Saturday, June 6, 2009

Domestic Violence in Japan

From Asahi Shimbun:
Domestic violence victims often find it hard to ask for help--especially older women, who often believe that "women must be patient," say people working to help them.

Experts suspect that Japan has many "hidden" cases of domestic violence, as problems lurk deep inside seemingly normal relationships.

In fiscal 2007, of 5,121 victims of domestic violence placed under temporary protection nationwide, 269 were 60 or older, an Asahi Shimbun survey found. The newspaper gathered the figures from women's consultation centers run by each of the nation's 47 prefectures.

The total victims figure is from 46 prefectures, while the age figure was from the 45 prefectures that list data by age. In Tokushima Prefecture, 10 out of 44 victims, or more than 20 percent, were 60 or older.

Abuse of the aged is being recognized more clearly in Japan.

1 comment:

Andrew Grimes JSCCP, JCP said...

A good and interesting report. Although the report does well in focusing on the long known problem of the abuse of elderly women it it may be worth contrasting it with other recent reports that show that since 2001, when the first law against domestic violence was enacted in Japan, Japanese women are less and less willing to "believe that women must be patient".

Here, as in any other country in the world historically, there has been domestic violence in all types of societies, not in the least of course in societies and cultures that have taken a sexist ('paternalistic') view that women were not as equal as men and could be beaten and suffer abuse at the hands of their husbands.

Now, thanks to the work of volunteer women's groups and activist lawyers in Japan who have worked hard against this problem of violence against women and children in their homes, the Japanese government enacted the Act on the Prevention of Spousal Violence and the Protection of Victims in 2001. This was the first official recognition by Japanese politicians and law makers in Japanese history that domestic violence is in fact a crime. As a first step it was an important recognition of the widespread problem of spousal violence against women in Japanese homes throughout Japan. However there was considerable criticism that the low financial fines on Japanese husbands who attack their wives and the limit of only 1 month long restraining orders on men who abused their wives and children did not go far enough to provide Japanese women with a credible degree of legal protection and safety from further violent attacks. The law was revised to some extent in 2004 but still met with criticism as not going far enough to protect the victims of domestic and also for not focusing on the men who are being violent toward their wives and children:

Amendments to the Domestic Violence Prevention Act were passed and became law in July 2007 but did not receive so much attention in the media as would have been desirable:

However more and more Japanese women are taking action in Japan and, like the women featured in the video above, are no longer to suffer without protest former generations have had to do without any effective legal protection. The following links are to articles on domestic violence and National Police Agency reports that have appeared in the media this year that show that modern Japanese women in 21st century Japan are standing up against violent husbands and using the existing laws to protect themselves and their children:

These brave women need and deserve stronger and even more effective legal protection for themselves and the children they are trying to protect from their own fathers hands. There needs also to be considerable public and national political will focused on providing Japanese wives and partners with safe emergency residences and legally protected abuse shelters. I think it is also of vital importance that serious decisions to provide and implement official funding to ensure that refuge and protection to all women who are suffering domestic violence of all forms.