When does violence against women stop?

Published November 24th, 2022 - 02:42 GMT
When does violence against women stop?
Days like International Day for the Eliminiation of Violence Against Women serve as an important reminder that we still have a long way to go when it comes to building a world where ALL women feel safe. (shutterstock)

736 million. 

That’s the estimated number of women who have experienced physical/sexual violence at least once in their lives. This means that around 1 in 3 women will be subjected to a form of violence. 

1 in every 3 women. Let that sink in. 

The numbers are terrifying and make me think of all the women out there. 

I have two sisters, does that mean one of us has or will at some point be subjected to violence? 

I have three brilliant nieces, does that mean they are at risk? 

Learning about these statistics scares me beyond words. But what is even more terrifying is hearing real-life stories about women experiencing the utmost kinds of injustice simply because they are women. 

Violence against women takes on different forms and degrees. Whether it is physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological, violence against women is in itself a human right violation and has to be combatted urgently and viciously. 

Gender-based Violence

Already a deafening reality, violence against women increased since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. As families were forced to spend even more time at home, women began feeling more unsafe at home. In fact, reports show that 1 out of every 2 women has either experienced or knows a woman who experienced domestic violence since the beginning of the pandemic.

While violence against women is a prevalent human rights violation around the globe, the UN states that women living in low- and medium-income countries are more vulnerable. It is reported that 22% of women living in less developed countries have been subjected to intimate partner violence, which is significantly higher than the world average of 13%. 

For instance, ranked third in reports of violence since the pandemic, reports indicate that 26% of wives in Jordan are abused by their husbands.

However, the real issue with violence is that it doesn’t only happen domestically, because women are also vulnerable to harassment on the street, at schools or work, and really anywhere. From passing comments on the street and groping to raping, sexual violence affects millions of girls and women each year. In MENA, 40%-60% of women report having experienced street-based sexual harassment in the form of sexual comments, stalking, and staring. It is said that around 45% to 55% of women in the European Union were subject to sexual harassment since the age of 15. However, the real number of sexual violence victims might be underreported due to the stigma and shame surrounding it. 

Forced sex, or rape, also affects millions of girls worldwide. Globally, it is said that 15M girls between the ages of 15 and 49 were raped. The scar left by any form of violence, especially rape, can result in detrimental effects on the overall wellbeing of women. One 13-year-old child was raped by a neighbor on The Comoros Island. The rape survivor, who is a child herself, became a mother 9 months later. 

“At 16, I have a daughter who is almost one and a half years old.” - Mariama

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a crime affecting millions of people worldwide. However, women are among the most affected by this heinous crime. The UN reports that 72% of trafficked victims are women, most of which are trafficked for sexual exploitation. 

Femicide

One of the most extreme forms of violence is femicide, which is the intentional murder of women for being women. This targeted form of gender-based violence is a real threat to the life of women. In fact, a 2019 report by The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) states that 87,000 women were killed in 2017. 

The reality of femicide is that it is a worldwide epidemic affecting thousands of women. For instance, one report that studies femicide in the UK between 2009 and 2018 reports that a woman is killed by a man every three days. In 2020 alone, 110 women were killed by men in the UK. In the US, 24-year-old Alexis Gabe was found dead and dismembered earlier this November after she went missing in January 2022. It is reported that she was killed by her ex-boyfriend. 

The Middle East also saw three femicides in one week earlier this year. Naira Ashraf, an Egyptian student, was repeatedly stabbed by a colleague near her university in June 2022. A couple of days later, Iman Irshaid, was shot to death while attending one of Jordan’s universities. And in the same week, a Jordanian woman was stabbed and killed by her husband in Sharjah, UAE. 

But things did not stop there because within only three months, two other Egyptian girls, Salma Bahgat and Amani Abdul-Karim, were also brutally murdered. 

Do you know what these 4 women have in common? 

They all said NO to potential suitors and as a result were killed. 

Source: Twitter

While the numbers on femicide and violence against women is alarming, the truth behind the true scale of it is still unclear. Therefore, appropriate measures have to be taken to put an end to perpetrators of violence against women. 

A Call For Action

Violence against women is a real and severe issue that has to be addressed with urgency. Not only is the act of violence itself a human rights violation, but victims are also left to live with the mental and emotional aftermath. The adverse mental, emotional, and physical consequences that women are left to live with can impact them their whole lives. 

And while we cannot deny that leading organizations and activists are trying to put a stop to violence against women, the amount of action done does not match the severity and urgency of the injustice women are facing around the globe. 

"Violence against women is a scourge that must stop. On this International Day, UNESCO is once again calling for unity and action – for women’s rights are the human rights of all." - Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General

An integral part of putting an end to it is taking preventive measures that prevent violence from happening in the first place. Whether this looks like passing new and stricter laws or raising awareness, leaders need to work towards implementing proactive measures to protect women. 

In addition to the work of organizations, governments, and law enforcements, societies also have a responsibility to put an end to the violence against women. 

If you see a woman experiencing sexual harassment, it is your responsibility to stand up and report it. 

If you hear of women being abused and battered, it is your responsibility to call the police. 

If you hear your friends make inappropriate jokes about women, it is your responsibility to call them out on it. 

As a man, it is your responsibility to demonstrate to your children how to treat women respectfully and rightfully. 

As a woman, it is your responsibility to treat your daughter that she deserves everything good has to offer. 

As a human being, it is your responsibility to speak up against any injustice.

Days like International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women serve as an important reminder that we still have a lot of work to do when it comes to building a world where ALL women feel safe. 

Because the reality of things is that no matter where you live, the world still has a long way to go when it comes to creating a safe and just place for women. 

That is why it is imperative that we all take part in the conversation and help create a place where women can live without fearing for their lives. 

 


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