what is violence?


WHO defines violence as the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation. Others define it as the use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage, or destroy.

Can we still talk of violence if it doesn’t involve physical force? In which way should words be considered violence? Should the courts treat words as we would physical assault? I ask this because of this comment

calling on the public to desist from any form of violence against women, whether online or offline.

Daily Nation, 14th September.

Is this As per the 2018 law, a person found guilty of cyber-harassment is liable for a Sh20 million fine or imprisonment of not more than 10 years reasonable?

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

7 thoughts on “what is violence?

  1. renudepride says:

    Violence is threatening. It should be punished as long as it isn’t retaliated. 🙂 Naked hugs!

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  2. Barry says:

    I’d agree with the UN definition. As a Quaker I understand violence as being any act or deed (including speech) that causes harm to another person, whether intentional or not. As to how to respond to the violence, that depends on the circumstances. Unintentional harm is best solved using the concepts of restorative justice and can probably be used in many cases where there was some intent. Clearly though there must be boundaries that must never be crossed and for these deterrents must be in place, which must be enforced. I don’t see the enforcement as punishment, but as the obvious consequences of one’s actions in much the same way as jumping out of an aeroplane flying at 10,000 metres without a parachute has consequences.

    When it comes to speech, if a person fears for their wellbeing, even it’s being fearful of losing their human rights as the consequence of it, then yes it is a form of violence. I don’t know how this should be responded to as last thing I wish to see happen is the loss of freedom of expression. I suppose it depends how one views free speech. In Aotearoa, freedom of expression is guaranteed, but there is also a social understanding that actions that cause harm have consequences. It seems that in places such as America, freedom of speech has been taken to ridiculous levels where even (slightly) disguised calls for violence against almost anyone who is perceived as being different or having different values or merely having a different opinion seems to have become the norm – even by politicians. Unless that understanding of free speech changes soon, I think the consequences are fairly obvious.

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    • makagutu says:

      On this issue, I think i go with the standard definition of violence being a physical act, not a threat. To that extent, I think laws against such speech are intended to limit freedom of speech. But i find speech, such as the edict against Salman Rushdie very problematic because if acted upon, loss of life is a definite outcome.

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  3. basenjibrian2 says:

    I would also note the converse is true. the concept of micro aggressions in which ANY questioning of one’s position or self definition is defined as deadly violence. “When they used the wrong pronouns To felt i had been stabbed in the stomach” e.g. Agreeing by wth Maka this is pretty chilling…and how healthy is it for the “victims”?

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