Despite women are of higher status socially in many countries than before, it is found that domestic violence against women is still a universal problem. This paper will explore the phenomenon gender-based violence in Hong Kong as compared to the global situation.
An extensive literature review was conducted to explore the existing theories and risk factors associated with domestic violence. A qualitative study of women victims was then undertaken to gain further insight on the current gender-based violence situation in Hong Kong. In the discussion, the limitations of the study were examined and the results were compared of with literature findings.
..” Gender-based violence is not random violence. Being female is the risk factor by itself. Though not exclusively, most of the violence against women takes place within families and the perpetrator are almost exclusively men, usually intimate to the woman.
Local Phenomenon of Gender-based Violence
An increasing number of domestic violence incidents is associated with the rapid demographic, social, and economic changes in Hong Kong. The number of newly reported battered spouse cases increased more than double fold from 3,371 in 2004 to 6,843 in 2008, with 81.5% of victims being female (Social Welfare Department 2004, 2008). This represents only the iceberg because it is estimated that a large proportion of victims choose to keep silence. The problem attracted public attention on 11th April, 2004 when a man committed suicide after killing her daughters and wife at Tin Shu Wai. Before the tragedy occurred, the wife had reported being battered by her husband to the Social Welfare Department repeatedly. The case has alerted the Government to announce ‘zero tolerance’ policy on domestic violence.
According to a survey conducted by Chan Ko Ling (2000), 50.5% of the battered women endured the situation for as long as six years. This reflects a high degree of tolerance over the problem by women. In another study on 1,695 victims presented with intimate partner violence to the emergency department of Tuen Mun Hospital during years 1999 to 2004, it was found that the overall male-to-female ratio was 1:7, exhibiting a strong gender predisposition (Lau & et al, 2008). Approximately 10% had been abused once before, and 40% more than twice.
The purpose of this study is to examine the causes of domestic violence in Hong Kong, especially in the gender-related perspective.
Four Levels of Analysis of Domestic Violence
The issue of domestic violence can be analyzed from four different levels: the micro-level analysis, the meso-level analysis, the macro-level and the multidimensional analysis (Kurst-Swanger & Petcosky, 2003).
The micro-level analysis is often referred to as the medical model. It views family violence as the result of the psychopathology of individual family members e.g. mental illness, personality disorder, alcoholism etc. At its emergence in 1960s, domestic violence was thought to be a rare occurrence due to some psychopathology of an individual family member.
The meso-level analysis adopts a sociopsychological model. It integrates family patterns and relationships between individual family members to explain domestic violence. It examines the structure and organization of the family, as well as the environmental factors that affect the whole family system. Some of the theories employed are the traumatic bonding theory, the stress theory, and the resource theory.
The macro-level analysis views domestic violence under sociocultural models, basing on theories that center on socially...