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Scenes of a marriage


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
No Japan-bashing, sadly marital violence is still very common. Everywhere.

Reported by the Washington Times, Nov. 25, 2002:

Battered Japanese women speak up; Awareness leads to calls

By Takehiko Nomura

TOKYO - In a male-dominated society where women are expected to be subservient, it took Shizue 30 years of marriage to escape a vicious cycle of domestic violence. She was in peril of death on a winter night a year ago when her husband became more violent than ever with his relentless kicks, punches and shouts. He even cut and tore Shizue's clothes and started to drag his bound wife across the floor. Shizue, struggling to escape from her violent husband, managed to grab the phone and call their son living next door. With all the windows and doors locked, the son smashed one window, got into the house and finally managed to subdue her husband. While the husband was taken to a police station, the rest of the family moved out of the neighborhood and relocated to the countryside. The violence left fractures in Shizue's coccyges and purplish bruises all over her body.

"My swollen face was so terrible that I didn't look like a human being," recalled Shizue, who asked that her real name not to be used. Shizue had not known her husband well before marrying him, and his dual personality frightened her. "He turned violent every six months as he punched me and kicked me at night," she said. "But soon after that period he would suddenly became a totally different person. He would be gentle and buy me expensive accessories and meals." The cycle of his violence lasted for 30 years. Her husband accused her of falling in love with someone else whenever he abused her, she said, but she strongly denied the accusation. Instead of blaming her husband, however, she blamed herself. "I thought some of the fault might be mine," she said. "And I couldn't tell anyone. I was hiding everything." However, a small article on domestic violence buried in a local newspaper captured her attention and made her think that other families might have the same problem. That prompted her to go to a library to read up on the subject.

"I told myself that this isn't only my problem, so I don't have to be ashamed of it," she said. By the time Shizue became aware of the issue, her husband's violence had escalated so much that she had to escape. Her experience is one of a growing number of appalling stories that have begun to surface as the issue of domestic violence gets public attention in Japan. When Japanese women are battered, they don't usually tell others or seek counseling. According to a government survey, about 40 % of women surveyed think if they remain patient, they can get through it. A similar percentage think the victim is also at fault. Those who have studied domestic violence say that even if a battered woman tells friends or family members, some advise her, "You should be patient."

In the past few years, however, more women have broken the silence as the number of battered women who seek help at public or private shelters all over the country has skyrocketed. According to the Asian Women's Center (AWC) - a nonprofit organization in Fukuoka that provides emergency shelter, counseling and support to victims of domestic violence - the number of women who asked the center for advice or help more than doubled to 202 last year from 88 in 1999. A government survey done in 2000 showed that 27.5 % of wives have been beaten by their husbands, and 4.6 % of women in another study said spousal abuse had put them in a life-threatening situation. According to private groups, domestic violence in Japan takes the lives of more than 120 women annually. But in a country where the husband is considered the master of the family while the wife is treated as a maid, the real number is probably much larger, several specialists contend. Some analysts say a decade-long economic downturn has contributed to the surge of domestic violence as men's jobs, livelihoods and status are threatened by bankruptcies and corporate restructuring. "The number of men who are unstable has increased recently. And we see such a trait in most batterers," said Tomohiro Ishikawa, director of Aichi Support Center in Nagoya, which provides support and counseling to battered women. "Economic uncertainty seems to be one of the factors that have made them unstable," Mr. Ishikawa said. Domestic violence exists everywhere.

According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), 20 percent to 50 percent of women and girls around the world are on the receiving end of what the agency calls a "global epidemic" of violence by spouses or other family members. "Violence against women is present in every country, cutting across boundaries of culture, class, education, income, ethnicity and age," says a UNICEF report on the subject. As more and more stories of battered women have been reported all over the world, a U.N. conference on women held in New York in June urged countries to enact legislation to stop the violence. In Japan, in a report submitted to Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori in July, the Council for Gender Equality labeled domestic violence a criminal act and called for adequate legislation and measures to stop it. Responding to urgent requests from lawyers, scholars, activists and battered women, a group of lawmakers in the House of Councilors - the upper chamber of the national Diet - are working on a long-awaited bill on domestic violence and plan to submit it to the upcoming Diet session. The bill would authorize courts to issue forcible eviction orders against perpetrators and protection orders for victims. It also would set up public shelters and counseling centers where women can seek help and advice. "There has been heated debate on the bill, and there has been a lot of opposition - especially from bureaucrats such as the Justice Ministry," said Fumie Saito, an aide to Mizuho Fukushima , a member of the Social Democratic Party. Yoko Komiyama, a Democratic Party member, sees such opposition as a major obstacle for the bill. "They are adamantly protecting vested interests and the existing law," she said. The bill also would provide subsidies for private shelters run by nongovernmental organizations, but the government's contribution wouldn't be enough to finance the shelters alone. The shelters, which play major roles in helping victims of domestic violence, now get little support from government and operate on donations and a cadre of female volunteers. While billions of dollars of taxpayers' money has been poured into buildings, bridges and roads as "economic stimulus" measures, little money goes to help battered women, critics say. "Social problems like domestic violence are treated lightly in this country, while industrial development like the so-called IT (information technology) revolution is given top priority," said Yuriko Matsuzaki, director of AWC. Given the rising number of battered women fleeing violent husbands, the number of shelters in Japan is too small. The country has about 30 private shelters, compared with more than 1,200 in the United States, which has twice Japan's population.

Yasunori Ieda, an official of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, says the ministry has been well aware of an increasing number of battered women who seek help and refuge. "But it's difficult to build up the number of shelters immediately," he said. "We need to make sure that there is much demand. If there is, that makes it easier for us to appropriate them in the budget." Even if the legislation is passed, activists concede, there is still a long way to go to eliminate spousal abuse. "This is the beginning of the beginning. Law is only a part of it," said Keiko Kondo, who represents Women's Space On in Sapporo, northern Japan. "We should have more educational programs on violence against women in communities, workplace and schools."

"Placing the focus on domestic violence, we also should learn to respect one's human rights and build up a relationship of equality
between men and women," Mrs. Kondo said. Mrs. Komiyama has seen a lack of awareness as one of the biggest obstacles. "Many people still don't think that violence against women in the home is the violation of their human rights," she said. Not only couples themselves but also judges and police officers still see it as "a family matter." A spokesman for the National Police Agency said police more actively investigate and arrest violent husbands as more people become concerned about domestic violence. The number of such arrests from January to November 2000 rose to 996 from 516 in the same period of 1999, he added. There are few training and educational programs when it comes to domestic violence. Scholars and specialists say that, as in the United States, judges and police personnel should be trained to deal with the issue and its victims, and that doctors and nurses should report cases of domestic violence to the police or counseling centers. Counseling also should be provided to violent spouses like Shizue's husband, they add.

Copyright © Washington Times

Related link:

Asian Women's Center Fukuoka

=> http://www.amikas.or.jp/p01/index-e.html
In my own opinion🙂 a man who beats a lady or even strikes a lady requires some type of mental help!!, all men know that they are much stronger physically and this knowledge should not be put into practise for any reason!!
Any marriage thats has the physical abuse nature, Battered women/men should be put on hold and help should be readily available(in a perfect world)to deal with the abusive party, all abused parties have the right to protection and safety, after all it will only escalate till a life is threatened or a life is taken,
I agree with you, Debs. Well, we're all emotional at times, but I'd say that - irrespective of gender - anyone resorting to violence in order to solve conflicts needs to see a shrink.
A government survey done in 2000 showed that 27.5 % of wives have been beaten by their husbands, and 4.6 % of women in another study said spousal abuse had put them in a life-threatening situation

According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), 20 percent to 50 percent of women and girls around the world are on the receiving end of what the agency calls a "global epidemic" of violence by spouses or other family members.

I had no idea it was that bad. I personally have never heard of any cases of domestic violence in any country I have lived. There are sometimes a few in newspaper or on TV, that's all. I have a very large family if we count cousins and second cousins, but I have never heard of any such problem, when I should know it via family members. That must be that most of the 20 to 50% of wives in the world are outside Western Europe, as I believe there is not much difference between EU countries regarding domestic violence. Does any one have the figures for any Western country ? I thought that poverty would be a prime factor, but how does it explain the high occurence in Japan then ?
Taken from the web site of the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council:

The most common form of violence against women is domestic violence. The various statistics show that a woman is more likely to be attacked and beaten, even killed, by her partner or former partner than by any other person. Depending on the European country concerned, from 20% to more than 50% of women are victims of domestic violence. There is no typical identikit for a violent spouse. Domestic violence affects all sectors of society and all ages.

The various data obtained by the Council of Europe on this matter show clearly that the recorded number of cases of domestic violence has risen over the past decade. Yet this trend must not be interpreted as a real increase in the number of incidents. It seems more probable that women in the 1990s have approached the various public or associative structures for help more frequently.

I also don't know any case of domestic violence in my family or among my friends. But that's exactly the nature of these offences, they happen in clandestine.
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