Violence against women in rural settings
This chapter explores violence against women in rural settings. It argues that violence against women in rural settings is enabled by oppressive social norms and relations. These social norms shape intimate relationships in ways that make women vulnerable to violence. They include rigid gender roles and the privatization and tolerance of violence. Contrary to stereotypical images of rural communities, the nature of social relations in rural communities has increased women’s vulnerability to violence. Multiple bonded ties create barriers to women gaining or seeking support to escape violence. This chapter adopts Lori Heise’s ecological framework (1998; Heise, Ellsberg and Gottmoeller, 2002), conceptualizing violence against women ‘as a multifaceted phenomenon grounded in an interplay among personal, situational, and socio-cultural factors’ (1998: 263-4). Not only does this interplay cause violence against women in rural settings it also perpetuates the silence and inadequate response to this violence. Violence against women in many rural settings is still condoned, despite over thirty years of feminist activism. Whilst this chapter adopts Heise’s ecological framework it needs to be acknowledged that there are other ways of understanding violence against women which are explored in Barbara Fawcett’s chapter and in Jude Irwin’s chapter.