Violence Against Women and Girls
Violence against women is a national and international epidemic; such violence is illegal
in many states in the US and many countries abroad, yet in some ways it is sanctioned
and tolerated by societies and governments. This lecture will address the various types of
violence used to control women, how women and girls experience violence, what is
considered violence, and how we can stop violence against women and girls.
An Overview of Domestic Violence
You may have heard violence against women talked about as domestic violence.
Technically domestic violence is violence that occurs in the home or among people in
intimate relationships, such as immediate and extended families or “romantic”
partnerships. In contrast, violence against women or girls is not necessarily perpetrated
by someone known to the victim. Because states and countries define violence against
women differently (and therefore offer women different levels of protection from such
violence under the law) it’s difficult to define gender-based violence. The United
Nations General Assembly wrote the
Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against
(1993), which 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." This encompasses,
sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family and in the general community,
including battering, sexual abuse of children, dowry-related violence, rape, female genital
mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and
violence related to exploitation, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in
educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women, forced prostitution, and
violence perpetrated or condoned by the state."
In other words, violence is not just physical – it also encompasses sexual, emotional,
mental, and even psychological and spiritual elements of abuse. Your book explains the
cycle of abuse and how these various types of abuse are used by perpetrators to keep
women passive, docile, and subservient. Research has shown that a perpetrator’s need to
control and dominate is at the root of violence and abuse. The
power and control wheel
visually depicts how various forms of abuse serve to “keep women in their place”.
Violence against women is a health problem, a human rights violation, and a cause of
mental, physical, and emotional trauma in women and girls. The World Health
Organization collects and reviews estimates of violence against women around the world.
Their research indicates that: