Violence against Women: Positive Peace

EDITORIAL, 27 Mar 2017

#474 | Johan Galtung – TRANSCEND Media Service

L’Alfàs del Pi, Spain

Female emancipation, patriarchic family decline and femicide are with us, the femicide according to UN[i] particularly in Guatemala, Mexico and Australia-Canada-South Africa-USA. And here in Spain women are also killed by (ex)husbands and (ex)lovers: 44 by “their” men in 2016, 60 in 2015[ii], first two months of 2017 maybe 17[iii]. Why?

The couple is a mini-society; killing is a civil war.  Spain had a big civil war in 1936-1939; Franco’s goal was to recover normal Spain.  Could Spanish femicide be to recover the normal Spanish family? By men to the right politically, so numerous that the killing will continue?  A hypothesis. A pessimistic prognosis. Watch Colombia, a product of Spain still in the hands of the “real powers”, also killing women.

But was there ever something like the “normal Spanish family”?

Yes. In a feudal society based on land ownership and its military protection and expansion, the families of landowners and officers would be “normal”; as also the families of landworkers and soldiers.

But the poderes fácticos, the real powers, in Spain included the clergy precluded by celibacy from having families. Most “normal” was a landowner family with three sons: the coming landowner, a military, a priest. The poderes fácticos reproducing themselves as brothers.

And the women? Their task was to produce those three sons, and as many daughters as was inevitable. In addition to running the families.

Enters female emancipation as human right, to a vote in society, and to veto over whether to marry, whom, to have children, how many.

Enters the male reaction.  Talking with a few, the usual formula known from race and topdog-underdog relations in general, is spoken: if women come up they will treat us the same way as we treated them. Instead of patriarchy we will get matriarchy, some men say.

Not so, the women respond.  We want parity, sharing the good things and the bad, the dirty, the boring, the degrading.

This is where therapy enters, the general formula being parity. Except that the men must be told; and nobody did.  The government at all levels–state, autonomía, province, municipality–should have extolled parity socially, in the couple, sexually; explaining, exploring, celebrating. Being the products of vertical gender structures many men knew only verticality, fearing the alternative.  And the government failed.

To many men, women were property they had the right to destroy. Illegal, but they may have believed in a “law” above the legal code. Much order comes from law, but “structure” covers even more than law.

Parity means sharing the good and the bad.  Like sharing a job, eg. in a post-office, at a shop counter, or as both running that shop. Could start with two for the price of one, then two for an equal price for both.  The point is equal right to get outside the home, to meet people, contributing to social life through work, proposing changes to the better.  Joint creativity may be more than the sum of two.

Or as two separate careers meeting in the couple, exchanging experiences, having stories to tell for mutual enrichment.

And in the family not only eating together, but sharing cooking, washing, doing the dishes, the garbage jobs.  Does not have to be mathematically equal but with elements of both for both so that they know what social and family life look like as seen by their partners.

Police-lawyers-courts may prevent the bad, not build the good.

Take a key part of family life: the meals.  Make the tables round so that there is no “head of the table”–traditionally the patriarch. Have conversation like in a party, everybody has the right to talk and the duty to listen, but not too long, coming to the point quickly.

Take a key part of social life: public space.  Have street names honoring women, not only men.  And as to monuments: please, not the man on horseback, wielding death.  Have monuments to women giving birth to a new life.  Show happy families, united equitably in meals, around the house.

The basic point is to open the male mind to a “we together” for better marriages, also to change their “us vs them” mentality. Better than treating women as maids-prostitutes paid in “security” currency for doing the dishes, washing, caring for babies, children, the sick and the old together, and sharing their gratitude. Unemployment may offer an opportunity to do more together and should be used.

Then sex, interaction indeed! Togetherness.  What does equity mean, concretely?  Not the man entering when it pleases him, doing it, rolling over, asleep, snoring–leaving the woman grossly unsatisfied.  By taking time, half an hour not only minutes, slowly, postponing the final ejaculation or portioning it. Learning from Chinese culture.

Or, forget about the Chinese.  It is not that complicated.  Face to face, deep kissing, he deep inside her, moving gently and being gently squeezed, just enjoying, and enjoying the joy of the partner. Show it, say it.  Double, shared joy, is at least triple joy.

We need information, propaganda. Full page ads in newspapers is a way actually used in Norway for advanced sex education, not only about risks and dangers, but about pleasures and parity; a page to tear out.   Media would be media-ting, not only between State, Capital and Civil Society but deep inside civil society where relations between man and woman may be at their worst. Both know that the other has read it and is party to the same insight. Time has come for let us sit down, talk.

We will progress, from civil war–the man-woman faultline in society and inside couples–to civil peace, negatively by reducing violence, and positively by building positive peace in couples.

Do not wait for things to take care of themselves. They will not.

Female lives matter!  Time for action is overdue.  But even a late now is better than never. There are many lives to be saved.

An optimistic prognosis: femicide can be ended by 2050, not by critique and punishment, but by alternatives satisfying both genders.


[i].  UNWOMEN, Fast Facts statistics on violence against women and girls

[ii]Spania-Posten 6 Jan 17

[iii]. In some cases the man committed suicide, possibly as a man-woman suicide pact in what they saw as a hopeless situation.


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment and rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. Prof. Galtung has published 1670 articles and book chapters, over 470 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service, and 167 books on peace and related issues, of which 41 have been translated into 35 languages, for a total of 135 book translations, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 27 Mar 2017.

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