‘Gender-based violence’ and ‘violence against women’ are terms that are often used interchangeably as most gender-based violence is inflicted by men on women and girls. However, it is important to retain the ‘gender-based’ aspect of the concept as this highlights the fact that violence against women is an expression of power inequalities between women and men.
The terms are used interchangeably throughout this website and EIGE’s work, as it is always understood that gender-based violence means violence against women and vice versa.
1. When talking about Violence against Women, we’re not referring solely to physical violence. After all, this is not the only kind of violence a person can experience.
2. What is Violence Against Women?
The United Nations 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.”
3. Violence against women includes, but is not limited to:
- Gender-based violence
- Rape, marital rape and incest
- Murder and assault including dowry-related violence and honour killings
- Forced marriage
- Female genital mutilation
- Human trafficking including cross-border prostitution rings and bride kidnappings
- War crimes including rape as a weapon of war
4. The United Nations General Assembly has designated November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (Resolution 54/134).
5. The premise of the day is to raise awareness of the fact that women around the world are subject to rape, domestic violence and other forms of violence; furthermore, one of the aims of the day is to highlight that the scale and true nature of the issue is often hidden.
6. For 2014, the official Theme framed by the UN Secretary-General’s campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women, is Orange your Neighbourhood.
7. Violence against women is rooted in unequal power relationships between men and women in society. In a broader context, structural relationships of inequalities in politics, religion, media and discriminatory cultural norms perpetuate violence against girls and women.
8. Violence against women is a global problem and not limited to a specific group of women in society. However, the forms of violence might be shaped differently based on factors such as sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, class, age, nationality.
9. Significantly, Immigrant and Aboriginal women are further marginalized due to ongoing racism, which contributes to violence and is internalized by marginalized people impeding their social and personal power.Poverty, isolation from family and friends, language difficulties, and homelessness also contribute to the victimization of the most vulnerable women in society.
10. In a male-dominant society, male privilege becomes the norm and contributes to the belief and behaviour of men that they have the right to control women.
11. It is estimated that 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives. However, some national studies show that up to 70 per cent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.
12. Women who have been physically or sexually abused by their partners are more than twice as likely to have an abortion, almost twice as likely to experience depression, and in some regions, 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV, as compared to women who have not experienced partner violence.
13. Although little data is available—and great variation in how psychological violence is measured across countries and cultures—existing evidence shows high prevalence rates. Forty-three per cent of women in the 28 European Union Member States have experienced some form of psychological violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
14. It is estimated that of all women who were the victims of homicide globally in 2012, almost half were killed by intimate partners or family members, compared to less than six per cent of men killed in the same year.
15. In 2012, a study conducted in New Delhi found that 92 per cent of women reported having experienced some form of sexual violence in public spaces in their lifetime, and 88 per cent of women reported having experienced some form of verbal sexual harassment (including unwelcome comments of a sexual nature, whistling, leering or making obscene gestures) in their lifetime.
16. Worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married as children (below 18 years of age). Of those women, more than 1 in 3—or some 250 million—were married before 15. Child brides are often unable to effectively negotiate safe sex, leaving them vulnerable to early pregnancy as well as sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
17. Around 120 million girls worldwide (slightly more than 1 in 10) have experienced forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point in their lives. By far the most common perpetrators of sexual violence against girls are current or former husbands, partners or boyfriends.
18. In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, between 40 and 70 percent of female murder victims were killed by their intimate partners.
19. Up to 70 percent of women experience physical or sexual violence from men in their lifetime — the majority by husbands, intimate partners or someone they know.
20. Both intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women are major public health problems and violations of women’s human rights.
21. Worldwide, up to 50 percent of sexual assaults are committed against girls under 16.
22. As many as 1 in 4 women experience physical and/or sexual violence during pregnancy which increases the likelihood of having a miscarriage, still birth and abortion.
23. Every year 5,000 women are murdered by their relatives to protect the “honour” of the family.
24. Women and girls are still being forced into marriages against their will, particularly in Asia, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. Over 60 million girls worldwide married before the age of 18 primarily in South Asia (31.3 million) and sub-Saharan Africa (14.1 million).
24. Women who are beaten by their partners are 48 per cent more likely to be infected with HIV/AIDS.
25. 2.5 million people are trafficked annually into situations including prostitution, forced labour, slavery or servitude. Women and girls account for about 80 per cent of the detected victims.
26. One in 10 women in the European Union report having experienced cyber-harassment since the age of 15 (including having received unwanted, offensive sexually explicit emails or SMS messages, or offensive, inappropriate advances on social networking sites). The risk is highest among young women between 18 and 29 years of age.
27. An estimated 246 million girls and boys experience school-related violence every year and one in four girls say that they never feel comfortable using school latrines, according to a survey on youth conducted across four regions.
28. The extent and forms of school-related violence that girls and boys experience differ, but evidence suggests that girls are at greater risk of sexual violence, harassment and exploitation.
29. In addition to the resulting adverse psychological, sexual and reproductive health consequences, school-related gender-based violence is a major obstacle to universal schooling and the right to education for girls.
30. In the majority of countries with available data, less than 40 per cent of the women who experience violence seek help of any sort. Among women who do, most look to family and friends and very few look to formal institutions and mechanisms, such as police and health services. Less than 10 per cent of those women seeking help for experience of violence sought help by appealing to the police.
31. At least 119 countries have passed laws on domestic violence, 125 have laws on sexual harassment and 52 have laws on marital rape. However, even when laws exist, this does not mean they are always compliant with international standards and recommendations or implemented.
32. Availability of data on violence against women has increased significantly in recent years. Since 1995, more than 100 countries have conducted at least one survey addressing the issue. Forty-four countries undertook a survey in the period between 1995 and 2004, and 89 countries did so in the period between 2005 and 2014, suggesting growing interest in this issue.
33. More than 40 countries conducted at least two surveys in the period between 1995 and 2014, which means that, depending on the comparability of the surveys, changes over time could be analysed.