“Gender-based violence anywhere is a threat to peace and security everywhere.” John F. Kerry (quotefancy, n.d.). Gender-based violence (GBV) is an act of aggression towards an individual against their will as a result of societal gender norms and unequal power relationships.
GBV is a serious violation of human rights and a life-threatening health and protection issue (UNHCR, 2020). The perpetrators are predominantly male, and the victims are most often women. Women are most often asked for sexual favors or treated with inappropriate jokes, sexual insinuations, comments, and unwanted physical contact that can amount to an assault. One out of every three women will experience sexual violence or physical assault at least once in their lives. The cases escalate especially in times of crises such as during conflict or pandemics.
GBV is often divided into two categories, interpersonal and structural/institutional violence.
Interpersonal violence is the act of economic, sexual, psychological, or other violence performed by an individual against another person, regardless of gender (Ann Kangas, 2015). It is a pattern of behavior used to establish dominance and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence. The perpetrator often displays the following warning signs, among many others; puts you down, cuts off your access to money or resources, threatens to disclose private or sensitive information about you, and forces you to have sex with them. Interpersonal violence is a leading cause of death among young adults in many parts of the world.
Structural/institutional violence refers to any form of institutional discrimination that delegates a person to a sustained subordinate position. The means of this delegation can be physical or ideological and is intended as a way of life for families, households, or communities (Ann Kangas, 2015).
Violence Against Women
Violence against women is defined as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life (WHO, 2021). One in three women, globally, experience sexual or physical violence, mostly by an intimate partner. Women everywhere have their rights trampled on and are forced to engage in unwilful sexual relations.
Nations across the world have passed legislation that protects women and girls from domestic violence, and sexual harassment at their place of work, but they are still plagued by these atrocities. Passing legislation alone is still not enough. The perpetrators often go unpunished and are likely to strike again. So, when will our women and girls ever be safe?
Violence against women and girls is a global crisis that knows no social status, race, tribe, or culture. Marginalized women or those in conflict zones are at a higher risk of violence because of the shaky protection from institutions in place. In some cultures, this violence is acceptable and is approved by society. The perpetrators feel like the violence against women is appropriate and acceptable behavior, and they often go unpunished.
Violence against women is deeply rooted in gender inequality that women and girls are faced with from childhood to adulthood, throughout their lives. It takes many forms such as stalking, harassment, early and forced marriage, sexual assault, sex trafficking, and domestic violence.
The statistics below shows the prevalence of violence against women:
AGE GROUP IN YEARS
15 - 19
20 - 24
25 - 29
30 - 34
35 - 39
40 - 44
45 - 49
50 - 54
55 - 59
60 - 64
65 - 69
Source: (UNFPA, 2017)
The data above shows the disturbing figures that girls as young as 15 years, and some even younger are not spared from this violence. The effects of this abuse not only affect the victims but also their families and child sexual assault leads to a myriad of problems such as sexually transmitted infections, stress, unwanted pregnancies, and mental health problems.
To cope with the effects of violence and abuse, most women resort to misuse of alcohol or drugs or engage in risky behaviors, such as having unprotected sex. For some, their perception of their body changes; this often leads to unhealthy eating habits or eating disorders. Violence against women interferes with the women's ability to productively work. They may be forced to leave their homes for fear of violence, and those who were in schools may opt to drop out.
Gender-based violence takes a toll on the contributions of women to international development, peace, and progress. It is an infringement of basic human rights and the perpetrators should be brought to justice. Women organizations and governments are doing extensive work to ensure that victims have access to help and support and a safe place to run to.
(n.d.). From quotefancy: https://quotefancy.com/quote/1270905/John-F-Kerry-Gender-based-violence-anywhere-is-a-threat-to-peace-and-security-everywhere
Ann Kangas, H. H. (2015, July). Gender-based violence. From GSDRC: https://gsdrc.org/topic-guides/gender/gender-based-violence/
UNFPA. (2017, September 18). Gender-based violence. From UNFPA: https://www.unfpa.org/gender-based-violence#readmore-expand
UNHCR. (2020). Gender-based Violence. From UNHCR: https://www.unhcr.org/gender-based-violence.html
WHO. (2021, March 9). Violence against women. From WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-women
Sarah Hobson, Ph.D. specializes in supporting teams, departments and schools, businesses, and government agencies in building inclusive innovative change-making communities who understand how to connect well with and join diverse populations in providing needed sustainable resources for all youth and families.