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Approaches To Eliminating Gender Based Violence Sociology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 3083 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In 1993, the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women offered the first official definition of gender-based violence:

Article 2 of the Declaration states that the definition should encompass, but not be limited to, acts of physical, sexual, and psychological violence in the family, community, or perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs. These acts include: spousal battery; sexual abuse, including of female children; dowry-related violence; rape, including marital rape; female genital mutilation/cutting and other traditional practices harmful to women; non-spousal violence; sexual violence related to exploitation; sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in school and elsewhere; trafficking in women; and forced prostitution.

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The 1995 Beijing Platform for Action expanded on this definition, specifying that it includes: violations of the rights of women in situations of armed conflict, including systematic rape, sexual slavery and forced pregnancy; forced sterilization, forced abortion, coerced or forced use of contraceptives; prenatal sex selection and female infanticide. It further recognized the particular vulnerabilities of women belonging to minorities: the elderly and the displaced; indigenous, refugee and migrant communities; women living in impoverished rural or remote areas, or in detention.

Evolution of the issue of GENDER BAESD VIOLENCE

Over the past few decades, gender-based violence has increasingly come to be

Recognized as a serious problem at the international level, not only for women but

also for the attainment of equality, development and peace (United Nations, 1986a).

The issue has also become a priority for women’s organizations in the region and

a subject for feminist thought during the United Nations Decade for Women:

Equality, Development and Peace (1976-1985), and in recent years Governments in

The region has also begun to devote attention to the issue.

Although in 1979 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on

The Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,3 which incorporated

Women into the sphere of human rights, that instrument did no more than to touch on

The problem of violence against women. One of its defects is precisely the lack of a

Cleared definition of gender-based violence. Specific concern for this problem began

To manifest itself in 1980, when the World Conference of the United Nations Decade

For women Equality, Development and Peace, held in Copenhagen, adopted the

Resolution on “Battered women and violence in the family”. Likewise, paragraph 288

Of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women (1985),

Issued by the Third World Conference, calls for specific measures to deal with

Violence against women. Since that time, the United Nations has organized meetings

Violence against women and has taken steps to bring the issue to the attention of the

Commission on the Status of Women, the Economic and Social Council, the Division

For the Advancement of Women, the United Nations Statistical Office and the

Crime Prevention Control. In 1989, the Committee for the Elimination of

Discrimination against Women recommended that member States report on violence

Against women and the measures adopted at the governmental level to eradicate it.

At the Expert Group Meeting on Violence against Women held in 1991, it was

Determined that the existing instruments did not give due consideration to gender bas-

ed violence and that a specific definition of this crime was lacking. In the opinion of

The group, the absence of a clear definition hindered the effective application of

International human rights regulations aimed at solving this problem (United Nations, 1991a, b, and c).

Accordingly, the expert group produced a draft declaration on the elimination of

Violence against women which was analysed in depth by the Commission on the

Status of Women at its thirty-sixth session with a view to its adoption by the General Assembly.

At the region level, pursuant to the resolution entitled “Women and violence”

Adopted at the Fifth Regional Conference on the Integration of Women into the

Economic and Social Development of Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC,

1991b) and General Assembly resolution 45/114 on domestic violence (United

Nations, 1990), the documents and policy recommendations issued by the Economic

Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) have characterized

Problem of gender-based violence as one of the obstacles that must be overcome in

Order to improve the status of women in the countries of the region and achieve development with social equity.

Women’s groups in the region have carried out a variety of activities to promote

Respect for women’s human rights. This process intensified during the preparations

for The United Nations World Conference on Human rights, held in Vienna in June

1993. At the Conference, the women’s movement proposed that the Universal

Declaration of human Rights include specific references to gender-based violence and

That the Declaration be reformulated from the gender perspective, which is not

limited to the s ituation of women but rather encompasses all of society.

For their part, in the San José Declaration on Human Rights, which was adopted at?

The conclusion of the Regional Meeting for Latin America and the Caribbean of the

World Conference on Human Rights held in January 1993 in Costa Rica, the

Governments of Latin America and the Caribbean reiterated that the State should give

Priority to actions that promote respect for women’s rights, their participation in

National life under equal conditions, the eradication of all forms of hidden or open

Discrimination and especially the elimination of gender-based violence.

The resolutions adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights emphasize the

Importance of ensuring that women are able to enjoy the highest possible level of

Physical and mental health throughout their lives and, to that end, recognize their

Right to accessible and adequate health care, a broad range of family planning

Services, equal access to all educational levels on an equal footing, and to a life free

Of violence. One of the achievements made possible by the proposals put forward by

The women’s movement of Latin America and the Caribbean was the inclusion in the

Final declaration issued by the Conference of a recommendation that a Special

Rapporteur should be designated to report on the status of the situation as regards

Violence against women in all countries of the the world. In November 1993, the

forty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly established that post.

Recently, two new international instruments have been proposed which would

recognize that all forms of gender-based violence are human rights violations:

Declaration 48/104 of the United Nations General Assembly on the elimination of

Violence against women4 and an inter-American convention on the prevention,

Punishment and eradication of violence against women, which has been proposed by

The Organization of American States through its Inter-American Commission of Women (IACW).

The Declaration recognizes the urgent need to extend to women the rights and

Principles concerning the equality, security, liberty, integrity and dignity of all human

Beings. Article 1 defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based

Violence that 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 d

eprivation Of liberty,whether occurring in public or private life”. Article 2 states that

“Violence against women shall be understood to encompass, but not be limited to, the following:

(a) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including

Battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence,

Marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to

Women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation; (b) Physical,

Sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including

Rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational

Institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution; (c) Physical,

Sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs” (United Nations, 1994).

In summary, progress has been made mainly in two areas: dissemination of

Information about violence against women and violations of their human rights, and

The consideration of their interests and demands in United Nations instruments for the

Protection and promotion of human rights.

This growing international recognition of the problem is due to greater awareness at

The world level of the rights of women and to the work of such organizations as the

Latin American and Caribbean Network against Sexual and Domestic Violence,5

Which have repeatedly said that gender-based violence is a priority issues for women the world over.

Thanks to these efforts, the defenceless situation of victims is gradually changing and,

Today, most of the countries of the region have laws that defend women and places

Where they can seek shelter, support and assistance. Governments6 and

Nongovernmental organizations are also organizing information and sensitization

campaigns that help to make the problem known and offer various informational and

Preventive measures.

The media, too, are more open to publishing articles denouncing gender-based

Violence, editorials concerning the issue and the conclusions of studies on the subject.

Gender-based violence is no longer reserved for the news sections devoted to

Sensationalist police reports. Other sections of newspapers carry women’s viewpoints,

Although there is still no critical reflection on the responsibility of the media as

Regards the reproduction and perpetuation of violence against women and the dominant gender system.

Professionals and students of various specializations are also showing more interest

In the problem. The academic world has been slow to study the causes, consequences

And characteristics of gender-based violence, but the fact that it is now doing so is an

Important advance. In 1989, the National University of Buenos Aires established a

Degree programme focusing on family violence, and post-graduate courses on gender

Are given in universities in a number of countries, including Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico and Venezuela.

Even though public debate and dialogue on the issue have become more widespread

And are delving more deeply into the problem, Governments still lack a defined

Policy for combating and preventing gender-based violence in all its forms. Despite

the limitations that still exist, over the last decade there has clearly been an increasing

and awareness social consciousness about problems affecting women. This is

Reflected in the existence of a greater concern about gender-based violence,

Especially at the international level, and the activities that have been carried out in the countries.

Main consequences of gender based violence:

Gender-based violence in the household, when understood as an act that denies a

Woman the ability to exercise her rights, has social, economic and political

Implications for society, since it reproduces and perpetuates a system of

Discrimination against and subordination of more than half the population and constitutes a violation of human rights.

It also reflects the absence of a socio-political structure characterized by the type of

Greater symmetry in social relations that would provide a substantive basis for the

Consolidation of democracy and directly or indirectly impedes the harmonious

Development of nations (Rico, 1992).

Acts of aggression against women have many negative consequences. The World

Health Organization (WHO) considers gender-based violence to be a serious public

Health problem, since the following effects have been identified:

Physical injuries: fractures, burns, cuts, bruises, wounds, headaches, temporary or

Permanent disability, sexual abuse, gynaecological problems, unwanted pregnancies,

Premature births, miscarriages, sexually transmitted diseases, transmission of the HIV

Virus, and the abusive consumption of alcohol, drugs and tobacco.

Psychological damage: depression, anxiety, anguish, eating disorders, stress,

Phobias, obsessions, compulsive behaviour, toxic substance, abuse, insomnia,

Hypersonic, frigidity, low self-esteem, sexual dysfunctions, emotional instability,

Decreased productivity and reduction of cognitive and intellectual capacities. Two

Other phenomena which must be added to this list have fatal consequences: suicide

and homicide.13 In view of the psychological vulnerability of the victims —who

normally react to the situation with guilt feelings, low self-esteem, shame and fear—

different State agencies and non-governmental organizations have set up “self-help

groups “, whose basic purpose is for the participants to given one another mutual

emotional support so that they can escape from the silence and isolation in which

They usually experience such aggression. One of the first to carry out this kind of

activity was the “Women’s Place”, organization headquartered in Buenos Aires that

Works with self-help groups comprised of victims of abuse. These groups offer interested women a place where they can share their experience and learn to value

themselves as persons while at the same time becoming more sure of themselves

So that they will be able to break the destructive circle of violence.

Gender-based violence has particularly serious repercussions for children who live in

households where it is habitual. Abused women say that their children become

nervous,irritable and fearful, do poorly in school, and are often physically abused by

The father or by the women themselves. Today, children who witness violence are

also considered to be “battered children”, since they exhibit the same psychological

Symptoms as do those who are the direct victims of abuse (Jaffe and others, 1986).

Another factor that needs to be considered is that children depend emotionally and

Affectively on their parents, and that they tend to imitate the roles and behaviour they observe.

Therefore, later on they may have problems establishing affective relations different

From those they experienced in their childhood. Thus, children in such households

tend to grow up to be violent men and battered women, and may also have greater tolerance for social and political violence.

Some countries have established shelters where abused women can go, together

With their children, so that if they have no help from family members nor the

Economic means to look for another place to live, they can leave the scene of

aggression and be in a place where they feel safe while they try to resolve the

problem. An example of this is Refuge House, a shelter for abused women and

children in Quito, which was founded as a result of an agreement between the

Ministry of Social Welfare,represented by the National Women’s Department, and the

Ecuadorian Centre for Women’s Advancement and Action (CEPAM). Over a 29-

Month period (1991-1993), this centre provided shelter to 245 women who had been

battered by their spouses and counseling to another 120 non-residents, for an average of one case every 2.5 days (Vega and Gómez, 1993).

Gender-based violence is a cause of concern for a number of international

organizations, not only because of its individual physical and psychological

Consequences, but also because it places greater demands on general health care and

Emergency services and has a high economic cost for the countries where it occurs.

The 1993 World Development Report of the World Bank states that in market

economies it is possible to determine the number of years of life in good health lost by

Women during their reproductive years (15-44 years of age) because of premature

death or illness directly attributable to problems caused by domestic violence or rape.

Although these problems cannot be considered as illnesses in and of themselves, they

Are clearly important risk factors that increase the incidence of such phenomena as

Injuries, depression, and femicide (World Bank, 1993).

Violence also inhibits women from playing a role in decision-making within the

household, at work and in the political, economic and social spheres, and therefore

directly influences their participation in public activities and, hence, the exercise of

their citizenship. The social costs of gender-based violence also include the inaction

Of society when it fails to take measures to defend the human rights of women, since

society is then ignoring events that take place on a daily basis and is denying a

public discussion of these crimes, their political significance and societal means of

Redressing them.


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