Views & Reviews
Gender-Based Violence a Global Issue
India has been ranked 127th among 146 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index 2023. Many studies have shown that gender-based violence can be ended by involving all communities in preventing, identifying and addressing it. Gender-based violence is a global issue, with approximately 27 percent of women experiencing physical or sexual abuse at some point in their lifetime.
Amit Baijnath Garg, Senior Journalist-Writer
Gender-based violence is violence against a person just because of the difference in gender. Although both men and women experience gender-based violence, the majority of victims are women and girls. Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply linked to gender inequality and is one of the most prominent human rights violations in all societies. It is manifested throughout the life of women from mother’s womb to death. Gender-based violence has no social or economic background but affects women and girls from all social and economic backgrounds. Every girl and boy should have equal opportunity to survive and grow. Childhood experts are advocating equal rights for every child. Yet gender discrimination starting in childhood is crushing their childhood and limiting their potential, which is having an adverse impact on girls around the world. There is a high possibility of a girl being deprived of her rights, prevented from school, forced into marriage, and subjected to violence. Even if it is noticed, the girl is given less importance. This discrimination against children hinders the development of the nation because future progress depends on the energy and determination of today’s children. According to one estimate, it will take more than 200 years to achieve gender equality at the current rate of change. Gender equality is currently unacceptable only in America. Together we can create a more equal world from the ground up. According to a recently released report, women have traditionally been seen as a weaker section in society. They suffer exploitation, humiliation and discrimination both at home and in society. Discrimination against women is prevalent everywhere in the world. India ranks 127th among 146 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index 2023. A report says that one in three women in India is abused by her partner once in her lifetime. Gender-based violence is a global issue, with approximately 27 percent of women experiencing physical or sexual abuse at some point in their lifetime. Particularly in South Asia, the incidence of experiencing intimate partner violence is 35 percent higher than the global average. The patriarchal socio-economic system and traditional traditions, which define gender roles, are responsible for this. The impact of violence against women and girls is deep at the emotional level and causes bigger social, economic, physical and mental problems for them. The disappointing aspect is that as an individual she is unable to use her full potential. Girls and women who are victims of violence often lag behind in education, health and employment. Their participation in society is also affected. Violence against women also damages the economy. It causes a loss of 15 trillion US dollars (2 percent GDP) at the global level. Among the various causes of gender-based violence, the most important are social, political and cultural reasons. For example, discriminatory social, cultural and religious beliefs, norms and practices marginalise women and girls and do not give their rights. Gender stereotypes are often used to justify violence against women. Cultural norms indicate that men are aggressive, controlling, and dominant, while women are submissive and dependent on men as providers. These norms motivate to abuse her. The breakdown of family, social and community structures and the limited role and rights of women within the family often put women and girls at risk. There are many obstacles in the way to create gender equality. Lack of access to judiciary institutions makes men fearless to abuse her. There is also a lack of suitable and affordable legal advice and representation for her. Apart from this, victim-survivor and witness protection mechanisms are also missing. Inadequate judicial frameworks, including national, traditional, customary and religious beliefs, discriminate against women and girls. Fear of pressure or stigma, isolation, social exclusion, victimization, detention, ill-treatment and punishment etc. hinder the efforts of gender equality. There is a lack of knowledge about human rights. Most of the women do not know how and where to get justice. Gender-based violence severely impacts all aspects of women’s health, including physical, sexual and reproductive, mental and behavioural health. This hinders them from realising their full potential. Violence and its threat weaken women’s ability to participate actively and equally in the social and political sphere. Workplace harassment and domestic violence impact women’s potential and their economic empowerment. Sexual harassment also limits girls’ educational opportunities and achievements. This is why their development is often hindered. There is a need to increase awareness to prevent violence against women. Past experiences tell us that access to state facilities is limited in conflict areas; therefore, it is important that lifeline facilities for women victims of gender violence are also included in the programs being run in this context. Various organisations will have to work together to ensure that necessary health facilities and mental health services are available in such areas. It is important to act closely with women’s organisations working at the grassroots level to reach out to female victims in conflict-affected areas. Gender-based violence not only causes human harm but also destroys a society’s ability to combat poverty, inequality and achieve prosperity. Gender violence can be ended by involving all communities in preventing, identifying and addressing it. We must continue to support legal and policy reforms to prevent gender-based violence. Relative policies have to be developed towards establishing gender equality, because gender-based violence arises from gender inequality and plays a role in maintaining it. There is a need to run awareness campaigns about the existing laws against domestic violence and sexual violence. In recent years, many South Asian countries have changed laws related to sexual violence and harassment. However, it becomes difficult to implement them because there is a huge lack of awareness among the people regarding women’s rights. We will have to work closely with governments to build the capacity of officials to adopt, implement and spread awareness about these laws. Gender-based violence can be eliminated only through collective efforts of society, government and individuals. One of the most important ways is to train healthcare providers to recognise and assist in such violences. Media can play a key role in highlighting gender-based violence, advertising, informing policy-makers, and educating the public about legal rights. Regular curriculum, sex education, counselling programs, and school health services can carry forward the message that violence is a crime and must be prevented. If everyone comes together and makes a collective effort, gender-based violence can be controlled, and women and girls can be given their due rights. Only then will the concept of equality in society be established.
Amit Baijnath Garg