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[YRP Students' Essays] Eliminating Violence against Women in Japan and around the World

Introduction

There are many human rights that we ought to have from the womb to the tomb. However some people's human rights are violated now as in the past. For example, black people, foreigners living in Japan, disabled persons, and so on. Recently, we hear news about discrimination and violence against women. But these problems have always existed. Japanese women were among those who suffered violence and abuse from foreign men soldiers during World War II. Japanese people were both murderers and victims. Japanese men soldiers were violent against Korean and other Asian women during the war in the Pacific. They were called comfort women. This problem has not been solved yet. Many Japanese women were also harmed by foreign men soldiers during World War II. Now in Japan these problems do not happen, but in other countries many women are still in misery from violence and abuse by men soldiers. They are injured in mind and body. However they cannot complain to anyone or escape anywhere. And violence against women is happening in their home, too. In the past it seemed natural that women did housework and men went to work. If a wife did not finish the housework before her husband came home, some husbands would get violent. This violence also has a great impact on their children, for example, child abuse, truancy, and so on. Now many women flourish around the world more than the past, but they are still not treated equally in society as yet. They suffer sexual harassment and power harassment from bosses in their office. And some females suffer sexual harassment from male teachers. However, everyone should be equal under the law, so women must be treated equally with men. This paper will research discrimination and violence against women in Japan and other countries, and ways to eliminate these problems around the world.

Violence and Discrimination in Other Countries

Violence against women has existed throughout history, so this problem is not only in Japan. In other countries many women get cruel treatment from husbands, soldiers, and so on. First, an example of the most miserable violence from husbands is in India. There is a system that women and their family must follow in order to marry in India. It is marriage allotment called Dowry (Amnesty International, 2001, p. 18). It is money, goods or valuables that women and their family must bring to the husband (Wikipedia, 2009). And it is thought that the value of the women and of the Dowry are the same (Wikipedia, 2009). This system is a relic of the Caste system (Amnesty International, 2001, p. 38). There is a saying in India that if parents have three daughters, their family will be broke. Some families with daughters are heavily in debt (Indo Channel, 2008). If they cannot pay the Dowry, the wife may be hit, burned, or otherwise abused by husbands (Amnesty International, 2001, p. 18). Some husbands kill their wives, and after that they get new wives for more Dowry (Indo Channel, 2008). In 1998, women who were killed by the cause of Dowry were 6,929 people (Amnesty International, 2001, p. 18). These incidents are called Dowry murder (Indo Channel, 2008).

Second, here are some examples of violence from men soldiers in other countries. According to Amnesty's research this violence happens in all countries during wars (Amnesty International, 2001, p. 51). And this violence is almost always sexual abuse (Amnesty International, 2001, p. 53). For instance in Congo many women who were killed during the war were found naked with many scars left from sexual abuse (Amnesty International, 2001, p. 53). And in Algeria many women were kidnapped and raped by armies from 1993 (Amnesty International, 2001, p. 55). Almost all women who were raped were infected with venereal diseases, and some of them were infected with HIV (Amnesty International, 2001, p.55).

However, female victims cannot escape such treatment (Amnesty International, 2001, p. 58). Women's groups around the world have protested about this violence (Amnesty International, 2001, p. 58). For instance, in 1999 many women requested the Supreme Court to stop violence against women in Costa Rica (Amnesty International, 2001, p. 47). Many women hold demonstrations against violence around the world, too. All of them hope that women live peacefully with freedom.

Domestic Violence in Japan

There is some violence in Japan, too. The most common problem is domestic violence from husbands. We tend to think that the meaning of domestic violence is husbands violent against wives in their home. But it is more correct to say that domestic violence against women can take place anywhere (Egusa, 1999, p. 10). The perpetrators can include common law husbands, former husbands, fiance, former fiance, boyfriends, and former boyfriends (Egusa, 1999, p.10). And domestic violence (DV) can be separated into three main types (Muramoto, 2001, p. 20). One is physical violence, another is sexual abuse, and the third is psychological violence (Muramoto, 2001, p. 20). Physical violence is hitting, kicking, catching, pinching, taking them by the throat, using some cutlery, and so on. DV also includes threatening women with physical violence (Muramoto, 2001, p. 20). Sexual abuse is raping and other involuntary violation of their bodies (Muramoto, 2001, p. 20). Psychological violence is using abusive language, controlling their partner's actions, and so forth (Muramoto, 2001, p. 20). And this violence may connect with cases of murder. In 2000, 134 wives were killed by their husbands in Japan (Inoue, 2001, p. 18). But the mass media scarcely reported these incidents (Inoue, 2001, p. 19). There are three big reasons. First, Japanese law is hobbled by a traditional way of thinking that laws do not enter the home (Inoue, 2001, p. 19). So even if wives complained to police, it was treated as trouble solely between husbands and wives (Inoue, 2001, p. 19). Second, Japan has a long history of society not recognizing women's rights (Inoue, 2001, p. 19). Finally, Japan is still a society that places men above women (Inoue, 2001, p. 20).

And violence against wives harms their children very much. It is quite common that violence against wives extends to child abuse (Inoue, 2001, p. 139). If it does not lead immediately to child abuse, it still implants fear in their children's minds (Inoue, 2001, p. 139). Some children kill their father to protect their mother (Inoue, 2001, p. 140). And child abuse connects with eating disorders, truancy, depression, suicide, and so on. Most such husbands are violent against their wives even when they get pregnant (Inoue, 2001, p. 141). By comparison, in the U.S. it was reported that 15 percent of pregnant women suffered violence from husbands early in their pregnancy, and 17 percent of them suffered violence from husbands late in their pregnancy. For that reason they often miscarry, give birth prematurely, or there are other ill effects on their children (Inoue, 2001, p. 141).

The best way is often leaving their husbands to escape the violence (Muramoto, 2001, p.122). But many women cannot readily separate or divorce their husbands (Muramoto, 2001, p.123). They do not have confidence that they can make their own living after a divorce (Muramoto, 2001, p. 123). So when it comes to that point, they should research a help organization, collect information, and talk with someone (Muramoto, 2001, p. 123). Recently some facilities and places of consultations for women have been built (Inoue, 2001, p. 151). They include women's centers, women's consultation centers, and private consultation centers (Muramoto, 2001, pp.126-127). Furthermore, some laws to protect women have begun to be established (Inoue, 2001, p. 150). In 2001 DV abatement regulations were approved in Japan (Muramoto, 2001, p. 135). This law represented a big step forward to protect women (Muramoto, 2001, p. 135).

Violence and Discrimination in Japanese Society

This kind of problem happens in society as well, for example at schools and offices. First, there are cases of discrimination and violence at school. We tend to think that it is natural that attendance books start with boys' names, but this is discrimination (Kumata, 1991, p. 8). In other countries the attendance book is a mixture of boys and girls (Kumata, 1991, p. 8). Recently some Japanese schools are also mixing them (Kumata, 1991, p. 9). Second, there are cases where male teachers are violent or discriminate against female students at school. Such cases have come to be viewed as sexual harassment (Muramoto, 2001, p. 27). Sexual harassment is not only sexual behavior and sexual abuse (Muramoto, 2001, p. 28). It includes all discrimination involving the sex of the victim (Muramoto, 2001, p. 28). Their relative status as teachers and students is also involved (Muramoto, 2001, p. 27). Teachers have the power to evaluate and give credits to students. The abuse of this power often takes place in closed rooms (Muramoto, 2001, p. 27). So it is hard for a victim to accuse a perpetrator (Muramoto, 2001, p. 27). But recently some schools have opened a consultation window for female students (Muramoto, 2001, p. 28). Having such a window can prevent such problems from occurring (Muramoto, 2001, p. 28).

Women suffer discrimination and violence at offices, too. One major type of discrimination concerns promotions. Most companies have traditionally expected that women working in their company will quit their job before long (Kaneko & Tatsui, 1996, p. 131). This is supposedly because of marriage, childbirth, child care, and so on. So companies refuse to promote women (Kaneko & Tatsui, 1996, p. 131). But this is discrimination. Because Japan has a law called the Equal Employment Opportunity Law. This law states that all companies must treat the sexes equally with regard to promotion (Kaneko & Tatsui, 1996, p. 128). So when we work in society and we suffer such discrimination, we can pursue legal action. Recently many companies are considering promotion according to ability and eagerness (Kaneko & Tatsui, 1996, p. 134). And there are some companies where men can take child care leave. However, some companies are still traditional with regard to promotion. Second, women suffer sexual harassment at their office. This is a form of violence. Some women receive it even during their job interview (Kaneko & Tatsui, 1996, p. 24). If women suffer any abuse, it is very important that victims record what happened (Kaneko & Tatsui, 1996, p. 41), and they should confer with a lawyer (Kaneko & Tatsuki, 1996, p. 50).

Conclusion

Many women around the world suffer abuse and discrimination. Sexual abuse has been especially prevalent during wars. Women generally cannot escape from their community. So women have held demonstrations for peace and freedom. Naturally, Japan also has some discrimination and violence in homes, schools, offices, and elsewhere. And domestic violence influences children, so it becomes a kind of child abuse. If women suffer violence from men, they should not accept their violence with resignation. And it is important that both men and women know each other's feelings. Women should have self-confidence. Many victims think that it is their own fault. However, it is rarely because they are bad. Recently many organizations for women have been working on this problem. Some temporary shelters for women have been built. So women should be able to act without fear of retaliation. I think that everyone should work toward a society where all people can live in safety and equality.

References

Amnesty International Japan (2001). Kizutsuita karada, kudakareta kokoro [Hurt body, broken heart]. Tokyo: Gendaijinbunsha.

Egusa, T. (1999). Domestic Violence.

Indo Channel (2008). Dauri [Dowry]. Retrieved January 10, 2009 from http://www.indochannel.jp/culture/marriage/03.html

Inoue, S. Jyoseieno bouryoku [Violence against women]. (2001). Tokyo: Shinhyoron.

Kaneko, M. & Tatsui, Y. (1996). Hataraku josei no otasuke bon [Help book for working women]. Tokyo: Ryokufu shuppan.

Kumata, W. (1991). Onna to otoko: Otoko mo kangaeru seisabetsuno genzai [Women and men: Sexual discrimination today that men should also think about]. Tokyo: Horupu shuppan.

Muramoto, K. (2001). Boryoku higai to josei [Damage from violence against women]. Kyoto: Showado.

Wikipedia (2009). Dowry. Retrieved January 15, 2009 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dowry

Child Research Net would like to thank Osaka Jogakuin College and Rie Tanaka, student and author, for permitting reproduction of this article on the CRN web site.

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