Our attitudes are shaped by many factors: culture, religion, media, school, family, etc. So a situation like domestic violence should be seen from a holistic viewpoint. I’ve traveled to Guatemala, where it’s not uncommon for women to experience domestic violence, have to ask permission to leave the house and to be confined to the house if she’s “too pretty.” Women are simply not valued even though they labor in the house, cook meals, care for children, wash laundry by hand, etc. I believe many factors contribute to their attitudes about being a woman just as many factors dictate how men are to behave. When women aren’t valued or offered opportunities, their potential is stunted, their self-worth suffers, and abuse can occur.
Domestic violence takes place in every country, so one particular culture is not to blame although it can play a role in how prevalent abuse is. I would also state that culture is no excuse for us to ignore abuse. I’ve read posts on the Internet where people say that we shouldn’t impose our Western values or our own morals on others. But that’s not how public health and human rights work — culture can be respected but nothing trumps health and human rights. All human beings – women included – have a right to safety as a human right. There is something known as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, spearheaded by Eleanor Roosevelt, that these commentators should read.
Anyway, here is a blog post from Change.org that provides a graph by Unicef on the percentage of women that accept domestic violence as “inevitable” – as if violence should be tolerated and husbands have this “right.” This, clearly, is a distorted notion of “rights.”