Violence against women is one of the cruelest and severe crimes against human rights today. Violence can include psychological, sexual, and physical assault which can cause the victim to suffer many psychological problems and can even cause the victim to resort to violence or suicide to free herself from abuse.
The United Nations reveals the in-depth forms of violence against women:
- intimate partner violence (battering, psychological abuse, marital rape, femicide);
- sexual violence and harassment (rape, forced sexual acts, unwanted sexual advances, child sexual abuse, forced marriage, street harassment, stalking, cyber- harassment);
- human trafficking (slavery, sexual exploitation);
- female genital mutilation; and
- child marriage.
Generally, many acts of violence against women are often carried out by criminals who perceive women to be the weaker sex, therefore, easy pickings. But apart from criminal assaults, the fact is that women face a more insidious form of violence committed, daily, not by a total stranger but in most cases, by their loved ones – husbands, their brothers, and even in a few cases, by their own sons.
The National Organization for Women in the United States tells the staggering truth of murders or women by a partner in the U.S:
‘In 2005, 1,181 women were murdered by an intimate partner. That’s an average of three women every day.
30% of women according to the report to inform the police or social services of the assault. The NOW added:
According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes every year.
Data from the Justice Department shows the lower the income in the family, the more likely the higher the rate of domestic violence. Women in the lowest income category experiences more than six times the rate of ‘nonfatal intimate partner’ violence as women living in high earning households. However, it should be noted violence can affect women and girls of all socio-economic backgrounds with the crime needing to be addressed in developing and developed countries.
Lets look at violence against women on a global scale. In some societies it is a strongly held belief that men have a moral right to dominate women. Oxfam underpins this chain of thought:
norms are based on shared beliefs and expectations about how people should behave. They include male entitlement, domination and control over the bodies of women and girls, and rigid gender roles, as highlighted in an Oxfam’s research from 12 countries across Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and the Pacific.
Let’s look at some of the opinions that promote violence against women:
- Women must be submissive to male family members
- Men have the right to discipline women for ‘incorrect’ behavior
- Men are expected to hod complete power in families
- Sexual harassment is part of normal behavior
- Women cannot dent their partner sex
- Girls are seen as wives before anything else
- All women should become mothers
- Only heterosexual women are allowed in society
- Women should not dress provocatively
- Divorced women hold less value
The outcome of violence against women not only brings unhappiness to the family and splits households, causing more financial problems and mistrust, the serious crime has negative effects on societies. The national goals of achieving equality, development, peace as well as promoting personal fulfillment of women and girls’ human rights are erased by the crime of violence against women. World Bank Org claims in some countries:
violence against women is estimated to cost countries up to 3.7% of their GDP – more than double what most governments spend on education.
There are societies where it is considered normal to beat a woman in public if she dares to question her husband. Yes, we do live in challenging times, especially women and the fact that such societies with barbaric one-sided laws on women exist, is something that we must all strive against. With mass migration of people to more developed countries, people around the world are learning more of customs and societies that harm women.
According to Equality Now and City University London, an estimated ‘103,000 women and girls aged 15–49 were thought to be living with female genital mutilation in England and Wales as of 2011,’ and yet research shows many British people are unaware of these figures.
Family violence is dangerous and is associated with several types of harm, both to a pregnant mother and to her unborn baby. These include:
- fetal distress and injury
- a lower birth weight
- miscarriage or premature labor
If a pregnant woman lets you know that she is being abused, you can support her by:
- listening without making any judgments
- telling her you believe her and it’s not her fault and support her
- letting her know you’ll go with her to the support organization if she wants
- Offering to find her support service numbers
- stay in touch and continuing to check how she is
According to some psychologists, those committing violence on women had been exposed to the scourge of domestic violence during their childhood where they grew up with the idea that it is normal. So essentially, these men are supposed to have picked up that it is okay to beat women, as they watched their mother being physically abused by their father. Irrespective of their upbringing, no man has the right to take out his rage on a woman, physically.
This is why we should ensure that our children understand that they need to treat all people equally and that it is never okay to commit a violent act against another person, no matter the provocation.
How can we spot victims of violence? According to Psychology Today the abuser can leave devastating affects on a woman which can include:
both short and long-term emotional and psychological effects, including feelings of confusion or hopelessness, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It can take time before victims of domestic violence recognize their situation as a victim of abuse. Violence against women often leaves physical marks, from broken bones, cuts, bruises to shortness of breath and involuntary shaking.
What clues are there that someone is an abuser of women?
Psychology Today claims: ‘Abusers often isolate their victims from family, friends, work, and any other outside sources of support. They may have explosive tempers and may become violent during an abusive episode; afterward, they become remorseful and try to woo their partner back.’
Violence against women of course, is not limited to people women know. ‘Stranger Danger’ does exist. Newspapers are always printing terrible stories of violence against women. There are some common sense rules that can help women avoid violence. Try not to walk alone at night in badly lit areas, don’t hitch hike or pick up strange men asking for a lift. Stay away from gangs by heading in the opposite direction or making a wide arc around them. Common sense is the key. Download an alarm APP on your phone like Circle of 6 or the ‘bsafe’ APP.
Staggeringly an international study revealed last year more than 125,000 people from all socioeconomic backgrounds found children who witnessed domestic violence had the same risk and attacks of PTSD as soldiers returning from war.
Leaving an abuser is not easy
A victim’s reasons for staying with their abusers can be various and hugely complex. In most cases, are based on the fear their abuser will follow through with the threats they have used to keep them in a form of monetary imprisonment. Fear the abuser will hurt or kill them, they will punish or murder the children or they will win custody of the kids. Other fears of leaving are down to life’s basics such as the fear of being homeless or a decline in living conditions for themselves and her children. They may fear the police won’t help or will do little. Some religious and cultural issues may dissuade the abused from leaving the abuser.
Domestic violence against women is a serious issue and one that we all need to take seriously and given the increasing number of victims. Remember It is never OK for someone to abuse you. If you are in immediate danger, call the police. Which ever country you reside in check search engines for your local National Sexual Assault office, or Domestic Family Violence Counseling Service. If anyone in your household is violent toward you don’t learn to accept it. Contact the authorities. If you are at school tell a teacher.
If your mother is being assaulted call the police or look for your local domestic help organization on the internet. After all, she has given so much, from giving birth, feeding and raising. It is time that the favor is returned.