a constant victim of it. Among human beings, a great deal of patience has been developed in the female organism. This must not be construed as a negative attribute to women whose existence causes the continuation of the culture of war and violence but as something that has prepared grounds for their socialization and domestication. While women are often the direct victims of violence, they have also demonstrated the highest level of patience and tolerance for violence.  This may be construed as a trait that promotes violence because of their reluctance to rebel against it, but is instead, a source of eradicating violence by helping to uproot it from society. 

For instance, history is the evidence that the era torn by the devastating two world wars, highly exacerbated the heat of discrimination and gender stereotypes.  Women like Oriana Fallaci, who in her vigorous and comprehensive gender studies, analyzed that war was a masculine phenomenon. After World War II, philosophers like Simone-de-Beauvoir, through their insightful books as “The Second Sex” commenced the scientific study of reducing the psychological grounds of war and violence by motivating females to take more significant social and cultural roles. 

In Afghanistan many women lack the indispensable ability to influence the most parochial society. However, their impact as the most important source of socialization, which is family, remains a significant area where they can prove to start the cultural change. This appears to be quite feasible through educating women and empowering them with capacity building programs which can be a strong incentive for teaching and nurturing the values of peace in homes. 

Sima Samar is a political and women’s rights activist and nominee of the Nobel Peace Prize (2011)., Despite all the unfavorable circumstances of tribal honor and gender stereotypes in Afghanistan, Samar was able to influence the lives and dreams of thousands of women deprived of basic necessities of life. Although she is an exception, she has been able to earn the prestige often referred to as “Mother” of a significant tribe and role model for many women activists.

Violence in Afghanistan is an internal and cultural phenomenon, which means that family is the most immediate source of cultivating the seeds of violence.  The basic forms and frames of cultural values are shaped where men, as the superior member and family leader, are accepted and where their personalities are shaped. Thus, family must be the place where the change starts. The current generation of men need to be educated to reduce violence against women.

In retrogressive tribal cultures values such as plundering others’ properties, violence and physical power are rampant. The most important issue is that when such values are acceptable for societies, people are tempted to learn and apply them as their life-style in Afghan societies. If a fundamental radical change is ever expected it should start with changing such values. And since values are the contents of the process of socialization and change, the possibility for changing a society appears feasible. So if we want peace to be institutionalized, we must internalize values such as human dignity, freedom, respecting others’ rights, etc.Such values could mainly start from families. In families, literate women can prove to be the most influential and radical sources of socializing modern peace-building attitudes and values of struggle against violence.

In most tribal societies, because violence has a masculine nature, even if in part men have applied it on men, it has had an inextricable root in families.  Women are directly targeted by a more rudimentary form of family violence. In Afghanistan, women are well-aware of the pain of violence against them. Women’s awareness of gender discrimination and cultural anti-women stereotypes causes them to have a lower tendency toward violence.  Women have a higher motivation to control and eradicate violence because they are the immediate and direct sufferers of violence and will directly benefit from violence eradication. That is why they are in favor of a happy and peaceful life.

Women in tribal cultures like Afghanistan must be educated.  The values influenced by the "State of Nature" are highly masculine and impose themselves so radically as a life-style in such tribal cultures. Women in families have a tremendous opportunity to foster humane values and nurture positive peace-loving attitudes necessary for eradicating violence of any type.  If women are trained and get the required education, the basis of violence will be shaken. And because the violence is controlled at home by women, it can soon affect the society and we will have more peaceful future generations whose behavioral ideal is not a violent Afghan father. 

Ending Gender-Based Violence 2012

Comments 2

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Kara Lozier
Dec 09, 2012
Dec 09, 2012

Dear Yasa,

It is always so nice to have a male's voice on World Pulse!! Thank you!. I have read your article many times. Each time it hits me more deeply. What you propose seems so simple and so obvious. All of our most basic lessons and beliefs and values begin at home, in our families. From the moment of our birth, we see the world through the lens of what we witness and experience at home. That becomes our "normal". You mention the importance of women's education and literacy which I agree with in a general sense - but in the sense of "fostering humane values and nurturing positive peace-loving attitudes" even an uneducated and illiterate mother can do that. We have programs in the U.S. with names like "positive parenting", "family time coaching" and other such things. If people are raised in a violent home, they don't have good role models. They don't know other ways to solve conflicts, control their anger, mediate problems and use communication as a conflict resolution tool. These things can be taught to uneducated and illiterate people as well.

Yasa, these kinds of programs exist in other parts of the world. I am sure there are unlimited resources available to start such initiatives in Afghanistan. It seems the new generation is eager to make changes. They just need the training and the tools. They need to change what has been "normal" for too many generations. They need to recognize the detrimental impact that violence has on their children and, subsequently, on the culture as a whole. Change can begin on such a small scale and I am witnessing that change in Afghanistan at this very moment. Your post and your sensitivity toward this issue is a great example. I hope to continue to witness even greater changes spearheaded by strong and committed young Afghans like yourself.

Peace and blessings, Kara-Amena

Marcie Lesnick
Dec 12, 2012
Dec 12, 2012

Great piece of writing. Very positive and you story can empower others.

Best, Coach Marcie