Prevention is the 2015 theme of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November
For many years, domestic violence was regarded as a private matter between a man and a woman. Women were usually blamed for driving their husbands to violence, and women who were victims of rape or sexual assault were blamed for dressing inappropriately, being in the wrong place or in other ways inciting a man to lust through their behavior.
Most fortunately, times and mindsets have changed with decades of work having led to significant advances in awareness, laws and policies in most countries. Still, women and girls across the world continue to suffer from physical, sexual and psychological abuse, in addition to gang rape, abduction, forced child marriage, dowry-related crimes, and infanticide among others.
Consequences and costs
Violence against women and girls still has devastating and dehumanizing consequences for millions of women across the world. Beyond the suffering and impacts on quality of life and well-being, costs due to violence against women include consequences to survivors and their families in terms of physical and mental health, and employment and finances. Moreover, children witnessing violence are more likely to have behavioral problems, perform poorly in school and be at risk of perpetrating or experiencing violence in the future.
Lastly, violence not only damages girls’ and women’s lives, but adversely affects a country’s human, social and economic development: not only violence against women reduces productivity and drains public budgets, but it also limits the educational opportunities and achievements of girls.
Many people assume that violence against women and girls is inevitable. This seeming acceptance of the status quo not only damages women’s and girls’ lives, but hampers the work developed by practitioners and policy makers who seek to make a difference in this area.
Preventing violence against women
The Dianova network’s member organizations are united in believing that violence against women and girls is neither acceptable nor inevitable. We believe that achieving a safe and equal world for all means bringing violence against women and girls to an end.
However, implementing efficient prevention strategies implies that one must identify and address the underlying causes of violence. No single cause can adequately accounts for violence against women; it cannot be attributed solely to socioeconomic conditions, psychological factors or personal histories such as alcohol abuse. We must consider the impact of systemic gender inequality and gender subordination in order to address the problem efficiently.
Some ways to tackle violence against women and girls :
- Teach your children about fair and respectful treatment of girls and women. It is essential to adopt inclusive and nonsexist teaching methods (at school and at home), focusing on the rights and empowerment of all human beings and grounded on positive and participatory methods capable of limiting the influence of gender stereotypes – promote a non-sexist language.
- Promote gender equality in schools, widen access to education for girls and tackle the sexualization of women and girls and stereotypes conveyed by the media and popular culture (advertising)
- Provide women with access to legal representation and opportunities to pursue justice against perpetrators of violence through the legal system.
- Bring forced early marriage and premature pregnancy to an end. Pregnancy is the leading cause of death or girls between 15 to 19 years of age. Child marriage is a reality faced by 15 million girls each year. It is a violation of human rights which destroys girl’s childhoods and women’s lives, shattering their chance of completing an education and putting them at greater risk of violence and isolation.
- Revise marriage laws biased against women. In some countries laws deny women custody over their children, inheritance and rights in cases of death or divorce.
- Tackle all forms of human trafficking and the exploitation of women and girls in prostitution and pornography.
- Combat the forms of exploitation and violence against women and girls that have emerged as a result of the development of new technologies, in particular those involving the Internet and social networks, such as cyber bullying.