Violence Against Women - Global Scenario - Seeker's Thoughts

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Violence Against Women - Global Scenario

Violence Against Women - Global Scenario

Violence against women (also referred to as gender-based violence) is an overlooked global crisis that denies them their human rights, harms health care delivery systems and traps them in poverty.

Global inequality and patriarchy play an influential role in creating this type of violence, which usually manifests during conflict or post-conflict settings. Domestic abuse and non-partner sexual violence are just two forms of this form of aggression.


Social change.


Preventing violence against women requires shifting norms and structures that promote it, including changing attitudes like those that support it such as believing women must be "available" to men or that sexism and misogyny are acceptable practices. This may involve challenging attitudes such as believing that violence against women should occur naturally and unchecked; challenging beliefs such as that women should "available" themselves as potential partners; as well as uprooting structures such as police brutality that promote it.

Violence against women has an enormously profound effect on health outcomes. Violence leads to serious injuries - including suicide and homicide - as well as increased risks for unintended pregnancy, abortion, pelvic inflammatory disease, fibroid tumours, endometriosis and cystic uterus for victims. Women who have experienced intimate partner violence are more likely to contract HIV, leading to increased risks of sexually transmitted infection as well as physical problems like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain syndromes and gastrointestinal disorders for victims.

Social change comes in various forms, from an individual reporting an assault to mobilising an entire community against domestic violence against women. Social transformation may involve critical examinations of gender roles and acceptance of violence within society or it may support women-led organizations advocating for gender equality and human rights.

Interventions designed to address violence against women must cover a range of areas. Interventions must prioritize women's safety within communities while simultaneously targeting root causes of such violence - including unequal power relationships, cultural beliefs and ideologies, weak legal sanctions etc. These efforts should also include advocacy to make violence against women unacceptable.

But it is essential to recognize the limitations of interventions based on changing men's attitudes as a key component in stopping violence against women. This may especially apply in contexts with limited external sanctions where increasing costs associated with violence might not lead to noticeable shifts in behavior changes among women; in such situations a single woman's efforts might have only marginal results, and interventions meant to alter these men's views must be scaled up accordingly.


Economic change.


Gender-based violence often stems from economic causes, including poverty, lack of education or employment opportunities, weak legal systems and weak social support networks. Economic change can create new opportunities for women while simultaneously increasing their economic power within households.

Financial independence allows women to leave abusive relationships more easily; however, economic changes that reduce women's opportunities in wage economies may present men who use violence against them with an opening for abuse. Over time, high levels of violence against women can lead to decreased productivity in an economy as private investments decline resulting in less private spending in health care, justice services and other areas.

Gender-based violence (GBV) is most often witnessed in countries with lower economic development levels, histories of colonization or oppression along ethnic or racial lines, higher interpersonal aggression rates and weak state institutions (Garcia-Moreno et al. 2010; Fulu Warner Miedema Jewkes Roselli 2013). Indigenous peoples; historically marginalized racial and ethnic populations; minority religious communities; persons with disabilities; older persons/widows/migrants displaced people from conflict zones/fragile states all are vulnerable.

Recent research by IMF staff indicates that domestic violence costs countries up to 2 percent of their GDP due to lost economic activity due to decreased productivity and expenditure on public goods, in addition to costs related to women's decreased ability to contribute income or support education for their children and the financial burden imposed upon victims of domestic violence who need incarceration and treatment services.

GBV is an intricacie issue, requiring commitment from all actors at every level of society, especially economic drivers of violence against women. Policies need to be created so as to safeguard and advance women's rights during times of transition and change.


Political change.


After years of advocacy, Sri Lanka passed the Preventive Domestic Violence Act (PDVA Bill). This landmark legislation put partner violence firmly on the political agenda. PDVA Bill also provided for medical professionals to provide health care and counselling for women experiencing domestic violence as well as made clear that violence against women was a human rights violation - making 2005 an historic moment.

It paved the way for further legislative changes, including criminalizing physical and sexual intimate partner violence; developing a new definition of femicide (the killing of a woman by her intimate partner); expanding health sector capacity to respond to VAW through gender-specific programs at all levels; as well as creating an office within Ministry of Health dedicated to preventing and responding to violence against women which served as an essential focal point.

With political elections and regime change in 2016, an opportunity presented itself for VAW to gain prominence at an executive policy level. The Ministry of Health was responsive and supportive of taking an holistic approach to this problem; acknowledging both a public health approach as well as health sector responses through family planning programmes and Maternal and Child Health/Family Planning clinics to address VAW; it also recognized and accepted improving capacity for collecting disaggregated data on VAW.

Still, women seeking or attaining political office often encounter many hurdles to success. Even once elected to office, many female politicians often face harassment and discrimination from colleagues as well as threats of physical violence against themselves and their family members - which may dissuade them from running for or holding political office in the first place.

Physical abuse remains prevalent across societies worldwide and sexual violence persists affecting both women and men alike. Women face discrimination at work, schools and universities as well as in their community - and violence at home disproportionately affects them. Multiple studies demonstrate the economic costs associated with violence against women; it has been estimated to reduce global economic productivity by as much as four percent.


Cultural change.


Culture is the shared framework of beliefs and values that define a people's identity, foster pride and resilience, and form the basis for social structures. Culture can also serve as an effective tool to advance or hinder gender justice: for instance, cultural norms which privilege male masculinity could promote gender-based violence while one that celebrates women and their contributions may serve as an antidote.

Studies of men's attitudes toward wife beating and other forms of intimate partner violence have typically focused on individual moral judgments (e.g., World Value Survey). Yet cultures influence men's morality in ways that also shape violence: by minimizing it as accidental or part of "traditional" explanations; encouraging acceptance or denouncing it entirely (De Waal 1996).

Globalizing ecological analysis provides the means of linking individual moral judgments with macro-level forces that shape societal values and norms. For instance, an economic trend could impact risk factors for violence against women by changing employment and household structures; this would then alter their power/authority within families.

Access to wages can empower women and increase financial autonomy, increasing the odds that they leave an abusive relationship (Kishor & Johnson 2004). On the other hand, having male spouses or significant others with jobs decreases this likelihood since this increases dependence on men for income while making it harder for them to find other sources of revenue.

Additionally, legalized gender-based violence and domestic discrimination is another factor that influences violence against women. A legal system which supports women's right to equality and freedom may decrease instances of abuse by helping victims seek justice through community organizations or institutions; while one which allows gender-based violence without consequences could allow perpetrators to commit crimes without facing punishment.