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Violence against young women

by Phil Bartle, PhD

Training Handout


In the discussion on inequality, specifically inequality of gender, there is a topic of violence towards women.

It can also be discussed as part of any discussion on crime and deviance.

Most of the literature in feminist sociology is focused on male violence towards females.

Other violence, by women against women, and by women against men has very little attention paid to it.

Its absence in the literature does not necessarily mean its absence in life.

Female circumcision is special because it is a form of violence that is approved by the societies in which it is practised.

About 183 million women have undergone such mutilation.

The geographic areas of practice include North East Africa and parts of the Middle East.

Although it is illegal in Canada, it is practised by immigrants from those areas.

For the most part, men do not involve themselves in the practice, and its greatest supporters are women in the communities affected.

It contributes to the spread of HIV/AIDS and other STDs because non sterile instruments are used (usually a piece of glass or a kitchen knife).

It is seen in the communities as a practice which makes girls less interested in sex, more docile, therefore more attractive as a wife, although western medicine can not support that belief.

It is much more painful than male circumcision, and usually involves the removal of much more tissue and the sewing closed, or partially closed, of the vagina.

Unlike violence perpetrated by males, it is a violence perpetrated by the communities themselves.

Although found in societies characterised by Islam, it is not approved by the Koran, and there is a prohibition against mutilation or harming the body.

Its practice preceded Islam, apparently, for thousands of years.

See my training document aimed at community workers working to delete the practice from their communities.

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