Politics may seem to have little to do with an abusive household. However, studies have suggested a link between political tension and increased domestic violence, especially directed towards females by males. Increased political turmoil seems to cause more domestic violence especially when people in the family are directly exposed to the political troubles, but why does this occur and how can domestic violence be reduced?
People are Stressed by Violence
Political turmoil can have many effects on the economy and society. For one, people are more likely to lose their jobs and be unable to find new employment if the economy is suffering under torn leadership. This can lead them to become stressed and frustrated, resulting in them lashing out at family members.
People can also be worried about their own safety. In times of political turmoil, people in the country are often divided by their views of the authorities. Some may simply fear for their lives especially if demonstrations have become violent, and this fear can cause them to act more aggressively than usual. Others may become paranoid even about their loved ones, wondering if there is a spy in their midst. When faced with violence, some people may go into the “every man for himself” mindset and react with brutality to every small thing.
In a study titled “Association between exposure to political violence and intimate-partner violence in the occupied Palestinian territory”, researchers found that political violence had a strong correlation to intimate-partner violence. Wives whose husbands were directly exposed to political violence had a much higher chance of facing domestic violence than those whose husbands were not directly exposed. Even men who were indirectly exposed had a higher tendency to exert domestic violence on their wives, suggesting that the presence of political violence can spur some to become more aggressive towards their significant other.
Law Enforcement Officers are Busy
The rise of political turmoil means that law enforcement officers are likely dealing with other situations, such as riots, crimes or uprisings, or even just ordered to step up on patrol. If a political party foresees itself going to war, it may also delegate more law enforcement officers to form the fighting forces, rather than spend manpower on investigating allegations of domestic violence.
Although domestic violence can be just as serious a problem as anything else, it tends to happen in the privacy of one’s home, and this is believed to affect only individual families instead of a larger group of people. Since the authorities have more than enough on their plates under political instability, they would not be expected to take the initiative and meddle in the personal affairs of civilians. As long as domestic violence happens in private and off the public streets, everyone else may close an eye.
As such, the authorities may believe that law enforcement officers should focus their efforts on controlling the general populace instead of dealing with petty incidents that involve only one family. They may also not see it as their business to interfere in what some would consider a private matter. Sending in personnel to deal with every case of domestic violence can be viewed as a distraction to keeping the country under control and remaining in political power.
Domestic Violence is Not Recognized as a Problem
When domestic violence occurs, it is usually in traditional households and perhaps even communities. In a society where certain people are discriminated against, especially women, domestic violence may be thought of as a normal or naturally occurring incident, and the man’s right to enforce his will on his wife. Domestic violence also often occurs in places where people have a low education level and are not aware of their rights, making it probable that most acts of domestic violence will never be reported and the victims will simply live with it.
Since domestic violence may not be recognized as a problem in some parts of the world, it is also less likely for these communities to have help centres or call lines for victims of domestic violence to seek help. The victims themselves may not know of any avenues for assistance, with some of them unable to return to their families, especially in the case of arranged marriages. Even if a victim manages to find support, there are likely not enough resources to send aid or offer them a safe place to stay, more so when political turmoil is involved and the country’s economy is suffering.
Authorities Have Less Control
In a state of political turmoil, the authorities are less likely to command as much control over the people as during peacetime. Even if they recognize domestic violence as a prevalent problem among the people, they likely already have their own struggles to attend to, and may not be able to afford the time or manpower to look into the situation. If the authorities are losing control over their people, they may also find it difficult to get the population to listen to them over matters that do not directly concern the political situation. If the people themselves do not believe that domestic violence is a serious problem, they may rebel against the authorities for attempting to impose rules on their private lives.
Contesting political parties could campaign for the prevention of domestic violence, but they may not have any power to do so officially and could face opposition from members of the public if they attempt to take control of matters that go on in private homes.
How Can We Maintain Domestic Peace Amid Political Turmoil?
In some cases, maintaining domestic peace in peacetime is difficult enough. Domestic violence during times of political turmoil is an even greater challenge that is probably impossible to accomplish without the right support.
Given the above possible reasons for increased domestic violence amid political turmoil, it is unlikely that the situation can be solved by placing greater restrictions on people’s domestic lives. While this may be a temporary measure, it does not address the root causes of the problem. For a more permanent solution, perhaps the population should recognize that domestic violence needs to end. If abusive family members realize that domestic violence is wrong and there are other methods of resolving conflict in the family, they may reconsider their actions.
However, this is a far cry from where society is at the moment. With the constant state of political turmoil in some countries, addressing the “smaller” issue of domestic violence is a far-off dream. still the effect of political turmoil on domestic violence, raising some awareness even in difficult times can go a long way in eradicating the problem of domestic violence in the long run.