International framework

The UN Declaration (RES/48/104) on the Elimination of Violence against Women puts the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)1 into concrete terms and defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to the women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”.2

SDG number 5 in the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development names achieving Gender Equality as a goal to be reached by 2030. The elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls in public and private sphere is part of this Sustainable Development Goal.3

Worldwide, every third woman (aged 15 and older) has experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a partner or sexual violence by a non-partner.4

Forms of violence against women and girls

Depending on the cultural context and phase of the life cycle, women and girls are affected by different forms of violence to varying degrees.

Forms of violence against women and girls:

  • Intimate partner violence, including physical and sexual violence, emotional abuse and controlling behaviours, abuse through economic dependency.5
  • Sexual violence perpetrated by intimate partner or non-partner in domestic and/or public spheres, including rape and sexual harassment.6
  • Human trafficking and forced sexual exploitation, including forced prostitution and economic exploitation of girls and women.7
  • Female genital mutilation and harmful traditional practices, including child marriage, femicide, honour and dowry-related killing.8
1/3 of 194 countries have not outlawed domestic violence. 9
Only 52 of 194 countries have criminalized rape within marriage.10
4.5 million people are victims of forced sexual exploitation, 98% of them are women and girls.11 21% of the female victims are younger than 17 years.12

Causes

Causes of violence against women and girls (based on the ecological model)13

Societal factors: E.g. lack of human rights legislation, lack of respect for women’s human and citizen rights, gender norms that put women in an unequal position and justify their subordination to men, tolerance of forms of intrapersonal violence and harmful practices against women and girls, lack of awareness raising and prevention measures, lack of respect for human and women´s rights, lack of criminal prosecution of related crimes, conflict settings and forced migration.

Community factors: E.g. acceptance of discriminatory gender norms and roles, i.e. collective male domination of public sphere, tolerance of women’s inferior social status, lack of community response to violence against women, lack of access to information and to justice for human rights violations, traditional community based laws.

Relationship/family factors: E.g. patriarchal family structures, male dominance stereotypes in interpersonal relationships, reproduction of discriminatory gender roles, acceptance of violence as education means, ignorance and lack of practice and respect for non-violent conflict resolution and communication forms, misunderstanding of family as sphere of private law.

Individual factors: Affecting women’s risk of being abused: E.g. maltreatment or witnessing intra-parental violence as a child, socioeconomic dependency, emotional dependency and low self-esteem, lack of help structures, low level of education, harmful use of drugs/alcohol, lack of awareness about women’s human rights.
Affecting men’s risk of abusing: E.g. identification with discriminatory dominant male gender roles, low level of education, high level of social and/or economic frustration, being sexually abused or witnessing intra-parental violence as a child, harmful use of alcohol/drugs, use of violence as communication means, lack of awareness rising and help structures.

Societal factors
Community factors
Relationship/family factors
Individual factors

Consequences

Physical, psychological and social impact14

  • Physical injuries and pains: Disability and chronic pain disorders, death, limited physical capacities, malnutrition, invalidity.
  • Unwanted pregnancy, unsafe and/or forced abortion, pregnancy and birth complications, miscarriages.
  • Sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
  • Psychological impact: E.g. anxiety and depression, posttraumatic stress disorders, psychosomatic and chronic illness, lack of self-confidence, aggression.
  • Social impact: E.g. stigmatisation, marginalisation, social exclusion, isolation.

Apart from lifelong health problems, violence against women and girls increases gender-based inequalities, poverty, lack of education and harms economies. E.g., due to 70 million days of missed work in 2014, violence against women and girls resulted in a loss of 3.7% of the Peruvian GDP (equal to 6.7 Billion US$).15 Hence, violence against women and girls remains a significant obstacle to development.16

Women who have experienced partner violence are

  • 1.5 times more likely to be infected with HIV, syphilis infection, chlamydia or gonorrhoea
  • and more than twice as likely to experience depression.17

42% of women who experience partner violence report injuries as a consequence of this violence.

38% of all murders of women globally were reported as being committed by their intimate partners.18

  1. UN General Assembly (1979): “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women”. http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/text/econvention.htm#intro.
  2. UN General Assembly A/RES/48/104 (1993): “Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women”. http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/48/a48r104.htm.
  3. UN (2015): Transformation unserer Welt: die Agenda 2030 für nachhaltige Entwicklung. http://www.un.org/depts/german/gv-70/a70-l1.pdf; p. 15
  4. WHO (2016): “Violence against Women. Global Picture – Health Response”. http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/violence/VAW_infographic.pdf?ua=1; .
  5. WHO (2012): “Understanding and addressing violence against women. Intimate partner violence”. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/77432/1/WHO_RHR_12.36_eng.pdf?ua=1 p.1.
  6. WHO (2012): “Understanding and addressing violence against women. Sexual violence”. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/77434/1/WHO_RHR_12.37_eng.pdf?ua=1 p.1 and WHO (2014): “Violence against Women. Intimate partner and sexual violence against women. Fact Sheet No. 239”. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/.
  7. WHO (2012): “Understanding and addressing violence against women. Overview”. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/77433/1/WHO_RHR_12.35_eng.pdf p. 2 and ILO (2012): “ILO Global Estimate of Forced Labour”. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_norm/---declaration/documents/publication/wcms_182004.pdf.
  8. UN Women (2014): “Infographic: Violence against Women”. http://beijing20.unwomen.org/en/infographic/evaw and WHO (2012): “Understanding and addressing violence against women. Overview”. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/77433/1/WHO_RHR_12.35_eng.pdf p.2 and WHO (2012): “Understanding and addressing violence against Women. Femicide”. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/77421/1/WHO_RHR_12.38_eng.pdf?ua=1.
  9. UN Women (2011): “Progress of the World’s Women. 2011-2012. In Pursuit of Justice”. http://menengage.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Progress_of_the_Worlds_Women_2011.pdf Annex 4.
  10. UN Women (2011): “Progress of the World’s Women. 2011-2012. In Pursuit of Justice”. http://menengage.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Progress_of_the_Worlds_Women_2011.pdf Annex 4.
  11. UN Women (2015): “Violence against Women”. http://www.unwomen.org/ja/digital-library/multimedia/2015/11/infographic-violence-against-women
  12. ILO (2012): “ILO Global Estimate of Forced Labour”. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_norm/---declaration/documents/publication/wcms_182004.pdf p. 13ff.
  13. Heise, L. (1998): “Violence Against Women. An Integrated Framework”. In: Violence Against Women, Vol. 4, No. 3 (1998). pp. 262–290 and Krug, E. et al., eds. (2002): “World report on violence and health”. Geneva: WHO.
  14. WHO (2013): “Global and regional estimates of violence against women. Prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence”. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/85239/1/9789241564625_eng.pdf p. 18ff.
  15. GIZ (2013): “Fighting Violence Against Women in Latin America”. https://www.giz.de/en/downloads/giz-2013-en-cost-in-billions.pdf p. 1.
  16. GIZ: “Fachexpertise: Gender. Gleichberechtigung und Frauenrechte fördern. Hintergrund: Entwicklung ins Gleichgewicht bringen”. https://www.giz.de/fachexpertise/html/14917.html.
  17. WHO (2016): “Violence against Women. Global Picture – Health Response”. http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/violence/VAW_infographic.pdf?ua=1
  18. WHO (2016): “Violence against Women. Global Picture – Health Response”. http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/violence/VAW_infographic.pdf?ua=1

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