Deconstructing Domesutikku Baiorensu : through the voices of foremothers and forefathers of the domestic violence movement in Japan

Arai, Meiko
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2013]
Domestic violence is a widely documented type of gender violence and an epidemic social problem that affects millions of women, gravely violating their human rights. Globally, movements opposing domestic violence have been catalysts in shifting what had historically been considered as a non-issue or private phenomenon into a social problem. The change, however, has occurred unevenly over time and space, accompanied by a variety of social, legal, and even linguistic issues. This dissertation investigates the social construction of domestic violence in Japan--including key language choices--before and since the pivotal, awareness-raising 1995 UN Conference on Women in Beijing. Struggling to find an effective Japanese term for the problem, the influential Domestic Violence Study and Research Group chose to adopt the English name, domesutikku baiorensu (domestic violence), while official government usage deploys a Japanese phrase burdened with competing meanings. The first law criminalizing and aiming to prevent domestic violence passed in 2001. The dissertation explores the emergence of domestic violence as a Japanese social problem from the 1980s until about 2008 utilizing two primary datasets: 1) newspaper articles in Asahi Shimbun published between 1985 and 2008 (as a rough baseline of general public information and awareness); and 2) narratives from semi-structured interviews with 25 activist advocates addressing domestic violence before and after 1995. The two datasets together raise a series of issues: the framing of domestic violence as women's problem; the victimhood trap; the emphasis on intervention, sheltering and dedomiciling; the failure to address abusers (neglecting prevention); hierarchy troubles within the domestic violence movement; near absence of male advocates; and the multiple complications associated with linguistically branding the issue as foreign. This study concludes with recommendations in the area of prevention, men's involvement in both prevention and intervention, hierarchy trouble within the domestic violence movement, and the language dilemma in naming a social problem.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2013.
Includes bibliographical references.
social movement
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