Perceiving and combating gender based and domestic violence: a case study in Tarija, Bolivia.
(2013) Perceiving and combating gender based and domestic violence: a case study in Tarija, Bolivia., no. 57.
Background: Domestic violence against women constitutes an extremely relevant problem worldwide. Nevertheless, in many contexts prevails the social acceptance of the phenomenon and its normalization. The guidelines for interventions dedicated to combating domestic violence suggest, in this regard, to analyze it not as a phenomenon in itself, but as an integral part of the broader sociocultural background that constitutes gender relations within the society taken into account. This theoretical intention, however, is often difficult to translate into practice. In my research I investigated the recognition of the socio-political dimensions of gender violence in the concrete activities of a structure working in the field of violence against women in Tarija (Bolivia). Objective: Through an anthropological perspective, I analyzed the ways in which domestic violence is perceived, analyzed and addressed by women working in the safe house of the Association Mujeres en Acción. The research's objective is to investigate the extent to which the work with victims of violence is connected, in the concrete daily activities, with the stated objectives of deconstructing the asymmetrical social gender relations. Furthermore, this study aims to contribute to the body of knowledge on interventions in the field of gender violence, identifying certain practical difficulties which may exist in the actual management of the work. Methodology: In this research I used a qualitative methodology. I conducted a field work, composed of participant observation and semi-structured interviews, typical of the ethno-anthropological method. Results and conclusion: The work of the shelter of the association is characterized by a significant lack of cohesion concerning the objectives of the project, and the ways in which gender violence is perceived by its workers. Although the official project of the Association Mujeres en Acción recognizes the importance of the socio-political dimensions of violence against women, and to work towards a larger impact on gender relations, in practice these dimensions are poorly recognized. The interviews show that the work of the shelter house is focused on the achievement of economic independence and on the psychological support to the young women victims of violence; however, there are few opportunities for their actual empowerment and agency. This affects in important ways on the work with the beneficiaries of the project, especially as often it fails to reduce their future vulnerability to further experiences of violence. Keywords: Gender based and domestic violence, symbolic violence, normalization of violence, gender relations, and strategies of combating violence against women.