Violence Against Women

Violence Against Women

Violence against women is a technical term used to collectively refer to violent acts that are primarily or exclusively committed againstwomen. Similar to a hate crime, this type of violence targets a specific group with the victim's gender as a primary motive.

The United Nations General Assembly 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." The 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women noted that this violence could be perpetrated by assailants of either gender, family members and even the "State" itself.

Worldwide governments and organizations actively work to combat violence against women through a variety of programs. A UN resolutiondesignated November 25 as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

History of violence against women

Some historians believe that the history of violence against women is tied to the history of women being viewed as property and a gender role assigned to be subservient to men and also other women.

The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) states that "violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.”

In the 1870s courts in the United States stopped recognizing the common-law principle that a husband had the right to "physically chastise an errant wife". In the UK the traditional right of a husband to inflict moderate corporal punishmenton his wife in order to keep her "within the bounds of duty" was removed in 1891.

The Quran verse An-Nisa, 34 has been interpreted as supporting wife-beating (See Islam and domestic violence).

Impact on society

The World Health Organization reports that violence against women puts an undue burden on health care services with women who have suffered violence being more likely to need health services and at higher cost, compared to women who have not suffered violence. Several studies have shown a link between poor treatment of women and international violence. These studies show that one of the best predictors of inter- and intranational violence is the maltreatment of women in the society.

Types of violence

Domestic violence

Women are more likely to be victimized by someone that they are intimate with, commonly called "Intimate Partner Violence" or (IPV). The impact of domestic violence in the sphere of total violence against women can be understood through the example that 40-70% of murders of women are committed by their husband or boyfriend. Studies have shown that violence is not always perpetrated as a form of physical violence but can also be psychological andverbal. In unmarried relationships this is commonly called dating violence, whereas in the context of marriage it is called domestic violence. Instances of IPV tend not to be reported to police and thus many experts believe that the true magnitude of the problem is hard to estimate. Women are much more likely than men to be murdered by an intimate partner. In the United States, in 2005, 1181 women, in comparison with 329 men, were killed by their intimate partners. In England and Wales about 100 women are killed by partners or former partners each year while 21 men were killed in 2010. In 2008, in France, 156 women in comparison with 27 men were killed by their intimate partner.

Though this form of violence is often portrayed as an issue within the context of heterosexual relationships, it also occurs in lesbian relationships, daughter-mother relationships, roommate relationships and other domestic relationships involving two women. Violence against women in lesbian relationships is about as common as violence against women in heterosexual relationships.

Gender Based Violence By Male College Athletes

Violence against women is a topic of concern in the United States' collegiate athletic community. From the 2010 UVA lacrosse murder, in which a male athlete was charged guilty with second degree murder of his girlfriend, to the 2004 University of Colorado Football Scandal when players were charged with 9 alleged sexual assaults, studies suggest that athletes are at higher risk for committing sexual assault against women than the average student. It is reported that 1 in 3 college assaults are committed by athletes. Surveys suggest that male student athletes who represent 3.3 % of the college population, commit 19% of reported sexual assaults and 35% of domestic violence. The theories that surround these statistics range from misrepresentation of the student-athlete to an unhealthy mentality towards women within the team itself.

Controversy Over Contributing Factors

Sociologist Timothy Curry, after conducting an observational analysis of two big time sports’ locker room conversations, deduced that the high risk of male student athletes for gender abuse is a result of the team’s subculture. He states, “Their locker room talk generally treated women as objects, encouraged sexist attitudes toward women and, in its extreme, promoted rape culture." He proposes that this objectification is a way for the male to reaffirm his heterosexual status and hyper-masculinity. Claims have been made that the atmosphere changes when an outsider (especially women) intrude in the locker room. In the wake of the reporter Lisa Olson being harassed by a Patriots player in the locker room in 1990, she reflected, "We are taught to think we must have done something wrong and it took me a while to realize I hadn't done anything wrong." Other female sports reporters (college and professional) have claimed that they often brush off the players' comments which leads to further objectification. Other sociologists challenge this claim. Steve Chandler notes that because of their celebrity status on campus, “athletes are more likely to be scrutinized or fasely accused than non-athletes.” Another Contender, Stephanie Mak, notes that, “if one considers the 1998 estimates that about three million women were battered and almost one million raped, the proportion of incidences that involve athletes in comparison to the regular population is relatively small."

Response to Violence by Male College Athletes

In response to the proposed link between college athletes and gender based violence,and media coverage holding Universities as responsible for these scandals more universities are requiring athletes to attend workshops that promote awareness. For example, St. John's University holds sexual assault awareness classes in the fall for its incoming student athletes. Other groups, such as The National Coalition Against Violent Athletes, have formed to provide support for the victims as their mission statement reads, "The NCAVA works to eliminate off the field violence by athletes through the implementation of prevention methods that recognize and promote the positive leadership potential of athletes within their communities. In order to eliminate violence, the NCAVA is dedicated to empowering individuals affected by athlete violence through comprehensive services including advocacy, education and counseling."

  1. ^ United Nations General Assembly Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993)
  2. ^ UN Resolution 54/134-International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
  3. ^ Penelope Harvey & Peter Gow Sex and violence : issues in representation and experience (1994) pg 36 RoutledgeISBN 0-415-05734-5
  4. ^ Calvert R (1974). "Criminal and civil liability in husband-wife assaults". In Steinmetz S, Straus M. Violence in the family. New York: Harper & Row. pp. 88–91.
  5. ^ R. v. Jackson 1891. 1 Q.B. 671
  6. ^ Encyclop√¶dia Britannica Eleventh Edition, 1911. Article Corporal punishment
  7. ^ Yotam Feldner, Middle East Quarterly, December 2000, pp. 41-50
  8. ^ WHO Factsheet Violence against women
  9. ^ "Intimate Partner Violence". World Health Organization. 2002. Retrieved 2007-09-04.
  10. ^ A Pourreza; A Batebi; A Moussavi (2004). "A Survey about Knowledge and Attitudes of People towards Violence against Women in Community Family Settings". Iranian Public Health Journal 33 (2): 33–37. Retrieved 2007-09-04.
  11. ^ Violence & Victimization Research Division's Compendium Of Research On Violence Against Women 1993-20051998-WT-VX-0014 pg 35, 1999-WT-VX-0014 pg 59
  12. ^ "Intimate Partner Violence: Overview". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2006. Retrieved 2007-09-04.
  13. ^ "All domestic abuse deaths to have multi-agency review". BBC. 13 April 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  14. ^ Girshick, Lori B., "No Sugar, No Spice: Reflections on Research on Woman-to-Woman Sexual Violence." Violence Against Women Vol. 8 No. 12, December 2002, pgs. 1500-1520.
  15. ^ Fact Sheet: Lesbian Partner Violence
  16. ^ Vaughan, Kevin. "Colorado woman seeks justice in alleged sexual assault Read more: Colorado woman seeks justice in alleged sexual assault". denver Post. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  17. ^ Brady, Jeff. "Scandal Returns to University of Colorado Football". NPR weekend edition. NPR. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  18. ^ Chandler, Steve B; JOHNSON, DEWAYNE J. CARROLL, PAMELA S. (12/01/1999). "Abusive Behaviors of College Athletes". College Student Journal 33 (4).
  19. ^ Mak, Stephanie. "Are Athletes More Abusive Than the Rest of the Student Population?". Hopkins Undergraduate Research Journal Online. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  20. ^ "Statistics". The National Coalition Against Violent Athletes. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  21. ^ Mak, Stephanie. "Are Athletes More Abusive Than the Rest of the Student Population?". Hopkins Undergraduate Research Journal Online. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  22. ^ a b Curry, Timothy Jon (1991). "Fraternal Bonding In The Locker Room: A Profeminist Analysis Of Talk About Competition And Women". Sociology of Sport Journal 8 (2): 119-135. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  23. ^ a b Disch, Lisa; Kane, Mary Jo (Winter 1996). "When a Looker Is Really a Bitch: Lisa Olson, Sport, and the Heterosexual Matrix". Signs 21 (2): 278-308. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  24. ^ Chandler, Steve B; JOHNSON, DEWAYNE J. CARROLL, PAMELA S. (12/01/1999). "Abusive Behaviors of College Athletes". College Student Journal 33 (4).
  25. ^ Mak, Stephanie. "Are Athletes More Abusive Than the Rest of the Student Population?". Hopkins Undergraduate Research Journal Online. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  26. ^ Newsom, John. "Share on emailShare on redditMore Sharing Services Few Colleges Tackle Issue of Athlete Sex Assaults". Los Angeles Times Online. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  27. ^ "Mission". National Coalition Against Violent Athletes. Retrieved 12 March 2012.

Domestic Violence in India

Baby Falak, a two-year old child-victim of domestic violence with a fractured skull and human bite marks on her body, died on 15 March 2012 after a cardiac arrest in AIIMS Trauma Centre in New Delhi, India.

Diagnosis planning

The American Psychiatric Association planning and research committees for the forthcoming DSM-5 (2013) have canvassed a series of new Relational disorders which include Marital Conflict Disorder Without Violence or Marital Abuse Disorder (Marital Conflict Disorder With Violence). Couples with marital disorders sometimes come to clinical attention because the couple recognize long-standing dissatisfaction with their marriage and come to the clinicianon their own initiative or are referred by an astute health care professional. Secondly, there is serious violence in the marriage which is -"usually the husband battering the wife". In these cases the emergency room or a legal authority often is the first to notify the clinician. Most importantly, marital violence "is a major risk factor for serious injury and even death and women in violent marriages are at much greater risk of being seriously injured or killed (National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women 2000)." The authors of this study add that "There is current considerable controversy over whether male-to-female marital violence is best regarded as a reflection of male psychopathology and control or whether there is an empirical base and clinical utility for conceptualizing these patterns as relational."

Recommendations for clinicians making a diagnosis of Marital Relational Disorder should include the assessment of actual or "potential" male violence as regularly as they assess the potential for suicide in depressed patients. Further, "clinicians should not relax their vigilance after a battered wife leaves her husband, because some data suggest that the period immediately following a marital separation is the period of greatest risk for the women. Many men will stalk andbatter their wives in an effort to get them to return or punish them for leaving. Initial assessments of the potential for violence in a marriage can be supplemented by standardized interviews and questionnaires, which have been reliable and valid aids in exploring marital violence more systematically."

The authors conclude with what they call "very recent information" on the course of violent marriages which suggests that "over time a husband's battering may abate somewhat, but perhaps because he has successfully intimidated his wife. The risk of violence remains strong in a marriage in which it has been a feature in the past. Thus, treatment is essential here; the clinician cannot just wait and watch." The most urgent clinical priority is the protection of the wife because she is the one most frequently at risk, and clinicians must be aware that supporting assertiveness by a battered wife may lead to more beatings or even death.

Mob violence

In 2010 Amnesty International reported that mob attacks against single women were taking place in Hassi Messaoud,Algeria. According to Amnesty International, "some women have been sexually abused" and were targeted "not just because they are women, but because they are living alone and are economically independent."

State violence

Labor camps

Many women underwent extrajudicial punishment in labor camps of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Their suffering was described in memories of former Gulag women prisoners Yevgenia Ginzburg, Eufrosinia Kersnovskaya and others.

War and militarism

Militarism produces special environments that allow for increased violence against women. For example, during World War II, the Japanese military established brothels for soldiers, exploiting women for the purpose of creating access and entitlement for men (see Comfort women). Another example of violence against women incited by militarism during war took place in the Kovno Ghetto. Jewish male prisoners had access to (and used) Jewish women forced into camp brothels by the Nazis, who also used them. The 1998 United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda recognized rape as a war crime.

Violence in empowerment systems

When police officers misuse their power as agents of the state to physically and sexually harass and assault victims, the survivors, including women, feel much less able to report the violence. It is standard procedure for police to force entry into the victim's home even after the victim's numerous requests for them to go away. Government agencies often disregard the victim's right to freedom of association with their perpetrator. Shelter workers are often reduced themselves to contributing to violence against women by exploiting their vulnerability in exchange for a paying job.


Many activists believe that working towards the elimination of domestic violence means working to eliminate a societal hierarchy enforced through sexism. INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence cited racism within the anti-violence movement and suggest that violence against women will not end until the anti-violence movement re-directs its goal from "ending violence against women" to "ending violence against women of color." The same conclusion can be drawn for other systems of oppression.

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