Husbands have been listening to petty complaints from their wives for more than a year: ……
As the pandemic dramatically changes our daily lives, women are being pushed aside in the labor market and in the home.
It has been more than a year since the new coronavirus began to spread, and during this time, there has been an increase in the number of consultations from women who have been divorced by their husbands and have nowhere to go.
Masao Kissho, the president of A Plus, a general incorporated association that has been supporting women for more than 15 years, reveals the situation.
“Many of the women who come to A Plus for advice used to work part-time to help make ends meet, but due to the declaration of a state of emergency and measures to prevent the spread of domestic violence, their income has been reduced or they have been laid off.
This October marks 20 years since the DV Prevention Law (Law Concerning the Prevention of Spousal Violence and the Protection of Victims) was enacted. Recently, overt physical violence has started to decline, and it is now widely recognized that violence such as punching and kicking, as well as abusive behavior such as raising one’s voice and denying one’s personality, qualify as domestic violence. “On the other hand, there has been a sharp increase in the number of spousal problems caused by the Corona disaster, especially economic violence and extreme pressure on family finances,” says Yoshio.
The increase in spousal violence (domestic violence) due to the Corona disaster has been accused of being a global problem in a UN study.
In Japan, domestic violence consultations increased by 1.6 times in one year from April 2020 (Cabinet Office survey). Spousal Violence Counseling and Support Centers and DV Counseling Plus, a 24-hour telephone and e-mail counseling service, nationwide receive more than 15,000 consultations every month.
In one case, as a result of the family spending more time at home due to the Corona disaster, the wife was kicked out of the house due to the stress they caused each other.
“When the family spends more time together and the family’s income decreases, it is usually the women who are more stressed,” says Yoshio.
Wives are forced to manage tighter finances and take care of fussy children. Her frustration is directed at her husband, and when he starts to pay attention to details such as washing his hands when he comes home to prevent corona infection, her patience has reached its limit.
In the past, the fact that my husband and I had slightly different ways of thinking and educating our children didn’t bother me so much because we didn’t have much time to share. Conversations were limited between her and her husband, who came home late at night, and it was just meal time. I was able to get through the weekends and stay married as long as he worked diligently and helped with the household expenses.
However, while working remotely and spending a lot of time together, the “slight” differences became incompatible, and a minor issue developed into irreparable domestic discord.
After more than a year of listening to his wife’s petty complaints, the husband said, “I’m working so hard, but what’s going on? I can’t take it anymore.” He reached an impasse and asked his wife for a divorce because he didn’t want her to spend any more money.
The husband, who was paying the mortgage, felt that he had the right to own the house and told his wife that he would sell the house because his income had dropped drastically and that he would pack up his belongings and leave within a week, leaving the children behind. …… This is one of the increasing number of cases of “wife eviction” in the past year.
If the woman has a full-time income and savings, the decision is made quickly: within a week, she finds a new apartment and agrees to divorce proceedings.
Divorce can only be filed by the aggrieved party. Therefore, the first step is to determine who is the responsible spouse (the one who is responsible for the divorce), and in cases such as economic DV, which is difficult to prove, there are many cases where both parties continue to claim that they are the victims and the case drags on. In addition, the level of compensation for psychological damage is low in Japanese courts, and even if you win compensation, it will be lost in lawyers and other court fees.
Some women who come to A-Plus after suffering from domestic violence by their husbands are forced to work part-time because their husbands are reluctant to pay for their wives’ beauty salons, cosmetics and clothing, or do not contribute enough to their living expenses due to their economic DV.
When their children’s schools and kindergartens are closed due to the Corona disaster, these women often choose to concentrate on raising their children, even if an understanding employer allows them to take a leave of absence, saying that it would be a burden to the company. In the end, they decide to resign for their own reasons.
As her job and earnings are taken away, her attention is focused on her children. At the same time, the stress is directed at the child, and the husband’s lack of understanding adds to the stress. Her husband’s lack of understanding also adds to her stress, and her children and her husband become even more overwhelmed as she spends more time at home.
Ms. Kissho says, “There are so many fights at home because of money,” especially during the summer vacation at the Corona vortex.
A wife who has been deprived of her job and income is now focusing her attention on her children. ……
One woman, for example, was concerned about her child’s poor academic performance during the summer vacation when he was playing video games all the time, so she limited his game time to 40 minutes a day. The woman became over-interested because it is generally pointed out that the children’s poor grades and attitudes are due to “the mother’s discipline.
Husbands, usually uninterested in child rearing, intervened only when women argued with their children, saying, “Your mother is mean. If you live with your father, you can play all the games you want, so come with your father after the divorce.
He also cited the woman’s lack of financial strength and said that if he lived with her, he would not be able to afford a cheap apartment and go to college. As a result, the children gradually began to despise their mother, and when they argued with her, she would always press them to leave the house.
In reality, as long as the father pays child support, there is no need for the woman to worry about the children’s school fees or living expenses, even if her financial capacity is insufficient at the time of divorce. However, women who have suffered from domestic violence for many years are often convinced of their own helplessness.
One woman, who said that the locks had been changed when she came home, said, “The house is my property, for which I pay the mortgage. If you don’t leave, I will sue you for trespassing,” her husband threatened her in a line message, and she came to the house in her clothes for fear of being reported to the police or arrested.
Some women who are financially strong can call a locksmith to change the locks even if the locks have been changed, but not many women are able to do so.
Women who are forced to leave their homes regret that they should have been more gentle with theirhusbands or that they should have been more attentive to their husbands’ moods, especially in domestic violence relationships.
“The longer the marriage, the more the DV husband says, ‘It’s your fault,’ and the more her parents say the same thing, the harder it is for a woman to justify herself,” says Ms. Kissho.
As a result of these experiences of violence, when their children’s schools and kindergartens are closed, the women have no power to apply for leave or ask their employers to adjust their shifts. In addition to having no connection with labor unions, many part-time workers tend to be isolated and have no knowledge of the law, so they tend to resign voluntarily.
Women who have no economic power and have been kicked out of their homes are at a loss. If they had had the opportunity to meet with their mommy friends, to discuss their child-rearing problems, and to learn about other families, the outcome might have been different.
When they reach the point of no return, women often express regret, saying that they wish they had been able to talk to someone earlier about their child-rearing issues, or that they had been able to get someone to listen to them.
What women need is a place where they can relieve their stress and gather opinions about their own child-rearing, and at the same time, such a place should not blame women, but affirm and accept them, so that they can feel safe to ask for advice and empathy. Only then can women develop the ability to express themselves and make decisions.
DV Consultation Plus https://soudanplus.jp/ 0120-279-889 (24 hours toll free)
Reporting and writing by： Chie Matsumoto
Journalist. Mainly covers issues related to social justice, such as human rights and labor. Co-author of "White Paper on Mass Media and Sexual Harassment" (Bungeishunju), "Understanding Black Companies in Manga" (Godo Shuppan), etc., and co-translator of "Striking China" (Sairyusha), which will be co-translated into "The Power of Change that Moves the World" in January 2021. A Message from the Co-Chairman of Black Lives Matter" (Akashi Shoten).