Violence against women: a worldwide cultural concern
As November 25th was the International Women’s Day for the elimination of violence against women, it is important to bring to light some disquieting figures regarding what women suffer in their lifetime:
- 1 in 3 women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, most frequently by an intimate partner
- Worldwide, almost 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday; while 200 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation
- 1 in 2 women murdered worldwide were killed by their partners or family in 2012; while only 1 out of 20 men were murdered under similar circumstances
Violence against women is defined in the 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women issued by the UN General Assembly as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”
Prevalence of violence towards women vs. its social acceptability
Many countries (mainly in Central America, Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia) have either a nonexistent or limited legal framework that offers women legal protection from domestic violence, rape and sexual harassment. More surprisingly, the percentage of women who agree that a partner is justified beating his wife under certain circumstances can reach 70% in some countries (Jordan, Timor-Leste, Democratic Republic of Congo…) and even 20% in Germany. We could wonder what the percentage for men is… It stresses the importance to tackle the social acceptability of violence against women and one of the most efficient ways is education, obviously for men but also for women.
We must ask ourselves the same question that was posed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres: if only “half of our population represented by women and girls can live free from fear, violence and everyday insecurity, can we truly say we live in a fair and equal world?"
*Attitudes toward violence: The percentage of women who agree that a husband/partner is justified in beating his wife/partner under certain circumstances
*Prevalence of violence in the lifetime: The percentage of women who have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner at some time in their life