||49 Practical Activities and Methods for Human
Rights Education > Domestic Affairs
" (...) the police always come late
/ if they come at all."
||Gender Equality, Peace
and Violence, Health
|| 6 - 30
||This activity looks at domestic violence as one of the most
common and least spoken about forms of violence.
- The right to protection from violence, torture and
- The right to equality and non-discrimination.
- The right to equal protection by the law (or to fair
treatment from the courts)
- To raise awareness of domestic violence and knowledge
about violations of women's human rights
- To develop skills of discussing and analysing human
- To promote empathy and the self-confidence to take
a stand against domestic violence
- Large sheets of paper or a board and pens or markers
for the brainstorm and group work.
- Choose one or more of the "Crime witness reports"
below or write your own. Make enough copies for one per
- Copies of the "Guidelines for group discussions"
(one per small group
- Compile information about existing centres and organisations
active in the support of victims of domestic violence
and find out what the main issues are in your local community
- Consider carefully the issues you wish to work on,
taking into account the personal experiences of the participants.
- Prepare the group for the activity by conducting a brainstorm
of "the most common forms of violence in our neighbourhood".
Write down everything that the participants say but do not discuss
anything at this stage. Leave the flipchart or board where everyone
can see it. (10 minutes)
- Ask people to get into small groups of between two and six
people per group. There should be at least three groups.
- Hand out the copies of the "Crime witness report"
cards. There are three different cards/cases but the same case
may be given to more than one group. Also hand out a copy of
the "Guidelines for group discussions".
- Give participants five minutes to read through the crime
witness reports. Stress that their discussions should be focused
on these case studies. Participants should be aware that discussions
about these issues can be very personal and that no one should
feel under pressure to disclose more than they want.
- Allow the participants one hour for their group work.
- At the end, come into plenary and move on to the evaluation
Debriefing and evaluation
Start with a short review of how the group work went. How realistic
were the crime witness reports and how relevant were the questions?
If different groups worked with different case studies, let the
groups feedback on their analyses of the different crimes. Then
go on to talk about the transfer to social reality:
- How prevalent is domestic violence in your community and
in your country as a whole?
- Which human rights are at stake?
- What are the causes of domestic violence?
- Why is it that there are more cases of men being violent
towards women than of women being violent towards men?
- How can domestic violence be stopped? What could/should be
- the public authorities?
- the local community?
- the people involved?
- friends and neighbours?
- Check the output of the groups and the points raised in discussion
against the list from the initial brainstorm. Was domestic violence
on the list? If not, why not?
- What other forms of violence against women have come up in
the course of the discussion? Add them to the list.
Ask if anyone would like to work further on any of the issues
raised and discuss how they would like to follow up or take action.
Tips for facilitators
Be aware of issues of sensitivity and anonymity/privacy (some
participants may have personal experiences of domestic violence
at home or in the family). Make it clear to everyone that no one
should feel under pressure to disclose more than they want. You
should feel free to adapt the activity according to the concerns
of the participants.
The activity is called "domestic affairs" because
most acts of violence against women occur in the home or between
people who are in a relationship. One of the most common forms
of domestic violence is that of physical violence, which is why
these particular "Crime witness reports" were chosen.
The stories are all based on actual cases about real victims and
crimes. You may want to change some of the details or to substitute
other case studies in order to make the activity more relevant
to your local situation and the concerns of the participants.
People's opinions will vary in what they consider constitutes
an act of violence. The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence
Against Women, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly
in 1993, defines violence against women as "any act of
gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result
in, physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women,
including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation
of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life".
It encompasses, but is not limited to, "physical, sexual
and psychological violence occurring in the family, including
battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related
violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional
practices harmful to women; non-spousal violence and violence
related to exploitation; physical, sexual and psychological violence
occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual
abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational
institutions and elsewhere; trafficking in women and forced prostitution;
and physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or
condoned by the state, wherever it occurs."
If you have difficulties in finding out about your local support
centres, there is a database of centres at the European Information
Centre Against Violence web-site: www.wave-network.org.
Male participants may react strongly to the activity or some
of the discussions. It is important to bear in mind that the purpose
is not to make men or boys feel guilty for what other men do;
however, it is important to acknowledge, or discuss, the idea
that men are part of an oppressive patriarchal system and thus
play a part in it. In this context, it may also be interesting
to explore the consequences of violence against women on men,
directly and indirectly.
You may wish to end the session with a minute's silence for
the victims of domestic violence. It is a powerful way to close
the activity and promote empathy and solidarity.
There are many forms of violence against women (see below under
"further information"). You can develop your own case
studies to explore any of the other aspects of the issue.
Suggestions for follow-up
The group could get in touch with the local police and find
out what they do when they receive calls for help in cases of
domestic violence. Another possibility is to contact their nearest
women's help organisation or centre and invite a speaker to present
facts and figures about the situation in their local community.
Another almost taboo subject in many countries is sexuality
- and homosexuality in particular. If the group would like to
explore these issues, they could look at the activity "Let's
talk about sex".
Alternatively, you may like to go on to discuss aspects of gender equality through an activity that looks at how social and economic factors diminish or raise the possibilities of success for women. In the activity, "Portraits" in the all different all equal education pack people are asked to draw identity-kit pictures of social winners and social losers.
Contact a local women's refuge or information centre or an organisation
working for women's rights and find out what their needs are and
how you can help them.
A universal challenge to human rights