Our society can be said to be a “deviant society” that has been wallowing in the cauldron of gnawing challenges that hinder its prosperity. One of the challenges bedeviling the society is violence against women, which is, undoubtedly, retrogressive.
Violence is an evil, not just violence against women in the society alone as there’s no sane society that supports violence of any kind. As a social problem, directing it to a single gender is not justifiable. The problem needs a pluralisation towards building a healthy society.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines violence as the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.
Therefore, violence against women can be well understood as the intentional use of physical force or power against women in the society which inevitably results the victims to problems both socially, physiologically and emotionally. This kind of violence against women is known as gender-based violence.
Researches conducted by the United Nations journal showed that nearly one in three women has been abused in their lifetime. And jn times of crises, the numbers rise, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic and recent humanitarian crises, conflicts and climate disasters. A new report from UN Women, based on data from 13 countries since the pandemic, shows that two in three women reported that they or a woman they know experienced some form of violence and are more likely to face food insecurity.
The multifaceted role that violence against women plays in disrupting women in the society is that, it has long term effects that would lead the women into unfortunate phycological and emotional consequences. Human Rights Council Treaty Bodies says that violence against women affects women everywhere. It impacts women’s health, hampers their ability to participate fully in society, affects their enjoyment of sexual and reproductive health and rights, and is a source of tremendous physical and psychological suffering for both women and their families.
It’s significant to note that violence against women in the world now is ubiquitous. Howbeit, there’s a global data base on violence against women in the world. In view of that, WHO conducted a report based on an analysis of available prevalence data from surveys and studies saying that the percentage of women who were ever physically assaulted by an intimate partner varies substantially by country: Barbados (30%), Canada (29%), Egypt (34%), New Zealand (35%), Switzerland (21%), United States (33%).
However, acknowledging the inevitable fact that a problem has an exigency that plays a vital role in causing it, some indices are to be identified as the root causes and the machineries in colouring violence against women in the society.
Violence against women can be said to be deeply rooted, according to UNHCR, in discriminatory cultural beliefs and attitudes that perpetuate inequality and powerlesness in particular of women and girls. On the other hand, UCH library says justifications for gender-based violence is based on gender norms – that is, social norms about the proper roles and responsibilities of men and women. These cultural and social norms socialize males to be aggressive, powerful, unemotional, and controlling, and contribute to a social acceptance of men as dominant. Also, in her article on gender-based violence written in 2019, Olivia Giovetti, says that violence against women is rooted by Harmful Gender Norms and Hunger.
According to Giovetti: “Gender stereotypes are often used to justify violence against women. Cultural norms often dictate that men are aggressive, controlling, and dominant, while women are docile, subservient, and rely on men as providers. These norms can foster a culture of abuse outright, such as early and forced marriage or female genital mutilation, the latter spurred by outdated and harmful notions of female sexuality and virginity. And Hunger’s role in igniting the flame of violence is that, just as empowering women can help eliminate hunger, food scarcity also leads to increased gender-based violence. An example has given by her that in Malawi, a 2013 survey revealed that 61% of women and girls said they had experienced sexual violence and 64% had experienced physical violence, an ongoing food crisis only worsened the situation.
However, a lot has been done to eliminate violence against women in the society. Towards this, November 25 every year has been set aside as international day for the elimination of violence against women in the world.
Women should be given voice to speak out in the society; they should be seen as a way of strengthening the spine of the equality of both genders. The culture of rape, bullying girls at school/home should be challenged. Also, it can be eliminated by engaging boys and men as agents of change as detailed in Plan International Publication; youth and parents should be mobalised about childhood and forced marriage.
I would like to close with what United Nations says on eliminating violence against women in the society: “Another future without violence against women is possible with education, essential services across policing, justice, health, and social sectors, and sufficient financing dedicated to women’s rights.”
Salim Yakubu Akko,