Young Feminists Movement

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VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN



UN DEFINITION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN


The term ”violence against women” means any act of gender-Basedd 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 deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.Violence against women shall be understood to encompass, but not be limited to, the following:


  1. 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 related to exploitation;
  1. 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;
  1. Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.

Source: Declaration on Violence against Women, United Nations General Assembly, Resolution A/RES/48/104; 20 December 1993



FORMS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN


  1. Physical assault such as striking, pushing, punching, pinching, hair-pulling, hitting with an object, injuring or threatening with a weapon, burning, throttling etc.
  2. Damage to property, destroying furnishings or personal belongings, inflicting pain on pets etc.
  3. Menacing behaviour and coercion are also common forms of physical violence, such as: ”If you leave me, I’ll kill you ...”, ”I’ll kill the whole family ...”, ”I’ll slash your face ...”,”I’ll take the children away from you ...” etc.
  4. Threats of violence against others (relatives, pets ...) are another means of coercion. This kind of intimidation and extortion makes actual physical violence ”redundant” – the fear it inspires already has the desired effect.
  5. Harassment like incessant telephone calls, calls in the middle of the night, threatening letters, following and stalking to and from work etc.
  6. Isolation is a strategy frequently used to manipulate and control the victim. Isolation can take various forms: prevention from seeing relatives or friends, locking up at home, disconnecting the telephone, disallowing use of the car etc.
  7. Verbal abuse, denigration and slander erode the victim’s self-esteem and mental health. In time the woman loses her confidence in her own value, her identity and feelings, her rights and her ability to manage her own life. This form of violence encompasses: ridiculing the victim in company, making insulting remarks about her appearance or character, and assertions that she is insane or mentally ill, imagining things, a likely candidate for suicide etc. Such insinuations often serve to divert attention away from the perpetrator’s own actions.
  8. Economic violence implies an imbalance in access to financial resources and exploitation of a stronger economic position. Within the family this can take the form of the perpetrator providing too little money for domestic expenses and / or keeping sources of income, assets or expenditure secret from the victim.


Source: Austrian Autonomous Women’s Shelter Network, Quality Survey, Vienna 2000



VIOLENCE WITHIN THE FEMALE LIFE CYCLE


Gender-Basedd violence (GBV) affects the entire life cycle of women. At any point in their lives women can be subjected to forms of violence such as the threat of sexual assault, rape or incest. While boys are also at risk, the possibility that girls are raped or sexually assaulted is much higher than it is for their brothers. Furthermore, those inflicting violence on women are as diverse as are the opportunities to abuse; the perpetrators can be family members, those in positions of trust or power, or even strangers. Often women are confronted with interdependent und cumulative patterns of violence, when physical, economic and emotional forms of violence reinforce each other.


The fear of violence, including harassment, is not only a permanent strain on the self-esteem and confidence of women, it also negatively influences their mobility and access to resources, as well as their basic social, economic and political activities.Violence against women has an intergenerational impact: boys and girls learn and reproduce largely in accordance with the gender-roles demonstrated by their parents. Indeed, men who witness and experience violence as children are more likely to use violence against their own spouse or children. By the same token, women who witness and experience abuse as children are more likely to become victims in their adult life. Interestingly, women who have undergone female genital mutilation are also more likely to advocate or allow FGM to happen to their female relatives.


It is important to note that there are some specific forms of violence against women, which only occur within a specific cultural setting. Examples of this are: dowry-related violence; female infanticide and selective abortion of female foetuses; honour killings; and female genital mutilation. Although there is undeniably some cultural variation in violence, one has to keep in mind that gender-Basedd violence has universal features. Violence is a structural problem in many societies of the world even if there are differences in the forms in which this abuse of power is manifested. The following table shows a classification of the various forms of gender-Basedd violence that can take place within the female life cycle.


Violence in the Female Life Cycle


Pre-natal






Infancy






Childhood








Adolescence and Reproductive Age























Old Age







  • Sex-selective fertilisation
  • Sex-selective abortion
  • Violence against pregnant mothers which affects the foetus
  • Female infanticide


  • Unequal access to food and medical care
  • Neglect
  • Genital mutilation
  • Incest and sexual abuse


  • Genital mutilation
  • Incest and sexual abuse
  • Unequal access to food, medical care and education
  • Child labour, child prostitution and trafficking


  • Incest and sexual abuse
  • Dating and courtship violence
  • Economically coerced sex
  • Forced marriage
  • Rape
  • Marital rape
  • Sexual harassment and abuse on the way to, or from, school/
  • the workplace
  • Sexual harassment and abuse at school/at the workplace
  • Denial of sexual self-determination, like using contraceptions
  • and other family planning methods, denial of safe sex in times
  • of HIV/AIDS
  • Forced prostitution and trafficking
  • Psychological abuse by partner and relatives
  • Physical abuse by partner and relatives
  • Dowry-related crimes and murder
  • Honour killings
  • Forced sterilization
  • Forced abortion
  • Abuse and rape of women with disabilities
  • Persecution of lesbians
  • Abuse and exploitation of young widows
  • Repeated genital mutilation after child birth (infibulation)


  • Abuse of widows
  • Accusation and rituals related to witchcraft
  • Forced “suicide” or homicide of widows for economic reasons
  • Neglect of older women
  • Psychological abuse by partner and relatives
  • Physical abuse by partner and relatives
  • Rape
  • Sexual harassment



Source: Strengthening Women Rights; Ending violence against women and girls- Protecting Human Rights: Good Practices for Development cooperation; 2005 by GTZ.