World Health Organization (WHO) has statistically found that 1 in 3 women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Violence against women is any act of gender-based violence that has the consequences of physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women. This act occurs both in public or private settings and is motivated by either threat of coercion. Hence, violence against women is an act of depriving women’s liberty. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women holds us accountable for categorizing violence against women as a matter of human rights. We need to recognize and address this day to empower women and position them not as passive recipients of discretionary benefits but as active rights-holders.
Violence against women is a global crisis that has no boundaries of geography or culture. Methods of this act vary depending on the specific social, economic, cultural, and political contexts. Some forms of violence may grow in importance while others diminish as societies undergo demographic changes, financial restructuring, and social and cultural shifts. For example, new technologies may generate new forms of violence, such as the Internet or mobile telephone stalking. At the global level, the most common forms of violence against women include:
- Intimate partner violence and other forms of family violence
- Sexual violence
- Female genital mutilation (FGM)
- Human trafficking, including forced prostitution and economic exploitation of girls and women
- Violence against women in humanitarian and conflict settings
Thus, it is crucial to recognize violence against women as an act of discrimination and human rights violation to provide an entry point for understanding the broader context from which such animosities emerge and related risk factors.
Factors increasing a woman’s risk of experiencing violence
Factors addressing the violence against women
The challenges and obstacles in the brutality against women are significantly varied. It lies in political will and responsibility at the most significant levels, how this gets expressed, enacted, and strategized. Structural imbalances of power and inequality between women and men are both the context and causes of violence against women. One such pragmatic challenge is the elimination of discriminatory sociocultural attitudes and economic imbalance that reinforce women’s subordinate place in society. The elimination of violence and discrimination against women in all spheres requires a comprehensive, coordinated, and sustained effort.
Violence against women in the context of the Coronavirus pandemic
- An article in The Indian Express draws attention to the fact that many people in Mumbai do not have household water connections. With rising summer temperatures, people spending more time at homes during lockdowns, and emphasis on handwashing, there comes the need for household water. Consequently, many women are turning to underground water market operating under the cloak of darkness. Moreover, women have been spending more time queuing up for water and often approach the market in the wee hours of mornings, where they often face verbal and sexual harassment.
- Violence generally is on the rise in the face of pandemics. According to UNFPA , pandemic situations often lead to breakdowns of social infrastructures, thus, compounding existing weaknesses and conflicts. As a result, the existing gender inequality has worsened by pandemic situations. It also increases children and women’s exposure to harassment and sexual violence when they try to procure necessities such as water, food, and firewood. During quarantine, as more women were in informal jobs and got laid off, this led to them experiencing a more significant impact as they became economically dependent on their male counterparts.
- Globally, 30% of women have experienced physical and(or) sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
- Adolescent girls, young women, women belonging to ethnic and other minorities, transwomen, and women with disabilities face a higher risk of different forms of violence.
- The majority (55-95%) of women survivors of such injustices do not disclose or seek any assistance.
- Globally, between 38%-50% of murders of women are committed by intimate partners.
- Humanitarian emergencies may exacerbate existing violence and lead to additional forms of violence against women and girls.