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I have been spending some time in a women’s refuge. No not
because I need protection, but because they have done me the great honour of
asking me to be a trustee for them.
It is a sad place, where staff do their utmost to cheer things up. There are
children of various ages and temperaments. Some look at you with haunted eyes
,and some are boisterous and bouncy and play noisily.
What surprised me most was the fact that a lot of women seek
refuge because they have been emotionally abused. Am told that emotional abuse
is far harder to overcome, than physical
scars. It seems that some men do this by making the woman believe that she is
incapable of coping with life. Simple things like filling forms, applying for a
job, managing money or even going shopping are not allowed. But of course the
oppressor just doesn’t exert this control, but there are threats, jealousy ill
treatment of other kinds too. The victim is ground down and her self belief is shattered.
As I come from a culture which is very patriarchal, where
men normally men take care of all the above, and women are told not worry their
pretty head about it. As a result most Asian women accept this as the part of
the package which is their life.
Am interested to know if the western women treated in such a
manner at anytime and how was this viewed by the society?
There are so many cultural practices around the world which
can not be seen as “normal” outside of their culture. Am beginning to wonder if
this is the basis of the wider gulf
which exists between cultures?
I have seen the feminist movement grow and flourish not just
here but in the Asian countries too. Women are taking control of their lives
and making great progress.
Where is the dividing line though? If a man tries to protect
his woman by taking charge of all the external affairs is he controlling her or
is he taking care of her? Of course am not talking of the women who are so harassed
that they seek shelter in a refuge. But what about the ordinary folks?
So should the modern woman be concerned if she doesn’t have
absolute control of every aspect of her married life? Is it insulting if the
man wants to take control of money, driving, shopping and form filling?
I do know that Asian women consider this as the norm and are
happy for this situation, make them backward and ill informed, or is this another
one of those things that we don’t understand about each others culture?