Violence Works (at home and abroad)

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Child holds a sign calling for justice at the annual April 24 protest Genocide protest in Los Angeles. April 24, 2009

That is, quite sadly, the bitter lesson of the unilateral surrender of rights, security, and dignity being forced upon the poor, landlocked and blockaded country of Armenia by Ankara, with the help of its eager allies in Washington.

For those outside of the Armenian community and unfamiliar with the history of Turkey’s genocide of the Armenian people, this lesson may not be readily apparent. In fact, from all outward appearances, it may seem to folks far from this matter that two nations coming together is an altogether positive development.

As both an ethical and practical matter, however, we owe it to ourselves and the people of this region, to encourage a closer look at the facts on the ground, the nature of the actors, and the actual dynamics at play in this situation.

We can, perhaps, offer some useful insight into this issue through a rough analogy – a flawed one to be sure – but one that, at the very least, offers a different, more personal level, perspective on this matter.

The analogy deals with domestic abuse.

To a casual observer, it might appear, on the surface, to be a worthwhile aim to reconcile a separated couple.

By this simple logic, anything that brings the couple together is good, and anything that holds them apart is, by definition, bad.

That is, until you look into the facts, which, in all too many cases, involves not a disagreement between equally empowered spouses, but rather violence perpetrated by one upon the other. Typically a husband who assaults his wife.

Then everything changes.

At that point, we leave the world of “working things out” and enter the world of justice. Our duty is no longer to reconcile, but to protect.

Or that’s the way it should be.

But sadly, it’s not.

For every instance in which justice is served and a batterer punished, there are many others in which the beaten wife is forced to submit to a life of violence and intimidation. Left alone, isolated, and vulnerable, she is beaten into accepting fear as the status quo and cruelty as a fact of life.

There are, in these cases, unfortunately, no shortage of those, including, all too often relatives, friends, and even the police themselves, who push such couples to get back together – very often pressuring the victimized wife to give her assailant a second chance.

Family members, out of ignorance, fear, or a misguided sense of propriety, sometimes prioritize the outward appearance of normalcy over the actual presence of security for their daughter, sister, or niece.

These “peacemakers” are effectively enablers of violence. Sometimes because they are genuinely unaware, but also, in many instances, because they choose to remain willfully ignorant of the wife-beater’s brutality and the power imbalance and toxic environment of intimidation that this violence creates.

It’s no excuse that the victim may herself, as is so often the case, wave away the police or tell family and friends that everything’s fine. We have no right to turn a blind eye when the life and safety of a fellow human is at stake. Our moral burden does not end when a victim accepts her victimization.

There is only one answer to a wife-beater.

It is not dialogue.

It is not to turn a blind eye.

It is not to pressure the victim into silence.

It is – very simply – justice.

Justice that protects the victim, deters future violence, and sends a powerful signal that domestic violence will be swiftly and severely punished.

Anything less represents a disservice to all victims, an encouragement to all perpetrators, and a danger to all society.

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2 Comments

  1. gayane said:

    AMEN TO THAT!

    Well said Aram.. great comparison between ARmenia and Turkey and US and Sweden and Russia by using the example of domestic violence…

    G

  2. manooshag said:

    Hye, Justice for the victim… Since the perpetrator lacks humanity, knows only violence, to cause pain to the victim.
    Hence, in domestic violence – all violence, – upon recognition these shall be swiftly and severely punished else
    this perpetrator will believe he is powerful and in control to do with as he wishes to the victim. Manooshag

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