Gender-based violence is regarded as the most prevalent human rights violation globally. This is because the violation fails to consider the social, national, or economic boundaries which are in place in a given nation. Their global estimation of women who experience gender-based violence across the globe is one in every three women. This population often experiences abuse physically or sexually, and that undermines their dignity, autonomy, and health. Despite this, gender-based violence has remained shrouded because of the culture of silence within most societies. The history of gender-based violence dates back to the colonial era. It was a growing trend in North America, where women were highly criminalized because of their pregnancy outcomes. This paper examines the myths of culture among the Pacific and Asians, how they promoted gender-based administrative violence, the historical background of gender-based administration violence, and the types of strategies used to ensure gender-based violence and its long-term effects on the people.
Myths About the Culture of the Pacific and Asians and How They Promoted Gender-based Administrative Violence
One of the myths in these two cultures is that the culture before colonization was matrilineal. That man is that people respected and loved one another, and women had a better position in society. This is, however, untrue because the fact that a society is matrilineal does not mean that that society will be exempted from patriarchal systems. The matrilineal structures play a vital role in the decision-making process as they always decide the approaches and time of inheritance of land and other forms of wealth. Therefore, one may not fully argue that the colonialists were completely responsible for the oppression of women during the society since the society also contributed to this issue (Makarem et al., 2019). The other myth is that the Pacific and Asian cultures never experienced violence against women before the colonial period. The truth is that even though the people co-existed harmoniously, the people contributed significantly to defining the role of women within society. The identified traditional roles of women within society involve having women take care of the houses and family and focusing more on the happiness of their children instead of empowering themselves. The colonialists only emphasized this fact by passing laws promoting a culture that existed even before their reign. In addition, a myth indicates that colonization is the root of the different forms of violence among women as experienced in society. Even though colonialism is an important aspect of oppression, it is not the major cause of violence experienced among women. Both the male and females suffered the impacts of colonization. The only difference is that it was worse for women because of the structure of their societies at the time.
During the colonial period, gender-based administrative forms of violence were common because of the different strategies used by the colonialists to control the colonized nations and continue with their dominance. These forms of violence were targeted toward different individuals based on their gender, resulting in greater inequalities and reinforcement of the structures of colonial powers. Historically, the implementation of colonial powers involved the establishment of rigid norms of gender and hierarchies as a component of the system of governance (Ruíz & Berenstain, 2018). All these norms had a deep root within the ideas of patriarchy that resulted in women’s oppression and marginalization while simultaneously reinforcing male control and authority. Such an imposition of the gender norms of the colonialists accelerated during that era, leading to new forms of oppression and violence.
One form of gender-based administrative violence during the era was imposing policies and laws that discriminated against women. Some laws and policies were related to education, and such laws prevented women from accessing education by prioritizing the education of men. There were nations in the South where women were denied access to education programs. In other countries, the colonialists allowed women to be educated, but they were offered minimal opportunities for the same (Gutiérrez-Zamora, 2021). This resulted in greater disparities in literacy rates among different genders, which affected women’s social and economic advancement at the time. Some laws prevented women from participating actively in politics. Colonial powers at the time excluded women from actively participating in the political processes.
A good example is the British colonial administration, which had categorized its territories as limiting women’s suffrage by denying them their freedom to participate in an elective process or hold any public office. The exclusion of women from politics was a common practice in various colonies, undermining their capacity to shape the systems of governance and policies. Property rights laws also denied women the freedom to own or inherit any property. A good example is in India, where Britain’s passed the Hindu widow remarriage act of 1856 that prevented women from owning and inheriting properties (Mak et al., 2020). This law left most of the women financially vulnerable after their spouses’ death. In addition, labor laws subjected women to exploitative labor within the mines, plantations, or domestic services. Women always faced extremely low wages, hazardous workplace conditions, and long work hours. They were also vulnerable to sexual and physical abuse from their colonial employers and other workplace officials. All these resulted in marginalization and economic vulnerability of the women.
The colonialists also used gender-based administrative violence to erode culture and exert control over the people. The Indigenous cultural practices and knowledge systems always gave the women some influence and autonomy. However, these systems were suppressed, and women were devalued. Indigenous women were highly targeted because they were assimilated and forced to assimilate the colonialists’ culture (Makarem et al., 2019). This affected the women negatively as they lost their traditional knowledge of ecology, which involved the sustainable approaches towards management of the land, conservation of resources, and preservation of biodiversity. The erosion of these forms of knowledge resulted in the degradation of their environment because of the loss of valuable insights seeking to address contemporary ecological issues. The emotional and mental health of the women was also affected because of the loss of cultural identity, support from the community systems, and the connection that women had with the traditions of their ancestors. This created a feeling of loss and anxiety among the women as most lost their purpose. Some women experienced some sense of dissonance in culture, which caused them to have challenges reconciling with their heritage and the dominating cultural influences. In addition, cultural assimilation also resulted in intergenerational trauma because the impacts of the loss of culture and disruption of the knowledge that could have been passed to the subsequent generations were eroded. This causes a diminished form of community and self within society.
During the colonial era, anti-colonial movements emerged seeking to eradicate the practice from society. The movements were formed to challenge the oppressive colonialists’ structures and ensure the reclamation of women’s identity and rights, culture, and livelihood (Gutiérrez-Zamora, 2021). A good example is the indigenous women’s movement, such as the American Indian Movement (AIM), which sought to empower indigenous women by addressing the challenges that they experienced. There were also anti-colonial movements that were formed to end the fight against colonial oppression and seek women’s independence. Such movements participated actively in challenging the overarching structures of power which promoted violence and discrimination among women. A good example is the Indian National Congress which Mahatma Gandhi led.
Colonial Power and Strategies Used and Their Impacts
There were various strategies of gender-based violence during the colonial era, which were intertwined with other types of violence like cultural imperialism, economic exploitation, and racism (Ruíz & Berenstain, 2018). These forms of violence were always intertwined, which deepened the effect they had on women’s lives because they generated systems characterized by inequality and oppression. One of the forms of violence was Rape and sexual violence, which was common among the indigenous women. The women were always subjected to Rape and other forms of sexual violence by the colonialists and soldiers who were using it to ensure domination, humiliation, and control.
The colonialists used the ethnocultural superiority strategy to promote gender-based administrative violence during the colonial era. This involves believing in cultural or ethnic superiority over other cultural groups (Stucki, 2020). This strategy was manifested in the form of prejudice by justifying colonialism of the countries, creating divisions and other rule policies, enacting frameworks that promoted women’s discrimination, and scientific racism. It was also manifested through creating some sense of privilege or entitlement based on cultural identity. Ethno-cultural superiority promoted marginalization and discrimination among women, manifested in the barriers preventing them from competing for social, political, and economic opportunities with men.
The other strategy is differentiation, which involves deliberately categorizing and treating various individuals or groups because of gender, which is the major perceived difference. This strategy was manifested through the divide-and-rule approach, which involved pitting the male and females against one another through the elevation of masculine roles and oppression of women. The divisions weakened the collective resistance approaches, leading to women’s marginalization and exposing them to exploitation and violence (Makarem et al., 2019). The colonialists also created racial hierarchies, making them appear superior to the Pacific and Asian people. This made it easier for them to justify their dominance and their reasons for exploiting other nations. In addition, colonialists used their powers as a justification for economic exploitation. These powers enhanced the differentiation of economic opportunities and allowed the colonizers to extract useful resources from the nations. It also made them exploit labor even as they kept the colonized communities subservient, as most were associated with low wages and exploiting labor. This made it easier for them to reinforce inequalities and power imbalances among the locals.
The colonialists also used all forms of violence to promote gender-based administrative violence. These forms of violence were manifested through various physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological approaches. The communities had to learn the culture of their colonizers and speak their language to be understood well. They were also forced to work as laborers, meaning they had to be separated from their families and culture (Gutiérrez-Zamora, 2021). This resulted in anxiety among the women who spent a long time without meeting their husbands. The children also grew up with absent parents, affecting their overall growth. In addition to this, the colonialists used the approach of controlling economic resources as a vital strategy to enhance gender-based administration violence. This involved extraction of resources as the colonialists always exploited the existing natural resources within the colonized territories for their benefit. They equally managed to establish various extractive industries such as logging, agriculture, and mining, allowing them to exploit some of the valuable resources and raw materials. The industries were operated by various colonial companies or under the direct control of the colonial administrators, with all the profits being taken by the colonizers. This was oppressive to the women working tirelessly on the farms receiving minimal wages and being exploited as they could not make enough money to meet their domestic requirements. In addition, the colonialists were controlling the financial systems so that those systems could serve their financial interests. This caused them to manipulate the currency exchange rates, impose a restrictive regulation of finances, and direct the capital flow to ensure it benefited the colonialists (Mak et al., 2020). This made the colonizers constantly extract wealth, which prevented the development of independent economic institutions in their colonies and prevented women from growing their finances.
A good example is Hawaii, whose citizens need to understand the notion of owning land, and that caused them to lose lots of land. Many women also gave up their wealth unwillingly and their community ties because of miscalculations on the value of their assets and the benefits of clinging to those assets. This left them with nothing as they had to beg around or work overtime for minimal wages.
The other strategy was cultural control. This involved patrolling the existing boundaries which the colonialists had established. This approach aimed to enforce the norms and customs of patriarchy, which are restrictive of the freedoms of the community members. One of the approaches through which this form of violence was manifested is in the enforcement of gender roles and societal expectations. Cultural control is known for enforcing rigid roles for the different gender and expectations, which assign women subordinate roles that limit opportunities (Stucki, 2020). The colonialists used this approach to restrict women’s autonomy and access to employment and education. The other manifestation was moral shaming and policing, which was common among the women who had deviated from the existing cultural norms or those who engaged in activities perceived as immoral or indecent. Such women were subjected to public shaming and social ostracization, which affected the women emotionally. This form of violence reinforced the idea that women’s bodies and their behaviors must be regulated at all times and controlled by the norms of patriarchy.
Lastly, the colonialists excluded the natives from accessing power. This strategy was manifested in the form of the absence of a representative among the natives. Exclusion from power implied that women’s perspectives, experiences, and needs were constantly ignored. It could also mean that women were never involved in policy development or governance (Eger, 2021). The absence of women in leadership resulted in a cycle of development of policies that failed to address the challenges which women experienced. This left them susceptible and marginalized to different forms of violence in the colonial era. The other manifestation was political and legal exclusion which involved colonial administrators implementing policies and laws which discriminated against women systematically by excluding them from active participation in politics, elections, and governance. This reinforced the subordinate status of the women, created a culture of vulnerability to discrimination and violence, and undermined their voice within society.
In conclusion, the evidence of this study indicates that various forms of gender violence, such as emotional, physical, sexual, and psychological violence characterized the colonial era. These forms of violence were perpetuated differently through strategies such as economic exploitation, power exclusion, and cultural control, which reinforced patriarchal practices and norms. Overall, it generated a profound and enduring consequence for the women in society as they were always left behind and dragged into the mad. The impacts of these forms of violence are still in the current societies, characterized by inequalities, power imbalances, and social injustices. Therefore, understanding the historical context of this form of violence at the time of colonialism is vital in ensuring an in-depth understanding of various challenges in society today, as well as informing the efforts to achieve justice and equality among women. Therefore, it is important to address the legacy of gender-based violence from the perspective of the colonialists as it will help challenge the existing oppressive structures and norms, empower women economically and politically, and promote cultural and legal transformation in society. Such is because the new approaches will dismantle the patriarchal systems and ensure that women get to participate in the decision-making process. This is the right step towards prioritizing the overall well-being and women’s rights. The other beneficial approach involves accepting the historical realities surrounding gender-based violence during the colonial era, where women were free from oppression, discrimination, and violence.
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