Family Dynamics and Family Violence
“The divergence between cultural norms and personal desires shows that the practices adopted by individuals and communities are very much open to discussion and there is a readiness for change…”
AREU’s Family Dynamics and Family Violence project centres around issues relating to marriage practice and violence toward children and is built on fieldwork in Bamiyan, Herat, Kabul and Nangarhar Provinces. Research was conducted in 2006-07 in cooperation with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).
Violence toward children was found to be widespread. However, this was rarely acknowledged as good parenting and was frequently linked to stress or a lack of alternative parenting skills. More general levels of domestic violence were determined in large part by the kinds of marriage practices households had experienced. Different sets of economic, community and domestic circumstances contributed to a diverse set of decision-making strategies for marriages, which frequently combined elements of choice and force for both genders. In many cases, people demonstrated an awareness of the potentially detrimental impact of existing cultural norms despite their widespread prevalence. This suggests that space exists for policymakers and programmers to work with communities to identify viable alternatives to the status quo.