The realisation of a society that is characterised by equality is crucial for enhancing the protection of human rights. However, various injustices that are subjected to women undermine the prevalence of gender equality (Donnelly 2013). In response, several bodies, including the ones under the United Nations (UN), have put in place measures that seek to rectify the issue. However, the interventions require reinforcement to undermine the GBV menace. Besides, understanding the factors that contribute to the persistence of GBV is also essential (Palermo, Bleck & Peterman 2014). In this concern, this paper addresses the problem of gender-based violence by identifying its victims, the measures implemented to rectify the situation, what has not been implemented to correct the problem, and the factors that contribute to the persistence of the issue in the contemporary world.
The gender violence issue is prevalent considerably in the present-day society as denoted by the statistics in different countries (Jones 2014). The World Health Organisation (WHO) indicates that the figures regarding GBV have reached an alarming point (Morrison, Ellsberg & Bott 2007). Thus, intervention is crucial. The issue mainly affects women and girls where one in every three members of the mentioned cohort experiences a form of violence that undermines his or her wellbeing at least once in the individual’s lifetime.
The WHO reports that the GBV issue affects the entire continents in the world today. Notably, figures for 2010 show that Southern Asia region reported the highest cases of gender-based violence at 37.7% followed by Eastern Mediterranean region that recorded a prevalence of 37% (Beydoun & Beydoun 2014). The prevalence of the situation in Africa stood at 36.6% while the American region witnessed considerable cases reaching 29.8% in 2010 (Teofelus 2013). During the same period, the European and Western Pacific regions reported a prevalence of 25.4% and 24.6%, correspondingly. The statistical figures denote that the situation is noticeably prevalent in the Southern Asia region compared to the Western Pacific region among other areas.
In Africa, countries such as South Africa, Ethiopia, and Egypt report substantial cases of GBV against women in the form of either physical or sexual assault. Currently, the prevalence of the issue in Egypt is at 34% (Teofelus 2013). In the Anatolian Plateau, Turkey shows significant cases of sexual and physical violence against women at an alarming 42%. New Zealand also has a substantial prevalence of GBV at 35% (United Nations Population Fund (UNPF): Gender-based Violence 2016). In America, the United States, Canada, and Barbados record a prevalence of the issue at 33%, 29%, and 30% respectively. In Europe, 21% of women and girls in Switzerland account cases of physical or sexual harassment (Western 2013). In most countries, the gender violence issue starts affecting women and girls as early as the age of 15 years besides affecting the elderly as denoted by the concerns raised by 69-year-old victims (Beydoun & Beydoun 2014).
Victims of Gender-based Violence
The gender-based violence issue affects several cohorts in the modern society, including women and girls, children, men, and LGBT (Palermo, Bleck & Peterman 2014). Therefore, identifying the major victims of the gender issue besides its implications is crucial.
The Main Victims of Gender-based Violence
Women and girls constitute the main victims of GBV in the society today. Globally, statistical findings reveal that between 15% and 75% of women and girls become targets of physical and sexual violence in their lifetime. In most cases, the issue occurs between intimate partners where the female members emerge the victims in most cases. The male partners are usually the perpetrators of violence on women and girls. As such, 70% of the female victims of psychological, physical, and sexual violence identify their husbands as the culprits (Beydoun & Beydoun 2014). Therefore, women and girls experience the adverse effects of GBV in different ways compared to other cohorts.
How Gender-based Violence Affects Women and Girls
Gender-based violence affects women and girls in several ways. The issue affects women and girls by upsetting their dignity, autonomy, health, and security negatively. The injustice undermines the decorum of women by portraying them as inferior to the self-worth of men (Donnelly 2013). Further, the situation weakens the autonomy of women by influencing their decisions coercively. Additionally, the subjection of women to sexual and physical harassment contributes to the weakening of their health in several ways, including involuntary and unplanned pregnancies, risky abortions, sexually transmitted disease and infections, and traumatic fistula (Izumi 2007). The different ways in which the problem weakens the wellbeing of women is a major concern that prompts the development and implementation of measures that seek to rectify the problem.
Measures Implemented to Rectify the Situation
Different measures have been put in place to combat the gender violence issue in the contemporary society. The WHO has been integral in encouraging the establishment of initiatives that fight the violation of human rights from the gender point of view. The notable measures include assessing the magnitude of the problem, establishing institutions where victims report GBV cases, and the establishment of laws regarding gender violence (Heise, Ellsberg & Gottmoeller 2002). Other interventions include increasing research undertakings on the issue, offering technical guidance to stakeholders, disseminating information, reinforcing the health sectors in different countries, and collaborating with international agencies that address the issue.
The creation of formal institutions and frameworks such as health services and the police have contributed to the reporting of gender-based violence cases in different countries. The initiatives facilitate the reduction of unreported cases of GBV (Palermo, Bleck & Peterman 2014). As such, the institutions assist in collecting data regarding the magnitude of the problem today.
At least 119 countries have established laws that seek to curb the rising cases of gender-based violence (Beydoun & Beydoun 2014). Mostly, the laws stipulate the aspects of sexual harassment and marital rape in gender violence. The legal provisions seek to address the problem by bringing the perpetrators to justice. The intensification of research undertakings to examine the issues surrounding partner violence in different countries has helped to combat the problem. The research has also influenced the reinforcement of the effectiveness of health services addressing GBV (Morrison, Ellsberg & Bott 2007). The interventions facilitate the offering of technical guidance to address the situation.
Furthermore, the dissemination of information regarding gender-based violence is also a common measure of combating the prevalence of the problem (Heise, Ellsberg & Gottmoeller 2002). Notably, different countries collaborate with bodies such as the WHO to reduce the prevalence of GBV. In most cases, the tools and guidelines applied by such organisations seek to improve awareness about the concern.
The interventions have been integral in promoting the efficiency of health and legal agencies that deal with the issue. Nonetheless, some additional interventions require consideration to combat the issue successfully.
The Measures not put in Place to Rectify the Situation
Notably, the developed interventions lack structures that prevent the occurrence of gender-based violence. Notably, governments concentrate on the establishment of initiatives that support the victims of gender-based violence with little consideration on the preventive aspect of mitigating the problem (Morrison, Ellsberg & Bott 2007). Therefore, there is a need for the creation of programmes and initiatives that facilitate the prevention of sexual, physical, and psychological violence on women and girls.
Further, the coordination of responses to the issue of gender-based violence needs reinforcement (Palermo, Bleck & Peterman 2014). For instance, governments need to collaborate with different stakeholders to enhance the efficiency of the implemented preventive and supportive strategies. Therefore, coordinated efforts of various jurisdictions that address the gender violence concern form a crucial factor for consideration.
Reasons for the Persistence of Gender-based Violence
Several structural and cultural factors trigger the continued existence of GBV in the society today. The structural factors consist of the institutional practices that contribute to the victimisation of the members of the female gender. The cultural factors infer to the values, beliefs, practices, and traditions that predispose women and girls to violence. The economic structures in most societies contribute to the persistence of gender-based violence. Notably, women usually earn a lower income in comparison to the rewards offered to men (Izumi 2007). The income disparities between the two genders force women to stay with their abusive husbands since their financial status influences them to persevere. Shockingly, women earn an income of 36% less than the income earned by their male counterparts in similar positions (Teofelus 2013). The income gap discourages them (women) from seeking empowerment through employment, thus increasing their chances of becoming gender violence victims.
The culturally constructed factors for the persistence of gender-based violence also require consideration. The traditional perceptions that uphold the dominance of men contribute significantly to the prevalence of GBV (United Nations Population Fund (UNPF): Gender-based Violence 2016). For this reason, most communities depict the prevalence of hegemonic masculinity that supports the dominance of men over women in the society. Further, some communities tolerate violent behaviour against women. The notion undermines women’s wellbeing, thereby subjecting them to vulnerability. Unspeakably, some communities regard women as men’s property. This perception of abusing women and girls is regarded justifiable (Teofelus 2013).
Additionally, poor socioeconomic conditions contribute to the subjection of women to GBV. Social polarisation and poverty deprive women and girls of power, thereby exposing them to risk such as physical and sexual abuse (Morrison, Ellsberg & Bott 2007). The absence of domestic violence and industrial laws to address the issue also contribute to its prevalence. Moreover, the lack of trust in the representatives of law enforcement influences the persistence of GBV. Undoubtedly, considerable cases of GBV go unreported due to the absence of trust in officers such as the police (Heise, Ellsberg & Gottmoeller 2002). The situation gives room for the prevalence of GBV in the contemporary society since the perpetrators of the injustice go unpunished.
The prevalence of GBV is one of the main concerns today. The issue mainly affects women and girls by undermining their dignity, autonomy, health, and security. The interventions of institutions such as the WHO have been integral in combating the prevalence of gender-based violence. However, several structural and cultural factors undermine the effectiveness of measures put in place to address the problem. The execution of strategies that seek to prevent the occurrence of the issue is relevant for promoting equality in the modern society.
Beydoun, H & Beydoun, M 2014, ‘Invited commentary: Disclosure of gender-based violence in developing countries’, American Journal of Epidemiology, vol. 179, no. 5, pp.613-618.
Donnelly, J 2013, Universal human rights in theory and practice, Cornell University Press, Ithaca.
Jones, C 2014, Gender-based violence and depression in women: A feminist group work response, Web.
Heise, L, Ellsberg, M & Gottmoeller, M 2002, ‘A global overview of gender-based violence’, International Journal of Gynaecology & Obstetrics, vol. 78, no. 1, pp. 5-14.
Izumi, K 2007, ‘Gender-based violence and property grabbing in Africa: A denial of women’s liberty and security’, Gender & Development, vol. 15, no. 1, pp.11-23.
Morrison, A, Ellsberg, M & Bott, S 2007, ‘Addressing gender-based violence: A critical review of interventions’, The World Bank Research Observer, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 25-51.
Palermo, T, Bleck, J & Peterman, A 2014, ‘Tip of the iceberg: reporting and gender-based violence in developing countries’, American Journal of Epidemiology, vol. 179, no. 5, pp.602-612.
Teofelus, E 2013, ‘Gender-based violence’, Sister Namibia, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 30-31.
Western, D 2013, Gender-based violence against women and human rights, Springer, Ithaca.