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STOP – VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Why mention this now if at all? This is such an important issue in the world today that it needs to be address often and faced daily. And not just on the one day a year that is dedicated to it. The phrase violence against women is a technical term used to collectively refer to violent acts that are primarily or exclusively committed against women. Similar to a hate crime, this type of violence targets a specific group with the victim’s gender as a primary motive.
Unfortunately this is becoming more and more of a serious problem, not just in every corner or the United States, but all over the globe, and it is long past time that something be done to alleviate this problem. Even though there are theories as to why this has become more of a hot button issue, some of the reasons still appear a mystery, but people’s actions and behaviors need to be changed/modified and done now. Especially if it takes involvement from a higher source. I have provided a guideline of sorts in order to better explain some of the issues.
The UN General Assembly defines “violence against women” as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.” The 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women has noted that this violence could be perpetrated by assailants of gender, family members and even the “State” itself. Worldwide governments and organizations actively work to combat violence against women through a variety of programs. AUN resolution has designated the 25th of November as International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women. As I have found there are many historians that believe that the violence against women is tied to the history of women being viewed as property and a gender role assigned to be subservient to men and also other women. This Declaration states that “violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.” The World Health Organization has reported that violence against women puts an undue burden on health care services with women who have suffered violence being more likely to need health services and at higher cost, compared to women who have not suffered violence. Studies have shown that one of the best predictors of inter- and intra-national violence is the maltreatment of women in the society.
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, or below the legal age of consent. According to the American Medical Association, sexual violence, and rape in particular, is considered the most underreported violent crime. The rate of reporting, prosecution and convictions for rape varies considerably in different jurisdictions. Rape by strangers is usually less common than rape by persons the victim knows. Victims of rape can be severely traumatized and may suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder. In addition to psychological harm resulting from the act, rape may cause physical injury and/or additional effects on the victim. Following a rape, a victim may face violence or threats of thereof from the rapist, and, in some cultures, from the victim’s own family and relatives. Violence or intimidation of the victim may be perpetrated by the rapist or by friends and relatives of the rapist, as a way of preventing the victims from reporting the rape, of punishing them for reporting it, or of forcing them to withdraw the complaint; or it may be perpetrated by the relatives of the victim as a punishment for “bringing shame” to the family. This is especially the case in cultures where female virginity is highly valued and considered mandatory before marriage; in extreme cases, rape victims are killed in honor killings. Victims may also be forced by their families to marry the rapist in order to restore the family’s “honor”.
Women are more likely to be victimized by someone that they are intimate with, commonly called “Intimate Partner Violence” or IPV. Instances of IPV tend not to be reported to police and thus many experts believe that the true magnitude of the problem is hard to estimate. Women are much more likely than men to be murdered by an intimate partner. This is a sad reality today.
Honor killings are a common form of violence against women in certain parts of the world. In honor killings, women and girls are killed by family members (usually husbands, fathers, uncles or brothers) because the women are believed to have brought shame or dishonor upon the family. These killings are a traditional practice, believed to have originated from tribal customs where an allegation against a woman can be enough to defile a family’s reputation. Women are killed for reasons such as refusing to enter an arranged marriage, being in a relationship that is disapproved by their relatives, attempting to leave a marriage, having sex outside marriage, becoming the victim of rape, dressing in ways which are deemed inappropriate. Honor killings also occur in immigrant communities in Europe, the United States and Canada. Although honor killings are most often associated with the Middle East and South Asia, they occur in other parts of the world as well.
The custom of dowry, which is common in South Asia, especially in India, is the trigger of many forms of violence against women. Bride burning is a form of violence against women in which a bride is killed at home by her husband or husband’s family due to his dissatisfaction over the dowry provided by her family. Dowry death refers to the phenomenon of women and girls being killed or committing suicide due to disputes regarding dowry. Dowry violence is common in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In India, in 2011 alone, the National Crime Records Bureau reported 8,618 dowry deaths, while unofficial figures suggest the numbers to be at least three times higher.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is defined by WHO as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” According to a 2013 UNICEF report, 125 million women and girls in Africa and the Middle East have experienced FGM. The WHO states that: “The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women” and FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. Plus could cause a host of other problems. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women.”
Acid throwing, also called acid attack is defined as the act of throwing acid onto the body of a person “with the intention of injuring or disfiguring them out of jealousy or revenge” The most common types of acid used in these attacks are sulfuric, nitric, or hydrochloric acid. Perpetrators of these attacks throw acid at their victims, usually at their faces, burning them, and damaging skin tissue, often exposing and sometimes dissolving the bones. The long term consequences of these attacks include blindness and permanent scarring of the face and body. Women and girls are the victims in 75-80% of cases. Acid attacks are often connected to domestic disputes, including dowry disputes, and refusal of a proposition for marriage, or of sexual advances. Such attacks are common in South Asia, in countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, India; and in Southeast Asia, especially in Cambodia. Then there is the issue of forced marriage is a marriage in which one or both of the parties are married against their will. Forced marriages are common in South Asia, the Middle East and Africa. A forced marriage is also often the result of a dispute between families, where the dispute is ‘resolved’ by giving a female from one family to the other. The custom of bride kidnapping continues to exist in some societies, such as Central Asia and the Caucasus, or parts of Africa, especially Ethiopia. A girl or a woman is abducted by the potential groom, who is often helped by his friends. The victim is often raped by the potential groom, after which he may try to negotiate a bride price with the village elders to legitimize the marriage.
When police officers misuse their power as agents of the state to physically and sexually harass and assault victims, the survivors, including women, feel much less able to report the violence. It is standard procedure for police to force entry into the victim’s home even after the victim’s numerous requests for them to go away. Shelter workers are often reduced themselves to contributing to violence against women by exploiting their vulnerability in exchange for a paying job. Human rights violations perpetrated by police and military personnel in many countries are correlated with decreased access to public health services and increased practices of risky behavior among members of vulnerable groups, such as women and female sex workers These practices are especially widespread in settings with a weak rule of law and low levels of police and military management and professionalism. Police abuse in this context has been linked to a wide range of risky behaviors and health outcomes, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance abuse. Extortion of sexual services and police sexual abuse have been linked to a decrease in condom use and an elevated risk of STI and HIV infections among vulnerable groups.
Stoning refers to a form of capital punishment whereby an organized group throws stones at an individual until the person dies. Stoning is a punishment that is included in the laws of several countries and is also used, as punishment for adultery. Flogging or flagellation is the act of methodically beating or whipping the human body. It is a judicial punishment in various countries for specific crimes, including sex outside marriage. These punishments employed for sexual relations outside marriage, apart from constituting a form of violence in themselves, can also deter victims of sexual violence from reporting the crime, because the victims may themselves be punished (if they cannot prove their case, if they are deemed to have been in the company of an unrelated male, or if they were unmarried and not virgins at the time of the rape).