Let’s raise our voiceThis is a time to unite and educate every person to speak out against gender violence.
‘My uncle gives me chocolates and wants me to show my private parts. I think this is okay, if he is fulfilling my desire I should also fulfil his desire’. (10-year-old girl)
‘My husband slaps me, has sex with me against my will, and I have to follow. I think this is usual, the way husband behaves’. (45-year-old woman)
‘My boss, he desires to sleep with me if I want to continue with my job/work. I think this is okay because this work is crucial and sleeping is just some payback to my boss’. (30-year-old female)
These types of myths and stereotypical attitudes about gender-based violence shape the way in which society perceives and responds to the violence perpetrated against women. Such myths and attitudes are harmful, as they tend to blame the survivors for the violence, rather than holding the perpetrators responsible for their behaviours. These are some of the statements collected in Nepal and Bangladesh during my study and work. While going through various papers, we could easily figure out that this was not limited to the developing countries and also existed worldwide, cutting across all generations, nationalities, communities and spheres of our societies, irrespective of age, ethnicity, disability or other backgrounds.
Women and girls are most at risk and most affected by gender-based violence. Consequently, the terms 'violence against women' and 'gender-based violence' are often used interchangeably. However, boys and men can also experience gender-based violence, as can sexual and gender minorities. Regardless of the target, gender-based violence is rooted in structural inequalities between men and women and is characterised by the use and abuse of physical, emotional or financial power and control. Intimate partner violence, sexual coercion, childhood sexual abuse, rape, trafficking, acid attack, female genital mutilation, honour killing and dowry death are some examples of gender-based violence.
Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today. It is a major obstacle to the fulfilment of women and girls’ human rights and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Goal 5). Violence against women—particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence—is a major public health problem and a violation of women's human rights. It has been supposed that men are more likely to perpetrate violence if they have low education, a history of child maltreatment, exposure to domestic violence against their mothers, harmful use of alcohol, unequal gender norms including attitudes accepting of violence, and a sense of entitlement over women.
Violence can negatively affect women’s physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health, and may increase the risk of acquiring HIV in some settings. Worldwide, one in five women and girls (19 percent) between the ages of 15-49 have reported experiencing physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner where 49 countries currently have no laws protecting women from domestic violence. In 18 countries, husbands can legally prevent their wives from working. Various researches have proven that in humanitarian disasters (like earthquakes) women are 14 times more likely to die or be injured as a result of the existing social inequalities. In countries where women and men enjoy equal rights, the number of deaths were not significantly different between them.
In Nepal, the situation is almost similar. Males are given priority from birth to old age due to the existing patriarchal culture whereas girls/women experience violence throughout their lives. According to the 2016 Nepal Demographic and Health Survey, 22 percent of Nepali women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence since age 15; 7 percent have experienced sexual violence, and 6 percent of the women who have ever been pregnant have experienced violence during pregnancy. Intimate partner violence in pregnancy also increases the likelihood of miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-term delivery and low birth weight babies. Studies have shown that women who experienced intimate partner violence were 16 percent more likely to suffer a miscarriage and 41 percent more likely to have a pre-term birth.
These forms of violence can lead to depression, post-traumatic stress and other anxiety disorders, sleep difficulties, eating disorders, and suicide attempts. A 2013 analysis found that women who have experienced intimate partner violence were almost twice as likely to experience depression and problem drinking. Children who grow up in families where there is violence may suffer a range of behavioural and emotional disturbances. These can also be associated with perpetrating or experiencing violence later in life. Intimate partner violence has also been associated with higher rates of infant and child mortality and morbidity (through, for example, diarrhoeal disease or malnutrition).
Sex-selective abortion is still prevalent in Nepal, India and the Republic of Korea. Battering during pregnancy has caused serious emotional and physical effects on women and birth outcomes. Coerced pregnancy, for example, mass rape in war, female infanticide, and emotional and physical abuse have made conditions worse in society. This may even result in differential access to food and medical care for girl infants. Dating and courtship violence, for example, acid throwing and date rape, are serious acts of violence against girls/women. Sexual abuse in the workplace is also prevalent, where the boss wanting to have sex with female employees seeking promotion is a kind of abuse.
Violence against women is a serious violation of women’s human rights. It affects women and has negative health consequences for women and their children, no matter when, where or how it takes place. Any form of violence is unacceptable, and women and girls who are facing violence during Covid-19 cannot be ignored. In Nepal, more than 1,203 girls have been raped during this pandemic, with more than five such cases occurring every day. This kind of situation should be discouraged. Everyone should be supportive of women and girls who have gone through violence and advocate for lessening the problem. Unity is necessary to reduce suffering. This is a time to unite and educate every person to raise their voice against violence. Let’s raise our voice against any kind of gender-based violence.
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