It is becoming increasingly evident, however, that all forms of violence against women degrade not only the victim but the perpetrator as well. Those who inflict violence on women are themselves among the casualties of power-based systems. When unbridled competition, aggression, and tyranny destroy the fabric of society, everyone suffers. In the Bahá’í view, “the harvest of force is turmoil and the ruin of the social order” and violence against women is a grave symptom of this larger disorder.
(Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Aug 26, Ending Violence Against Women)
It is common knowledge that systematic discrimination against women has not only made women the main victims of a spreading poverty, but has promoted unhealthy attitudes in men. Denied education and technical training, constrained by family, work, and social structures which give preference to men, and excluded from decision-making at all levels, women must often work in the non-formal sector of the economy as traders and walking food vendors, unprotected by legislation and not benefiting from general improvements in working conditions. Meanwhile, men develop attitudes of superiority and habits of oppression that they carry from the family, to the workplace, to political life and ultimately to international relations.
(Bahá’í International Community, 1988 Sept 27, Role of Women in Commerce in Caribbean)
Let no sweetness of tongue beguile you—nay, rather consider the motive of every soul, and ponder the thought he cherisheth. Be ye straightway mindful and on your guard. Avoid him, yet be not aggressive! Refrain from censure and from slander, and leave him in the Hand of God.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 315)
The attack of robbers in the wilds must be resisted, and surrender to highwaymen is permissible only if one is forced to do so … Should you meet with robbers in the desert or come across highwaymen, you should not surrender yourselves to be torn into pieces. You should defend yourselves as much as possible, and complain to the government.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Translated extract from an untranslated Tablet, quoted in letter on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual, 5 June, 1983).
The friends of God must be adorned with the ornament of justice, equity, kindness and love. As they do not allow themselves to be the object of cruelty and transgression, in like manner they should not allow such tyranny to visit the handmaidens of God.
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 24 January, 1993)
The human need for love and acceptance often prevents victims from speaking out or even admitting that the abuse is taking place.
(Bahá’í International Community, 1994 May 26, Creating Violence-Free Families)
Then what Christ meant by forgiveness and pardon is not that, when nations attack you, burn your homes, plunder your goods, assault your wives, children and relatives, and violate your honour, you should be submissive in the presence of these tyrannical foes and allow then to perform all their cruelties and oppressions. No, the words of Christ refer to the conduct of two individuals toward each other. If one person assaults another, the injured one should forgive him. But the communities must protect the rights of man.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pp. 270-271)
Thus when Christ said; “Whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the left one also,” (Matt. 5:39) it was for the purpose of teaching men not to take personal revenge. He did not mean that, if a wolf should fall upon a flock of sheep and wish to destroy it, the wolf should be encouraged to do so. No, if Christ had known that a wolf had entered the fold and was about to destroy the sheep, most certainly He would have prevented it.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 270)