We’ve made incredible progress… But we cannot let up — not when… violence still kills three women a day. Not when one in five women will be a victim of rape in their lifetime. Not when one in three women is abused by a partner

– President Barack Obama

Stop Violence against Women

“Five youths have been arrested in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam for allegedly gang-raping a 10-year-old girl, police said. The incident took place on Sunday [September 15, 2013]. Police said the youths took her to an abandoned house and raped her. They were all neighbours and usually played together. It is not clear exactly how old youths are but reports suggest they were all under 16.

It comes amid a national debate about rape and the treatment of women.

On Friday a court in the Indian capital, Delhi, sentenced four men to death for [December 2012’s] gang rape and murder of a student. The case led to violent protests across India and new laws against rape.

A fifth accused, a teenager who was found guilty of taking part in the rape, was sentenced to three years in a reform facility, the maximum term possible because the crime was committed when he was 17.

His sentencing has sparked a debate in India with many arguing that his punishment is too lenient for the crime he has committed.” (www.bbc.co.uk)

The stories above represent only a fraction of the same such violent horrors that are happening to women every day worldwide. Violence against women has reached numbers of occurrence and details of brutality that is practically incomprehensible. It crosses all borders, affects members of the entire spectrum of socioeconomic classes, and saddest of all, victimizes women of all ages – from the very old to even baby girls. Globally, we must rise up and work together to end violence against women.

What is violence against women?

The United Nations 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. But it is immensely more complex and pervasive than the parameters of this basic definition

Violence and abuse affect women from all kinds of backgrounds every day. Sometimes, women are attacked by strangers, but most often they are hurt by people who are close to them. Violence and abuse can cause terrible physical and emotional pain. Violence strikes women from all kinds of backgrounds and of all ages. It can happen at work, on the street, or at home. The different types of violence against women, include, but are not limited to: Dating violence, domestic and intimate partner violence, emotional abuse, human trafficking, same-sex relationship violence, sexual assault and abuse, stalking, violence against immigrant and refugee women, violence against women at work, violence against women with disabilities. (www.womenshealth.gov)

Although violence against women is a universal phenomenon, rates of women experiencing physical violence at least once in their lifetime vary from several percent to over 59% depending on where they live.

Current statistical measurements of violence against women provide a limited source of information, and statistical definitions and classifications require more work and harmonization at the international level.

Nonetheless, due to tireless efforts of people worldwide committed to helping women escape violent situations, the following additional statistics on violence against women have been collected:

  • Women are subjected to different forms of violence – physical, sexual, psychological and economic – both within and outside their homes.
  • Female genital mutilation – the most harmful mass perpetuation of violence against women –

shows a slight decline.

  • In many regions of the world longstanding customs put considerable pressure on women to

accept abuse. (www.stats.un.org)

Violence against Women in Africa
Women living in Ethiopia’s nomadic pastoralist communities of Afar suffer from a broad range of human rights abuses, including female genital mutilation, lack of education and domestic violence. PCI’s project Hope for Women (Tesfa le Setoche), aims to protect and promote women’s rights. Initially created as a two-year project, the U.S. Department of State recognized the value of PCI’s program interventions and extended the project so PCI could replicate its success in three additional areas of Afar. In 2009, project activities more than doubled the enrollment of young girls in school.
Violence against women statistics in Africa show that one in four South African women experience violence from their partners. In addition, while only a small percentage of rapes are reported to police in South Africa, the country still has one of the highest rates of reported rapes in the world. In response, PCI and local partners are mobilizing many segments of society in an effort to change the social norms and deep-set beliefs that keep violence against women alive.

Through the 16 Days of Activism mass media and outreach campaign in 2009 and again in 2010, PCI increased public awareness of these harmful beliefs and issues, as well as its link to the spread of HIV. The daring campaign, one of the first of its kind in South Africa, has reached millions of people through messages disseminated via massive billboards depicting graphic images of physical abuse, mobile billboards, media coverage and advocacy events. During the Prevention in Action campaigns nearly a million people have also made a personal commitment to stand up against violence.

What is domestic violence against women?

The simplest definition of domestic violence, as written in the dictionary is: the inflicting of physical injury by one family or household member on another, and also a repeated or habitual pattern of such behavior. Of course the real life version of violence against women in domestic settings is even more daunting and complex.

“An estimated 22 percent of Americans say they have been a victim of domestic violence, and 13 percent report being the victim of sexual assault, a women’s awareness group reported in September, 2013.

The “No More” survey, funded by the Avon Foundation for Women, found that despite the apparent scope of the issues, more than half of American’s say they have never discussed sexual assault or domestic violence with their friends.

It’s a combination of data, the group states in its release, which ‘uncovers staggering silence and inaction around domestic violence and sexual assault.’

‘That silence leaves victims trapped by the shame, stigma and fear that these crimes carry,’ Avon Foundation for Women President Carol Kurzig said in a statement. ‘If we can encourage more people to start talking, we can end that cycle and bring these issues to light in a new way.’” (www.cbsnews.com)

Legislation to stop violence against women

The Violence against Women Act (VAWA) is a United States federal law signed by President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994. The Act provides significant funding toward investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposes automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allows civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave un-prosecuted. The Act also establishes the Office on Violence against Women within the Department of Justice.

In March, 2013, President Obama signed the reauthorization of the Violence against Women Act, expanding protections for victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

“This is a country where everybody should be able to pursue their own measure of happiness and live their lives free from fear, no matter who you are, no matter who you love. That’s got to be our priority. That’s what today is about,” he said at a bill signing ceremony at the Interior Department.

“This is your day. This is the day of the advocates, the day of the survivors. This is your victory,”(www.abcnews.go.com)