Law which penalizes violence against women cannot act by itself


As claimed by Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Researcher and Professor of the UNal Center for Social Studies Miryam Jimeno, when she explained that use of violence in society is linked to exercising coercion and domination over a social group or particular individual.

Jimeno recalls that historically women have been intimidated by domestic violence and for a long time it was lawful for a husband, father or brothers to have authority and use violence every time they considered the actions or behavior of women inappropriate. This came to the extent that it could even lead to the death of women; the so called crime of passion, was admitted and inclusively celebrated, sung and turned into poetry as an act of defending honor and the good name of a family.

In her historic journey, Jimeno shows that slowly and throughout the twentieth century, western society’s violence against women began to be questioned as part of profound changes in social matters. Violence against women ‘legitimacy’ was totally banned and progressive legislation was passed around the world and also in Colombia penalizing use of violence against women and children.

A recent example of this slow but secure transformation was the presidential sanctioning of a law against femicide, a new term used to refer to crimes against women due to their feminine condition.

Therefore the hideous crime against Rosa Elvira Cely, occurred in Bogotá was used as a symbolic condemnation and repair for achieving approval of Act 1761 of July 6 of 2015, law which was named in her honor.

The law says that people who commit crimes of this nature and circumstances will be sentenced to prison between 250 and 500 months; it also sets limitations to benefits and prearrangements to people convicted of crimes of abuse or violence against women.

Old habits die hard

Despite the progress, a recent report of the Department of the Medical Examiner shows that between January and February of 2015, 126 women were killed, 13 by their current partner or former significant other; 2,631 were assessed at this department for signs of alleged sexual assault. Regarding domestic violence, 735 girls and women were victims of abuse from a family member or caretaker and 6,269 from domestic violence. With respect to women older than 60 years of age, 119 were physically assaulted and 1,482 were victims of violence carried out by other family members.

“Old habits die hard, and these are harder because they are deeply rooted habits and beliefs in women and in men-women relationships. This is learned in early childhood in both genders and is embedded in the individual psyche in form of affective valuations on the desirable, forbidden, beautiful or repugnant. Every joke or story that we hear on feminine weakness or maliciousness makes an impression on both men and women, and that is how we learn to interact amongst ourselves,” said Jimeno.

Therefore every time we look the other way or belittle a child that hurts or strikes brothers, sisters or friends or every time we see it at home, on TV, or in the movies, this behavior is glorified and men which use violence are made heroes, keeping the relationship between masculinity and violence.

“Violent actions are not a result of a sudden emotional attack, as emotion and reason are interrelated, they are linked and mutually conditioned and comprise the motivation for human actions,” added Jimeno, in a review of the recently published “Microhistories of Transgression” from Max S. Hering.

“Lastly, the law against femicide as well as other regulations which penalize violence against women or interfamily domestic violence cannot make the change by themselves if we do not reeducate small everyday actions,” said Professor Jimeno.

Agencia de Noticias UNAL |

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