Gender-based violence both reflects and reinforces inequities between men and women and compromises the health, self-respect, safety and sovereignty of its victims. It encompasses an extensive assortment of human rights violations, including sexual exploitation of children, rape, home brutality, sexual battering and harassment, trafficking of women and girls and numerous detrimental customary practices. Any one of these abuses can leave profound mental scars, damage the wellbeing of women and girls in common, including their reproductive and sexual health, and in some instances, results in death. Violence against women has been called “the most insidious yet slightest renowned human rights oppression in the globe, and is a demonstration of historically uneven supremacy dealings between men and women, which have led to dominance over and inequity against women by men and to the hindrance of the complete progression of women, that cruelty against women is one of the critical social mechanisms by which women are compelled into a subsidiary position compared with men.
Around the world, as many as one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or maltreated in some other approach – most frequently by someone she knows, including by her spouse or another male relatives; one woman in four has been ill-treated during pregnancy. Violence against women mutually violates and impairs or nullifies the gratification by women of their human rights and elementary freedoms. In all societies, to a superior or minor extent, women and girls are subjected to corporal, sexual and mental violence that cuts across ranks of earnings, class and customs. This is a subject which endangers women’s lives, bodies, mental uprightness and autonomy. Violence may have reflective effects, both direct and indirect, on a woman’s reproductive health, including: unnecessary pregnancies and limited admittance to family planning information and contraceptives, treacherous abortion or injuries unremitting throughout a lawful abortion subsequent to an unwanted pregnancy, complications from recurrent, high-risk pregnancies and lack of follow-up care, sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, continual gynecological problems as well as mental tribulations.
Gender-based violence also serves – by purpose or outcome – to perpetuate male authority and control. It is sustained by a custom of silence and denunciation of the significance of the health penalty of violence. In addition to the impairment they exact on the individual stage, these outcomes also exact a communal duty and position an intense and needless yoke on health services. According to Murphy and Ringheim, four factors have been constantly linked with violent behavior: norms of male privilege and possession of women; male supervision of possessions in the family; male execution of decision-making in the family; and concepts of masculinity attached to supremacy and nobility (2001). Moreover, UNFPA recognizes that violence against women is inextricably linked to gender-based inequalities. When women and girls are anticipated to be generally submissive, their conduct in relation to their health, together with reproductive health, is unenthusiastically affected at all stages of the life cycle. When investigating the extenuating conditions – lack of resources, education, healthcare and the sex trade, we find great and competent relations, and understand that these factors enable the perseverance of this phenomenon.
The pervasiveness of home violence in a given society, thus, is the outcome of implicit reception by that society. The way men analyze themselves as men, and the way they think of women, will verify whether they use aggression or intimidation against women. Studies of very young boys and girls show that even though boys may have an inferior acceptance for annoyance, and an inclination towards rough-and-tumble play, these tendencies are dwarfed by the magnitude of male socialization and peer demands into masculinity roles. UNFPA recognizes that ending gender-based violence will mean changing cultural concepts about masculinity, and that procedure should dynamically appoint men, whether they are strategy makers, parents, spouses or little boys.
Cross-cultural studies of wife abuse have found that nearly a fifth of peasant and small-scale societies are essentially free of family violence. The existence of such cultures proves that male violence against women is not the inevitable result of male biology or sexuality, but more a matter of how society views masculinity. Most domestic violence involves male anger directed against their women partners. This gender difference appears to be rooted in the way boys and men are socialized — biological factors do not seem to account for the dramatic differences in behavior in this regard between men and women. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to gender-based violence. Some husbands become more violent during the wife’s pregnancy, even kicking or hitting their wives in the belly. These women run twice the risk of miscarriage and four times the risk of having a low birth-weight baby.
Looking at the pprevalence of and reasons for domestic violence among women from low socioeconomic communities of Karachi, cross-sectional study were conducted to estimate the prevalence of domestic violence and identify the reasons for it among 400 married women aged 15-45 years in low socioeconomic areas in urban Karachi. Data were collected with a pretested questionnaire. The prevalence of verbal abuse was 97.5% by the husband and 97.0% by the in-laws; the prevalence of physical abuse was 80.0% and 57.5% by the husband and in-laws respectively. Financial issues were the commonest reason for domestic violence followed by infertility and not having a son. The prevalence of domestic violence in this sample of women is high. There is a need to address this problem with efforts from health workers, policy-makers, nongovernmental organizations and others (Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal 2007).
The majority of sexual assault victims are young. Women in positions of abject dependence on male authorities are also particularly subject to unwanted sexual coercion. Rape in time of war is still common. It has been extensively documented in recent civil conflicts, and has been used systematically as an instrument of torture or ethnic domination. Now, with precedents set at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, in Tanzania, and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, at The Hague, for mass rape, other acts such as sexual assault, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced sterilization, forced abortion, and forced pregnancy may qualify as crimes of torture, crimes against humanity, and even some as crimes of genocide. This vicious cycle of development, identity and gender-based violence in fact explains the empirical evidence of the association between gender based violence and poverty, the individual risk factors of alcohol and substance abuse, male unemployment, male educational status and childhood experience of violence. Poverty, lack of education and lack of healthcare increases both vulnerability and the likelihood of exposure to gender based violence. There has also been the prevalence of the sex trade among women as a means of earning income which ultimately has unbearable the consequences on its workers and on women in general. The objectification of women is also a pressing issue that cannot be ignored.
Violence, and women’s fear of it, limits women’s choices in virtually all spheres of life. It has long-term, as well as short-term consequences on women’s physical and emotional well-being. It detrimentally affects women’s ability to gain an education, earn a livelihood, develop human relationships and participate in public activities, including development programmes. There are different types of problems all over the world that women face, from the wealthiest countries to the poorest. In many countries, women are not entitled to own property or inherit land. Social exclusion, “honor” killings, female genital mutilation, trafficking, restricted mobility and early marriage among others, deny the right to health to women and girls and increase illness and death throughout the life-course. It will remain difficult for us to see sustainable progress unless we fix failures in health systems and society so that girls and women enjoy equal access to health information and services, education, employment and political positions.
Reports by UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, state that reasons for such disparity include the fact that women are generally underpaid and because they often perform low-status jobs, compared to men. UNICEF notes that the data isn’t always perfect, and that generalizations such as the above can hide wider fluctuations. “In Brazil, for example, women under the age of 25 earn a higher average hourly wage than their male counterparts.” (p.39)Women not only earn less than men but also tend to own fewer assets. Smaller salaries and less control over household income constrain their ability to accumulate capital. Gender biases in property and inheritance laws and in other channels of acquiring assets also leave women and children at greater risk of poverty. Paid employment for women does not automatically lead to better outcomes for children.
Factors such as the amount of time women spend working outside the household, the conditions under which they are employed and who controls the income they generate determine how the work undertaken by women in the labor market affects their own well-being and that of children (2007, p.36). Moreover, according to the United Nations, in no country in the world do men come anywhere close to women in the amount of time spent in housework. Furthermore, despite the efforts of feminist movements, women in the core [wealthiest, Western countries] still suffer disproportionately, leading to what sociologists refer to as the “feminization of poverty,” where two out of every three poor adults are women. The informal slogan of the Decade of Women became “Women do two-thirds of the world’s work, receive 10 percent of the world’s income and own 1 percent of the means of production” (Robbins 1999, p.354).”
Historically, economic recessions have placed a disproportionate burden on women. Women are more likely than men to be in vulnerable jobs, to be under-employed or without a job, to lack social protection, and to have limited access to and control over economic and financial resources. Policy responses to the financial crisis must take gender equality perspectives into account to ensure, for example, that women as well as men can benefit from employment creation and investments in social infrastructure. According to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs 2009, The economic and financial crisis puts a disproportionate burden on women, who are often concentrated in vulnerable employment, are more likely to be unemployed than men, tend to have lower unemployment and social security benefits, and have unequal access to and control over economic and financial resources. International statistics of the International Labor Organization showed that The economic crisis is expected to increase the number of unemployed women by up to 22 million in 2009, the International Labor Office (ILO) says in its annual Global Employment Trends for Women report (GET), adding that the global jobs crisis is expected to worsen sharply with the deepening of the recession in 2009.
In most societies, rape and domestic violence have on occasion provoked public outrage, but it has been left to women’s organizations and movements to take more concerted action. The North does not have all the answers to this problem as gender-based violence is very much in existence in the developed world. Because gender-based violence is sustained by silence, women’s voices must be heard. UNFPA puts every effort into enabling women to speak out against gender-based violence, and to get help when they are victims of it. The Fund is also committed to keeping gender-based violence in the spotlight as a major health and human rights concern. Another fascinating fact is that gender based violence is rampant in developed counties as compared to the developing countries. For instance, in a place like the U.S, despite the fact that advocacy groups like National Organization for Women (NOW) have worked for two decades to halt the epidemic of gender-based violence and sexual assault, the numbers are still shocking. Murder, Intimate Partner Violence or Battering, sexual violence and assault are common phenomena.
To the astonishment of most women across the globe, there is such a low conviction rate in gender-based violence cases, women are not believed by men and apparently even by fellow women. The judiciary imposes light sentences on such cases and even to some they are released on very modest bail or a mere warning. UNFPA advocates for legislative reform and enforcement of laws for the promotion and the protection of women’s rights to reproductive health choices and informed consent, including promotion of women’s awareness of laws , regulations and policies that affect their rights and responsibilities in family life. The Fund promotes zero tolerance of all forms of violence against women and works for the eradication of traditional practices that are harmful to women’s reproductive and sexual health, such as rituals associated with puberty. Possible victims have been offered legal, medical and psychological support, and medical referrals when necessary. Attention has been paid to involving communities, and to creating support networks for gender-based violence victims that include both police and health-care providers, along with counseling services. UNFPA has also held workshops for health providers on recognizing the effects of gender-based violence on women’s health, and on how to detect and prevent abuse and assist victims. These have stressed the need for confidentiality and monitoring. This body has also strengthening advocacy on gender-based violence in all country programmes, in conjunction with other United Nations partners and NGOs as well as advocating for women with parliamentarians and women’s national networks.
There have been strategies to counter violence against women and support the survivors. Case studies come from times of peace and times of armed conflict. Sections suggest strategies for transforming attitudes and beliefs in different societies that condone such violence, for supporting individual survivors, and to ensure that governments and NGOs fulfill their duty to protect woman. Women’s rights around the world are an important indicator to understand global well-being. A major global women’s rights treaty was ratified by the majority of the world’s nations a few decades ago. Yet, despite many successes in empowering women, numerous issues still exist in all areas of life, ranging from the cultural, political to the economic. For example, women often work more than men, yet are paid less; gender discrimination affects girls and women throughout their lifetime; and women and girls are often are the ones that suffer the most poverty. Many may think that women’s rights are only an issue in countries where religion is law, such as many Muslim countries. Or even worse, some may think this is no longer an issue at all. But reading this report about the United Nation’s Women’s Treaty and how an increasing number of countries are lodging reservations, will show otherwise. Gender equality furthers the cause of child survival and development for all of society, so the importance of women’s rights and gender equality should not be underestimated. As part of its work to counter gender-based violence, UNFPA has supported training of medical professionals, to make them more sensitive towards women who may have experienced violence and to meet their health needs.
Governments are not living up to their promises under the Women’s Convention to protect women from discrimination and violence such as rape and female genital mutilation.” There are many governments who have also not ratified the Convention, including the U.S. Many countries that have ratified it do so with many reservations. Gender equality and the well-being of children go hand in hand since it furthers the cause of child survival and development. It produces a double dividend: It benefits both women and children. Women’s equal rights and influence in the key decisions that shape their lives and those of children must be enhanced in three distinct arenas: the household, the workplace and the political sphere. Gender equality is not only morally right, it is pivotal to human progress and sustainable development.
Furthermore, this will be taking us closer to achieving the Millennium Development Goal Number 3-promoting gender equality and empowering women-will also contribute to achieving all the other goals, from reducing poverty and hunger to saving children’s lives, improving maternal health, ensuring universal education, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, and ensuring environmental sustainability. Pressure must be maintained on national governments to prioritise the coordination of programmes and policies across sectors such as health, justice, social welfare and education to ensure that the composite needs of survivors of violence are addressed. Of equal importance is scaling up responses that work – media campaigns, hotlines, and one-stop crisis centers and so on.
Basically, gender based violence limits women as human beings, drains their energy and hope, and constricts the possibilities of creating a new vision of society. Since it includes threats of violence, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private, Violence against women is a violation of women’s human rights, a cause and consequence of gender inequality, and a major cause of women’s ill health. It is a detriment to their well-being, very often a crime, and a significant cost to the resources of the wider society. As a consequence, there are policy issues across the whole range of subjects that concern governments. These issues are particularly important in the area of crime, health, family, education and economic well-being.
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