VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Acharya Nagarjuna University, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh.
G.Ramjee Bheem Rao 2
Dept of Commerce and Management Studies,
Violence against women or gender based violence is a very complex, widespread issue and constitutes one of the most serious forms of violation of women’s human rights in Ireland today. Violence against Women is defined as follows any act of gender-based violence, which results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion, or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life. This includes, violence occurring in the family or domestic unit, physical and mental aggression, emotional and psychological abuse, rape and sexual abuse, incest, rape between spouses, regular or occasional partners and cohabitants, crimes committed in the name of honour, female genital and sexual mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, such as forced marriages”. Sexual and domestic violence is a cause and consequence of gender discrimination and it needs to be located within a gender equality framework. There is a misconception among government agencies that gender equality means that women-only services cannot be provided or that anything provided for women must also be made available for men. This undermines the specialist services needed for women who are victims of violence. Gender refers to women’s and men’s social roles and behaviour that are socially and culturally constructed. By being aware of how gender creates different roles for women and men, and by taking account of unequal power relations between women and men, service providers will be able to address different vulnerabilities experienced by different groups of women and men.
- Understand the root cause of violence against women.
- Identify different ways to end violence against women
- Conduct a community needs assessment. 5 Consult with key stakeholders.
Understand the root cause of violence against women:
Gender-based violence :Violence against women is gender-based because it is caused by an imbalance in power between women and men and narrow beliefs and expectations about how women and men should behave.
Suffering to women: The overwhelming majority of gender- based violence is perpetrated by men against women. It is possible for men to experience violence from women, but it is much less common.
Forms of violence against women:
There are many different forms of violence against women, including
- Tying someone up
- Denying women with disabilities their mobility/assistive devices
- Withholding medication
- Pushing someone down stairs
- Dragging a woman by her hair
- Stalking (following a woman around without permission)
- Rape (within or outside marriage)
- Unwanted touching
- forced penetration by an object
- pressuring women into any kind of sexual activity • making unwanted sexual comments
- forcing someone to watch pornography
- sexual humiliation
- selling women into sexual slavery.
- yelling or screaming at someone
- making hurtful or humiliating jokes
- Excessive and unfair judgment and criticism
- Spreading rumors
- blaming a woman for something she hasn’t done
- making unwanted comments in public (catcalling)
- Excessive possessiveness or control over someone’s behavior
- threatening to harm a woman, her children, family or pets
- threatening to expose a woman’s secrets
- threatening to have a woman’s children taken away
- threatening to commit suicide to stop a woman from leaving
- telling a woman she is ugly or unlovable
- stopping a woman from seeing her friends and family
- Intentionally embarrassing a woman in public
- telling a woman what she can and can’t wear
WHAT CAUSES VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN?
Violence against women exists because of the unequal distribution of power and resources between men and women and the belief that men are more valuable and important than women. Gender inequality leads to violence against women in a number of ways. For example:
- Gender inequality and discrimination against women reinforces unequal power relations between women and men. When women have low status in their relationships and in society, men may choose to enforce and enact their power over women through violence.
- Gender roles and social norms can promote tolerance or acceptance of violence. Women and girls learn to accept violence, or not to recognise that what they experience is violence. Men and boys learn that using violence is part of what it means to ‘be a man’.
- Unequal gender roles and social norms may be enforced through violence. In Pacific cultures, women are often seen as upholders of traditional values and culture and may face violence if they do not conform to traditional roles. Boys and men may also face violence if they do not conform to social norms about masculinity.
Men’s use of violence against women also reinforces gender inequality, creating a vicious circle. The only way to end violence against women is to achieve gender equality.
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN?
The Ecological Model of violence against women explains how certain risk factors and protective factors at the individual, family, community, and societal level can increase or decrease a woman’s risk of experiencing violence.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN?
Violence against women has many serious and negative impacts on individuals, families, communities.
- physical injuries
- low self esteem and feelings of shame
- chronic health problems (e.g. skin conditions, digestive problems)
- Mental illness (e.g. depression and anxiety)
- reduced social, educational and economic opportunities
- Unwanted pregnancy
- increased risk of still birth.
- increased risk of STIs (including HIV)
- breakdown of the family unit
- abuse and neglect of children
- creates a cycle of family violence
- become dependent on services
- gain a negative reputation for being violent
- disrupts community cohesion and wellbeing.
IDENTIFY DIFFERENT WAYS TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN:
There are many different ways to end violence against women and each of them is as important as the others.
- Education programmes with children and young people that encourage gender equality and respectful relationships.
- Raising public awareness through communication and advocacy campaigns that promote a zero tolerance attitude to violence against women.
- Engaging men and boys to achieve gender equality and end violence against women.
- Empowering women through leadership development and increased participation in decision-making at all levels, including in the home, in the workplace and within governments.
- Programmes that develop women’s livelihood skills so they can earn an income and achieve financial independence.
Engaging men and boys in ending violence against women
In order to avoid this, efforts to engage men in ending violence against women must:
- acknowledge that the majority of violence is perpetrated by men against women and that gender inequality is the root cause of violence against women
- transform harmful gender roles and promote non violent forms of masculinity
- be rooted in the principles of feminism, gender equality and human rights and be accountable to survivors of violence and the women’s organisations that have been fighting to end violence for decades;
- not detract funding and resources from existing work with women (i.e. it must seek new funding and additional resources).
INCREASING THE ACCESS OF WOMEN SURVIVORS TO QUALITY SERVICES
One of the most important ways to address violence against women is by providing information, services, support and advocacy to women who are experiencing violence. Some organisations also provide counselling to men who use violence against women, or children who have witnessed or experienced violence against women.
Examples of services include:
1 Establishing safe houses for women who are escaping violence.
2 Providing counseling, information, support and advocacy for women who have experienced violence.
3 Behavioral change programmes for men.
4 Providing legal literacy training for women.
5 Providing health and medical services that address the immediate physical and psychological injuries resulting from violence.
6 Building the capacity of ‘first responders’ such as police, social workers and nurses to respond effectively to cases of violence against women
.7 Establishing or improving systems to assist survivors, in areas such as policing, health, social welfare and justice, including guidelines for responders.
8 Projects that make existing services and programmes more accessible to certain groups (e.g. people with disabilities, young women).
- Projects that ensure services for women and girls in humanitarian settings.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT FORMS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN?
Violence against women occurs in multiple forms. Among the main ones are:-
- Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is where one person tries to control and assert power over their partner in an intimate relationship. It can be physical, emotional, financial or sexual abuse. These often overlap. Any woman can be affected and it can happen in any home. 25% of all violent crimes reported involve a man assaulting his wife or partner5. The main types of abuse perpetrated against women experiencing domestic violence are,
- Physical abuse;
This is perhaps the most recognizable form of abuse. It can result in physical injury, and in some cases it can be life threatening or fatal. Examples of this type of abuse are when women are punched, slapped, stabbed, beaten and raped, and even thrown down stairs while pregnant.
- Emotional abuse;
This is a means of establishing a power imbalance within a relationship and can be as harmful as physical violence. It often involves threats of physical or sexual abuse, being put down, constantly criticized, controlled and monitored.
- Financial abuse
is a form of domestic violence in which the abuser uses money as a means of controlling his partner. It is designed to isolate a woman into a state of complete financial dependence. It includes controlling the family finances and not being allowed to have independent income. It can also involve
Destruction of property including passport or other important documents.
- Sexual Violence
occurs where there is a dynamic of control and abuse in an intimate relationship. It is difficult for women who are being abused by their partner to negotiate a free and equal sexual relationship with that partner. Women experience being repeatedly raped and beaten, being told that it is their duty to have sex with their partner and being raped in front of the children. Sexual degradation also includes the enforced use of graphic and hardcore pornography.
WHAT IS THE COST OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN?
- Violence against women has serious costs and consequences not just for the individual woman but for the community and society as a whole. The effects of violence have larger ranging social costs that cannot be measured. These include the fear all women may face as a result of knowing that other women suffer from gender based violence, the undermining of societal values and the guilt non-violent men feel for the actions of the perpetrators.
- Studies of the prevalence of violence against women world-wide indicate that violence is an issue that permeates every corner of society, is widespread and costly. Violence leads to serious health damage, physically and emotionally. Apart from physical injuries, it causes fear, distress and loss of self-confidence. It damages autonomy and prevents those affected from feeling free and safe. Compared with non abused women, women who suffer violence are more likely to experience serious medical and mental heath problems. Violence during pregnancy is a significant risk factor for low birth weight, infections and anaemia. Injuries to children, emotionally and physically, are not unusual in families where there is violence.
- The prevalence of violence and of sexually transmissible diseases including HIV/AIDS are interlinked. Women’s inability to negotiate safe sex and refuse unwanted sex is closely linked to the contraction of these serious infections.Violence does not only have an important personal, health and social cost,but also an economic cost. Violence against women prevents an economy from attaining its full economic potentialOne way to organize the economic costs of violence is to place them in categories based on the consequences of violence and the services utilised as a result of violence. Costs can be found in a number of categories: Justice, Health, Social Services, Education, Business Costs, Personal and Household Costs.
WHAT ARE THE BARRIERS TO WOMEN GETTING HELP?
Violence against women is often a hidden crime and much of it goes unreported. Some factors have been shown to make women less likely to seek help from voluntary organisations, medical professionals or the Gardai.
Nine factors that stop women getting help;
- In cases of sexual and domestic violence, self-blame and guilt is often experienced by the woman. The woman may agonise over what it was she did to provoke the attack, regardless of the fact that it was not her fault.
2.Fear on the part of the woman that she will not be believed.
- The lack of effective sanctions for men who have perpetrated violence is a deterrent for women reporting this crime.
4.Crimes of sexual and domestic violence are often tolerated, minimized or dismissed by society. Perpetrators know this so any social or legal sanctions are not effective or dissuasive.
- A woman experiencing violence may not recognise it as a crime against her55.
6.Migrant women with dependent residency status are afraid to report abusive partners out of fear of losing their legal rights. A woman may become destitute or homeless or may fear deportation or other sanctions on the part of the State56 states.
- 7. By controlling the woman’s access to financial resources and property the abuser ensures that she will be forced to choose between further abuse or facing extreme poverty.
- 8. Emotional manipulation causes a woman to experience shame, embarrassment and hopelessness in abusive relationships, which causes her to feel disempowered.
- Discrimination and racism experienced by women from minority ethnic groups including Traveller and Roma women has resulted in some mistrust of authority and reluctance to disclose and seek support.
Recognise and support the role of NGOs and civil society. Increase funding by 10% to organisations providing front-line services and supports to survivors of violence against women to offset budget cuts in recent years and increase funding to advocacy organisations working at a representative, policy and support level. Provide adequate support services, including helplines, counselling and safe, emergency accommodation for women experiencing violence. A target of at least 1 refuge place per 10,000 of population should be agreed and resources ring fenced to make progress towards that target. Roll out the Social, Political and Health Education programme in Secondary Schools. Maintain the Stay Safe programme in Primary schools. Continue awareness raising initiatives including training for Judiciary, Gardaí and healthcare professionals.
1.Available on National Council of Women website. http://www.nwci.ie/images/up- loads/nationalobireland2.pdf
- United Nations Assembly General Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, (December 1993) Article 2. http://www.un.org/doc- uments/ga/res/48/a48r104.htm
- The Way Forward – Taking action to end violence against women and girls, Final Strategy 2010-2013, 2010, p.17. http://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/ files/The%20Way%20Forward%20 Final%20Strategy.pdf
- Domestic Violence against women and girls – Innocent Digest No. 6, June 2000, UNICEF. http://www.unicef-irc. org/publications/pdf/digest6e.pdf
- The Way Forward – Taking action to end violence against women and girls, Final Strategy 2010-2013, 2010, p.17.http://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/The%20Way%20Forward%20 Final%20Strategy.pdf.
- Violence Against Women in the UK – Thematic Shadow Report for the CEDAW London School of econcomics, 2007. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/ bodies/cedaw/docs/ngos/UKThe- maticReportVAW41.pdf.
- The Cost of Domestic Violence: Sylvia Walby 2009 Update, Lancaster University. www.lancaster.ac.uk.
- 8. United Nations The Economic Costs of Violence Against Women: An Evaluation of the Literatur 2005. http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/ vaw/expert%20brief%20costs.pdf
- National Crime Council and ESRI, Domestic Abuse of Women and Men in Ireland, 2005, p. 168. http://www. crimecouncil.gov.ie/downloads/Abuse_ Report_NCC.pdf
- Womens Aid Media Watch, Sept 2013. http://www.womensaid.ie/policy/natint- stats.html#X-2012091712441313
- Rape, How Women, the Community and the Health Sector Respond, Sexual Violence Research Initiative – World Health Organisation, 2007. http://www. svri.org/rape.pdf
- Immigrant Council of Ireland Briefing Document, 2013. http://www. immigrantcouncil.ie/images/stories/ Briefing_Document_DV_-_longer_ version_-_final_2013.pdf