Violence against Women – A Harsh Reality!
Have you ever faced trouble while traveling alone on the bus or train? Ever been a victim of the leery comments passed by perverts? We all women at one point in our life have faced some form of abuse or violence. Abuse and violence affect women who come from different walks of life, from different backgrounds, in their everyday routine. As mentioned above, women are attacked by complete strangers. And one feels helpless! At complete loss!
However, in many cases, women are actually hurt by those who are very close to them. Abuse and violence can inflict terrible emotional and physical pain on the victims. But remember, you are not alone! All you need to do is reach out and seek help. Read on to know more about violence against women and how can it be prevented and curbed.
The Heinous Acts!
Violence against girls and women is one of the most prevalent human rights violations. This abuse can include economic, psychological, sexual or physical abuse. Also, it cuts across the boundaries of geography, wealth, culture, race and age. These heinous acts take place in the confines of homes, in refugee camps, in farm fields, the workplace, in schools and during crises and conflicts.
The violence and abuse has several manifestations – from the commonly occurring shameful acts of sexual and domestic violence, to self-glorified honor killings, abuse during pregnancy, to harmful practices and several other forms of femicide.
Warfare against Injustice!
Regional and international legal instruments have actually defined and clarified States’ obligations to punish, eradicate and prevent abuse and violence against girls and women. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) needs that participating nations to follow all appropriate steps and regulations to curb violence.
Although, the continued rise of violence against girls and women clearly demonstrates that this global pandemic is growing in alarming proportions. Also, this menace has yet to be effectively tackled with all the imminent and necessary resources and commitment.
Here is a shocking fact! Despite the growth and development, up to 6 out of every 10 women still face either physical or sexual violence in their entire lifetime. According to a study of World Health Organization, around 24,000 women in 10 different nations revealed that the occurrence of physical/sexual violence by a partner differed from 15% in urban Japan to a horrific 71% in rural Ethiopia. Most of the areas and regions were in the 30 to 60% range.
The Aftermath of Injustice
Violence and abuse against girls and women has many adverse effects, apart from harming the communities and families. For girls and women who belong to the age group of 16-44, abuse and violence is a primary cause of disability and death.
According to a World Bank study conducted on 10 specific risk factors faced by girls and women belonging to this age group in 1994, it was revealed that domestic violence and rape is far more dangerous when compared with malaria, war, motor vehicle accidents and cancer.
Several studies even discovered the increasing links between HIV and AIDS and violence against women. According to a survey, it was found that around 1,336 women from South Africa who were beaten by their respective partners were 48% more prone to be infected with HIV when compared with those women who were not beaten by their partners.
Gender-Based Violence – The Ugly Truth!
This type of violence not only violates the basic human rights, but even undermines economic growth, minimizes human capital and hampers general productivity. According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention report published in 2003, it was estimated that the intimate violence costs in the US alone exceed more than $5.8 billion every year. That means that $4.1 billion are spent for direct health care and medical services, where as productivity losses are responsible for around $1.8 billion. This is due to absenteeism from work because of abuse and violence.
A few nations have made some credible progress in addressing abuse and violence against girls and women. As per the UN Secretary-General’s “In-Depth Study on All Forms of Violence against Women” in 2006, 89 different countries had successfully implemented legalization on domestic violence. Also, various other countries had implemented national plans of prevention and action.
In nearly 104 states, marital rape is now considered as a prosecutable offense. Also, 90 nations have strict rules to curb sexual harassment. But, still there are many voids or gaps present in other countries’ penal codes. To our astonishment, in 102 nations, there are still no specific legal provisions or laws against domestic violence. Also, in 53 countries marital rape is still not recognized as a prosecutable offense.
Curbing the Gender-Based Violence
In recent times, there are very few interventions which have been scientifically proven effective and useful. Still more resources and laws are required to strengthen the initial prevention of sexual violence and intimate partner – preventing any such occurrence from taking place at all.
The initial prevention strategy with the best-know effectiveness for curbing intimate partner violence is school-based programs. These classes are meant for adolescents in order to prevent abuse and violence within the dating relationships. However, these still remain to be assessed for effectiveness and use in places where resources are still not available to prevent abuse and violence.
Many evidences are emerging about the effectiveness of various other primary prevention plans and strategies – these combine gender equality training with micro finance; that help in promoting relationship skills and communication within communities; that minimize direct access to intoxicating substances like alcohol and drugs; and that change the basic cultural gender norms.
In order to achieve long-lasting, substantial change, it is imperative to develop policies and enact legalizations which protect girls and women; address gender-based discrimination against females and promote gender equality; and enforce the culture to move away from abuse and violence.
An appropriate and immediate response from our health sector can definitely contribute in concrete means to prevent any re-occurrence of abuse and violence. Also, it can help in mitigating further consequences (secondary and tertiary levels of prevention).
Health education and sensitization is surely a very important strategy to curb abuse and violence. If one wants to fully address the consequences of violence against women and the basic needs of survivors/victims, it is important to have a multi-sectoral response.
We all know the detrimental effects of abuse and violence – on the victim and her children, if she has any. It is not easy to forget the insulting blows and disturbing episodes of any form of abuse and violence. The social stigma attached with these incidents must be eradicated. Women have been subjugated to these heinous acts of crime from time immemorial.
It is about time that we stand up for our basic human rights and implement gender equality at all levels, hierarchies of society. We, the empowered women of this technology-driven and fast-paced age, must know our rights and voice our opinions/concerns when the hour demands.
We must never feel guilty or ashamed to report any form of abuse or violence against women. If you are facing any such problem, remember that you are not alone! All you need to do is stand up for yourself and seek immediate help.
The former UN Secretary-General of UN, Kofi Annan once stated, “Violence against women is perhaps the most shameful human rights violation, and it is perhaps the most pervasive. It knows no boundaries of geography, culture or wealth. As long as it continues, we cannot claim to be making real progress towards equality, development and peace.”