Women is the gender more used and abused. What is the underlying cause?
Violence against Women at Epidemic Proportions – Scientific American
Three in ten women worldwide have been punched, shoved, dragged, threatened with weapons, raped, or subjected to other violence from a current or former partner. Close to one in ten have been sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner. Of women who are murdered, more than one in three were killed by an intimate partner.
These grim statistics come from the first global, systematic estimates of violence against women. Linked papers published today in The Lancet and Science assess, respectively, how often people are killed by their partners and how many women experience violence from them. And an associated report and guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, along with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council in Pretoria, estimates how often women suffer sexual violence from someone other than a partner, gauge the impact of partner and non-partner violence on women’s health and advise health-care providers on how to support the victims.
“These numbers should be a wake-up call. We want to highlight that this is a problem that occurs in all regions and it’s unacceptably high,” says Claudia García-Moreno, a physician at WHO who coordinates research on gender violence and worked on all the publications.
According to the WHO report, 42% of women who experienced violence were physically injured by their partners. But violence harms women in ways beyond injury. Violent partners may prevent women from visiting health clinics or from accessing medicine or contraception. Women who experienced violence from a partner are more likely to be infected with HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases, to have an abortion, to give birth to underweight and premature babies, and to attempt suicide. They are also more likely to use alcohol and are twice as likely to experience depression — factors which can be both cause of and be caused by a partner’s violence. In addition, the authors point out, raised stress levels are implicated in a range of health problems, including chronic pain, diabetes, heart disease and gastrointestinal disorders.
Such figures mean that violence should be considered alongside ‘mainstream’ health risks such as smoking and alcohol use, says Kristin Dunkle, a social epidemiologist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, who was not involved in the studies. “This is the moment where we say ‘no one is allowed to have their head in the sand, and no one is addressing women’s health if they aren’t addressing violence’.”
On the scientific agenda The data came from a concerted effort over many years to develop and disseminate methods to measure gender-related violence, says Rachel Jewkes, head of the South African Medical Research Council in Pretoria. “By saying ‘we’re going to measure it,’ we’ve put it on the scientific agenda.”
As recently as 15 or 20 years ago, she says, governments generally considered domestic violence as something that was private and inevitable — something that governments could do little to address, she says. Having global figures puts violence on the radar of “global bodies that are looking for one number to show that violence is an issue”.
To compile their estimates, each report combed through the peer-reviewed literature as well as the so-called ‘grey literature’, such as statistics and reports compiled by government agencies. To estimate the prevalence of violence against women across global regions and age ranges, for example, dozens of researchers searched more than 25,000 abstracts, says Karen Devries, a social epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who worked on the reports.
What has research reveal in reducing and even preventing violence against women?
Papers on Research in Preventing Violence Against Women and …
The science behind preventing violence against women and children has evolved greatly over the past several decades. Several speakers offered overviews of the research and described the growing awareness of the complexities of the causes, risk factors, and adverse effects of such violence. They also explored potential intervention points that were illuminated by this discussion.
The first paper is a reprint from the World Health Organization publication Preventing Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Against Women (WHO and LSHTM, 2010b). The full report provides an overview of the magnitude of the issue; this workshop summary includes Chapter 3, which is an in-depth analysis of preventive interventions in low- and middle-income countries and was the basis for Claudia García-Moreno’s presentation at the workshop.
The second paper is adapted from the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES), a multi-country study that explored men’s perspectives on gender norms and violence. The survey examined the evolving views of men on gender equality as well as whether these views affected men’s sense of well-being and their commitment to reducing violence.
The third paper, by Claire Crooks from the University of Western Ontario and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, provides an overview of the intergenerational transmission of violence. It also explores the ways in which violence against children can have long-term impacts as well as what considerations are valuable in designing interventions to prevent child maltreatment.
The final two papers, from Roger Fallot and Julian Ford, explore secondary and tertiary prevention of the long-term effects of violence and associated trauma by including the “trauma lens” in the provision of social services as well as through the empowerment of individuals who are exposed to violence. Trauma-informed care and psychosocial empowerment are two means by which survivors of violence can overcome potential adverse outcomes and prevent the recurrence of violence.
Intimate partner and sexual violence are not inevitable—their levels vary over time and between places because of a variety of social, cultural, economic, and other factors. This can result in substantial differences between and within countries in the prevalence of intimate partner and sexual violence (WHO and LSHTM, 2010a). Most importantly, this variation shows that such violence can be reduced through well-designed and effective programs and policies. There are important factors related to both perpetration and victimization—such as exposure to child maltreatment, witnessing parental violence, attitudes that are accepting of violence, and the harmful use of alcohol—that can be addressed (WHO and LSHTM, 2010c).
The following insights are most helpful in preventing and reducing violence against women.
Preventing and reducing violence against women: innovation in …
Intimate partner violence is a serious global problem that damages the health and prosperity of individuals, their families, community, and society. WHO endorses an `ecological model,’ which states that there are multi-level intersecting factors enabling perpetration and victimization of violence. Intervention science to prevent or reduce the problem is in its infancy, and the few existing intervention studies have been targeted at the individual level. In a recent study published in BMC Medicine, Abramsky et al. bring innovation to the field, targeting their intervention trial “SASA!” in Kampala Uganda at all ecological levels, but particularly at the community level. Recruiting and training both male and female community leaders and activists who enabled group and media discussions, the authors focused on the beneficial and abusive detrimental uses of power rather than commencing with the central issue of gender inequality. SASA! successfully reduced community attitudes to tolerance of violence and inequality, men’s sexual risk behaviors, and women’s experience of physical violence. The study also improved the communities’ response to victimized women. SASA! has promise for adaptation and replication in low, middle and high income countries.
Please see related article: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/12/122.
Gender-based violence, especially its most common form – intimate partner violence (IPV) – is prevalent globally. Evidence that such violence causes serious health damage to women, their children, families, and society is now overwhelming . It can be particularly harmful to the health and development of low and middle income countries (LMIC), for example, affecting maternal morbidity and mortality rates, and the levels of HIV infection among women and children. In an article recently published in BMC Medicine, Abramsky et al. demonstrated innovation in methods for pragmatic randomized trials for the prevention of gender-based violence . In doing so, they advanced the very small evidence base of effective interventions to prevent and reduce the level of IPV and sexual violence against women and the consequences of such violence.
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