Gender-based violence is generally defined as "violence that is directed
against a woman because she is a woman."
A better definition of gender-based violence is "violence directed against a person because of their gender."
World Health Organisation describes gender-based violence as a global public health problem of epidemic proportions and a fundamental violation of human rights.
Gender-based violence affects both men and women
Both women and men experience gender-based violence but the majority of victims are women and girls to the point that gender-based violence end up being described as violence against women. We tend to focus more on violence against women because the majority of gender based violence is perpetrated by men, specifically against women and girls. Even organisations that deal with gender based violence are usually reluctant to include men and boys in gender-based violence programming. However, some organisations acknowledge forms of gender violence against boys and men, such as sexual violence directed at men and forced recruitment of boys into fighting forces.
Rape is one example of gender-based violence and is gender neutral. However, even though rape affects either gender, many outlets that raise awareness against rape provide information and statistics on girls and women but not on boys and men as victims. This makes it look like a female problem.
Forms of gender-based violence
There are different forms of gender based violence, such as:
- physical violence
- verbal violence
- psychological violence
- sexual violence – is any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or sexual advances, against a person’s sexuality using coercion.
- socio-economic violence.
- child marriage
- female genital mutilation
- honour killings
- trafficking for sex or slavery
- intimate partner violence – it is the most common form of gender-based violence which includes physical, sexual, and emotional abuse by a current or former intimate partner or spouse.
- domestic violence – it is violence which is carried out by partners or family members. Intimate partner violence is also a form of domestic violence.
Gender-Based Violence At Home
In many communities girls and young women often experience violence at home, when yet home is where they are supposed to feel safe. This type of violence often range from physical punishment to sexual, emotional or psychological violence.
The sad part about violence against girls and women at home is that many of victims have accepted violence as part of their lives. Acceptance of violence usually prevents other people such as neighbors from intervening, and the cycle of violence continues. If a woman has lean’t to accept violence as part of her marriage it doesn’t affect only her, but the kids too. She might end up with daughters who are mentally hardwired to subject themselves to violence and sons who do not respect women.
In some cultures, violence towards girls and young women is accepted as a social norm. In such communities, men have the authority to discipline their wives and women are forced to accept the violence in the name of protecting family honour. Usually those communities will make women feel responsible for the violence. For example in some Zimbabwean communities if a woman is beaten for serving her husband cold food, even her parents will ask her, "why didn’t you serve him warm food then. You could have avoid the beating." This makes the woman feel responsible for the violence. The victim must never be made to feel responsible for the violence that happens to them because violence is the sole responsibility of the perpetrator.
Gender-Based Violence Against Children
Children are more vulnerable to gender based violence due to their age and their dependence on their parents or caregivers for their development, health and wellbeing. It usually starts when children are treated as the property of their parents or caregivers, rather than as independent beings.
Just like in adults, gender-based violence in kids affects girls more it affects boys. One of the more particular form of gender-based violence in young girls that authorities seem reluctant to tackle is child marriage. Child marriages have been happening in Zimbabwe since time immemorial while the responsible authorities have been turning a blind eye. Some of the causes of child marriages include poverty and religious beliefs.
Gender-Based Violence Against Girls In Schools
Many girls experience violence, such as sexual harassment, bullying and intimidation in schools either from fellow students or school authorities. This has a negative impact on girls’ ability to continue their education.
Online Gender-based violence
Online gender-based violence is targeted harassment and prejudice through technology against people based on their gender. Girls and young women reporting online harassment and abuse more than boys and men. As a result, many girls feel pressured to leave online platforms and social media.
Online gender-based violence involves:
- online harassment
- unwanted sexual remarks
- non-consensual posting of sexual media
- gender-based discriminatory memes and posts.
Shocking statistics on gender-based violence
- 1 in every 3 women suffered gender-based violence at some point in their lifetime.
- 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.
- 7% of women worldwide have been sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner.
- 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner.
- 200 million women worldwide have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting.
- In Zimbabwe, about 1 in 3 women aged 15 to 49 have experienced a form of physical violence and 1 in 4 women have experienced a form of sexual violence since the age of 15.
- In the Middle East and North Africa, 40–60 per cent of women have experienced street-based sexual harassment.
- One in 10 women in the European Union report having experienced cyber-harassment since the age of 15.
- 15 million adolescent girls worldwide, aged 15–19 years, have experienced forced sex.
- Adult women account for nearly half (49 per cent) of all human trafficking victims detected globally.
- Fewer than 40 per cent of the women who experience violence seek help of any sort.
- Over 700 million women alive today were married as children (under the age of 18).
- Globally, around 137 women are killed by their partner or a family member every day.