Say NO to violence against women
The 25th of November marks the international day for the elimination of violence against women. The important day was started by the United Nations in 1999.
Violence against women is defined by the United Nations 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 in private life.”
Violence against women and girls come in many different forms and includes a broad range of violence and abuse, including those forms which are often seen as less harmful, such as psychological abuse and cyber abuse to extremes such as sexual and actual physical violence. Abuse of women and girls is still one of the most common forms of abuse globally and some of the statistics are frankly shocking.
According to statistics published by the World Health Organisation (WHO), 1 in 3 women worldwide has experienced either physical or sexual violence during their lives. This statistic, of course, varies in different parts of the world, the highest recorded is 70% of women in some parts of Asia. With regards women who were killed globally, over half of their deaths are attributed to their own intimate partners compared to 6% of all male deaths.
Of course, violence and abuse have far wider mental health repercussion than are immediately apparent. This can be seen in the fact that women and girls who have suffered from some sort of violence or abuse are twice as likely to suffer from depression and similarly are twice as likely to have an abortion.
Violence and abuse of women and girls can also be strengthened through human trafficking and child marriage. Women and girls are by far the most common victims of human trafficking, amounting to over 71% of all trafficked persons. Child marriage is still a common occurrence in many parts of the world, for example, in West and Central Africa where approximately 42% of girls before the age of 18 were married, including 14% of girls who were married before the age of 15. Worldwide, it is estimated that almost 750 million women and girls, who are alive today, were married before their 18 birthday.
One of the saddest things is that less than 40% of women who have experienced violence or abuse sought any form of help at all, while less than 10% went to the police. The fact that women are not seeking help speaks of the large problems in society that still surround equality and the stigma associated with domestic abuse.
What is confirmed by these statistics is that not enough is being done about these issues. Many people seem to still choose to view the violent experiences of women as disconnected events, taking place in the private sphere of relationship conflict and beyond the realm of policy-makers and health-care providers. Others blame the women themselves for being subjected to violence, rather than the actual perpetrators. In the case of non-partner sexual violence, women are blamed for deviating from accepted social roles, for being in the wrong place, or for wearing the wrong clothes. All these excuses and the lack of action all point to the fact the much work must still be done and that women still face vast inequalities in many regions of society.
Recent events such as the the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal and claims of sexual abuse at the UK Parliament have brought a spotlight to some of these issues. If anything positive is to be found in the exposure of these abusers then it is the fact that it seems to be helping other women speak out about their experiences. We need to break the stigma surrounding violence against women and we need to empower them to speak up about these horrible events, to highlight just how terrible and disgusting this issue is.
“Global and regional estimates of violence against women: prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence” World Health Organisation. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/85239/1/9789241564625_eng.pdf?ua=1
“EU Survey on Violence Against Women Highlights Low Levels of Disclosure by Women in Ireland and high levels of reported violence against women.” Safe Ireland, 2017. http://www.safeireland.ie/2014/violence-against-women-every-day-every-where/
“Data holds key to tackling violence against women” The Irish Times, 2017. https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/data-holds-key-to-tackling-violence-against-women-1.3058508
“Violence Against Women, Chapter 6” The United Nations. https://unstats.un.org/unsd/gender/chapter6/chapter6.html
“Violence Against Women” Gender Eqauilty in Ireland, 2017. http://www.genderequality.ie/en/GE/Pages/ViolenceAgainstWomen
“Facts and figures: Ending violence against women” UN Women, 2017. http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures