Today starts the annual campaign 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. It is a start, but honestly, not enough. It is amazing how intertwined ideas of violence against women are in our society and how often they are seemingly invisible and accepted. Let’s start with some information from Rutgers:
What is Gender-based Violence?
Violence against women is a pervasive human rights violation, a public health crisis, and an obstacle to equality, development, security, and peace. The terms “violence against women” and “gender-based violence” are used to refer to the range of abuses committed against women that stem from gender inequality and women’s subordinate status in society relative to men. Violence against women, including during war, is used to drive fear, and terrorize and humiliate women, their families and communities.
In 1993, the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women defined violence against women as “any act of gender-based 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.” This definition includes violence occurring in the family, within the general community, and violence perpetrated or condoned by the State.
Forms of gender-based violence include, but are not limited to: domestic violence, sexual abuse, rape, sexual harassment, trafficking in women, forced prostitution, and harmful practices. These forms of violence can result in physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health and other health problems. In addition, women’s multiple and intersecting identities based on factors such as class, race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexuality and citizenship status can serve to increase their vulnerability to violence.
This year’s theme is: From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women! It is a great theme and something we need to talk about. Still, I was even more heartened to see Albania taking a slightly different take: Boys and men, part of the solution – Show you are against violence! Too often discussions about gender-based violence take place in a woman filled vacuum. Men and boys are left out of the equation and demonized. The truth is that the patriarchy is damaging to both sexes and true change only comes when both women and men are involved in the process.
And, finally, some resources:
- Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights.
- Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Violence against women: 01/29/1992. CEDAW General Recommendation 19, A/47/38. (General Comments).
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). 1979.
- Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. 1993. A/RES/48/104
- Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.1998. A/RES/53/144
- Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
- Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences,
- Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition