No matter how many laws are made and campaigns are done to end gender-based violence against women and girls, it still continues as a reality of todays’ so-called modern world! The global population, mainly the men, who are still the majority perpetrators of these crime, should be held accountable to the fact that even today their grandmothers, mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and female friends and colleagues are being abused at home, in public spaces and in work places. The digital world has created one more forum for abuse and harassment of women and girls.
Since 1991, over 6000 organsations in about 187 countries have participated in the 16-day campaign to end violence against women and girls (VAWG) and have outreached about 300 million people. The campaign commences on November 25 - the international day to end violence against women - and ends on 10th December, which is the International day of Human rights. During these 16 days, each day is observed with different issues that help to protect the various human rights. This is emphasised to establish the fact that gender-based violence against women is actually a violation of human rights of women.
Women-friendly laws This campaign has been able to focus attention of the world on the fact that even in the present advanced stage there is a need for campaign to end gender-based violence against a particular group of people because of their sex. It has also been able to bring about amendment in laws and the creation of women-friendly laws all over the world. However, it is still a reality that such violence is still on the increase all over the world. WOREC Nepal has just released their yearly book Anbesi with data on violence against women (VAW) during BS 2078. It collected and analysed 1772 cases of violence against women from Nepali month of Shrawan 2077 BS to Asar 2078 BS. Among these cases, 63 per cent or 1116 women faced domestic violence; 15 per cent or 265 women faced social violence; 11 per cent or 187 women were raped; 2 per cent or 36 women faced attempt to rape; 4 per cent or 68 women faced sexual assault; 0.08 per cent or 15 women were murdered; 0.05 per cent or 9 women faced attempt to murder; 1 per cent or 20 women were trafficked; 12 women committed suicide and 4 women attempted suicide.
The WOREC report mentions that women faced the maximum violence from their family members. Around 51 per cent of women suffer violence from their husbands and 19 from other family members. The report also includes data related to violence faced by women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic. On the global front, according to WHO data, VAW, particularly violence by intimate partner and sexual violence is a major health problem and violation of women’s human rights. The estimates published by WHO indicate that globally about 1 in 3 (30 per cent) of women worldwide have been subjected to either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
The WHO states that violence of any sort can negatively affect women’s physical, sexual and reproductive health. This report states that the prevalence of lifetime intimate partner violence ranges from 20 per cent in the Western Pacific, 22 per cent in high-income countries and Europe, 25 per cent in the WHO Regions of the Americas, 33 per cent in the WHO Africa Region, 31 per cent in WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, and 33 per cent in WHO South-East Asia Region. According to UN Women report, based on a prevalence survey in some countries in Asia, nearly half of the women have experienced physical and sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner.
These data clearly show that women and girls all over the world are still subjected to violence of all forms mainly by those are closest to them. So why has this not stopped? Why is there still a tendency for VAWG to increase? There needs to be a fundamental change in mindset of the perpetrators who are predominantly men, and those who protect such crime. In spite of a lot of awareness and work being done all over the world to attract attention to this crime, there seems to be VAWG in every youth generation. So the time has now come for the human rights movement to sit and reflect on what is going wrong? What could be the instrumental factor that can now bring a revolutionary change in the behaviour and mindset of perpetrators against this heinous crime? Impacts
This year too, the 16-day campaign against gender-based violence is currently being observed. There are several specific campaigns for the need to end female infanticide, and particularly Nepal Government has adopted the campaign of ending such violence from home itself. All these forms of violence and harassment force women to suffer from isolation, the inability to work, the loss of wages, all of which hinder them from participating fully in their day to day activities. Violence of any form has both short and long term impacts on the physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive wellbeing of women. This in turn has very adverse impacts on the social and economic costs for women, their families and the society as a whole.
A review of the approach to end VAWG needs to be done. A strategy is required to make people internalise within themselves that it is wrong to violate human rights of women and girls. It is equally important to set up an effective mechanism which will enable women and girls to protect themselves from all forms of violence.
(Namrata Sharma is a journalist and women rights activist. firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter handle: @NamrataSharmaP)