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The Woman in the Violence

Gender, Poverty, and Resistance in Peru

M. Cristina Alcalde

Publication Year: 2010

The Woman in the Violence draws on fieldwork conducted in Lima, Peru, one of the largest cities in Latin America, and the life stories of dozens of women to examine multiple forms of violence and how it interrelates in their lives. Gender based violence continues to blight the landscape of South American urban centers, and this book unravels the personal experiences of those impacted. Alcalde explores the everyday lives of these women before, during, and after an abusive relationship to explore the impact of, and response to, structural, institutional, and interpersonal violence. Focusing on the experiences of women who are predominantly poor, nonwhite, rural-to-urban migrants with little or no formal education, The Woman in the Violence addresses a range of serious concerns. What types of violence do women experience at different stages in their lives? Which identities and roles are manifested throughout their lives, and do some of these increase their vulnerability to different forms of violence? What strategies do women employ to gain some power and control in these situations, and how can we conceptualize these strategies? In examining these questions, The Woman in the Violence contributes to our understanding of violence, gender, race, resistance, and urbanism as it exposes and analyzes systemic violence against women. The everyday forms of resistance these women employ provide significant insight for students, scholars, and health professionals.

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press

Title Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xii

My deepest gratitude goes to the women whose stories appear in this book, for sharing parts of their lives with me and providing me with the opportunity and trust to examine their experiences. Each of the women I met in Lima taught me something important about survival during especially difficult moments in her life, and I am forever grateful for that...

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pp. 1-41

It was a warm, sunny day in February 2001 when twenty-six- year-old Ana found out she was expecting her third child. One week later, when she knew none of her neighbors were around to stop her or call her husband, she escaped. She took her children and left without telling her husband that she had become pregnant again as a result of his raping her...

I. Violence and Everyday Resistance in Women's Lives

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pp. 43-119

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1. Life in the City: Lima, Its Possibilities, and Its Discontents

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pp. 45-73

Located on a desert coastline that meets the Pacific Ocean, Lima is commonly described by visitors, guidebook writers, and residents as a gray city with fall and winter days characterized by smog and drizzle. Yet, the city is as alive with movement in the gray fall and winter months as in the sunny and hot days of spring and summer...

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2. Reproducing Structural Inequalities within Intimate Relationships

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pp. 74-99

Weismantel notes that although “in the Andes, people are notoriously unwilling to use racial terms of any kind as self-descriptors” (2001:xxxiv), racism abounds. Similarly, although racism within intimate relationships is rarely discussed, race and racism can play a significant role in abuse within intimate relationships. This chapter focuses on women’s intimate...

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3. Women's Bodies, Sexuality, and Reproduction

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pp. 100-119

When I asked forty-six-year-old Inés if there was something that her husband had done to her that hurt her the most, Inés replied, “What hurt me the most was the disrespect towards my body.” During interviews and conversations, the women’s discussions of sexual abuse most often came up in descriptions of specific episodes of violence and during questions about gender roles...

II. Leaving the Relationship

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pp. 121-185

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4. Families, Children, and Mothering

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pp. 123-152

The majority of the women I interviewed turned to—or attempted to turn to—their families for help before seeking assistance from state and nonprofit agencies. Some families assisted the women in leaving while others pressured the women to stay with abusive partners. Although studies...

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5. Resources (Un)Available: Institutional Aid and Institutional Violence

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pp. 153-185

It is not uncommon for women who are unsuccessful in their attempts to cope with and stop their husbands’ violence on their own or with the help of relatives to seek assistance from resources outside their families as their situations worsen. The previous chapter discussed how women’s families...

III. Rebuilding Lives

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pp. 187-224

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6. The Everyday Experiences and Dangers of Starting Over

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pp. 189-215

By 2008, it had been seven years since Daisy and her sons left her abusive conviviente and the shelter at which we met. Daisy had been employed in the same household for five years and supplemented her main source of income as a domestic worker in that household with occasional...

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Conclusions: Representing the Woman in the Violence and Approaching Violence in Women's Lives

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pp. 217-224

During one of my visits to her shelter, Rosa Dueñas spoke with me about her views on academics’ approaches to domestic violence: “While they [women academics], the majority of them, speak several languages and etcetera etcetera, they have more power to lobby...


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pp. 225-237


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pp. 239-252


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pp. 253-260

E-ISBN-13: 9780826517319
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826517296

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2010