International survey

Violence against women

Article in images

Violence against women is not just physical ©Thinkstock - Violence against women
Violence against women is not just physical ©Thinkstock
50 years ago today, the brutal assassination of three of the four Mirabal sisters from the Dominican Republic shook the world.

Since then, the 25th November has become International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

First established by women’s rights groups in 1981, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women was officially recognized by the United Nations in 1999.

This day also marks the beginning of the 16 days of Activism Against Gender Violence, which culminates, on December 10, in International Human Rights Day.

But even after half a century of campaigns to raise awareness of ongoing violence against women, we still share the same potential fate as the three sisters: Violence against women is still prevalent in every part of the world.

The World’s Women 2010 report from the UN claims that, depending on locality, 59 percent of all women will be subject to some form of violence during their lifetime.

The report found that violence against women is a universal phenomenon but that current statistical measurements of violence against women provide only a limited source of information.

In Europe the majority of cases of violence against women are domestic violence, consisting of physical and/or psychological aggression in a relationship.

According to a 2009 survey by Women’s Aid, domestic violence accounts for between 16 per cent and one quarter of all recorded crime in the UK alone.

One in four of our readers have been victims of violence

Even though these bleak figures come as no surprise to us, we were little prepared, at, for the results of our own international survey on violence.

Among our readers and readers of our international sister sites in France, Spain, Italy and Germany, a quarter or more of respondents have experienced violence in their relationship, almost every fifth woman has been violently attacked in her family, and some 12-20 percent have been raped at least once.

80-90 percent of respondents said that violence affects women from all social groups and backgrounds. While an average of 40 percent believe that violence against women is not a result of alcohol abuse, psychological stress or poverty but rather the desire to dominate the other person.

Pierrette Pape, researcher at European Women’s Lobby (EWL) agrees: “Violence has to do with inequality between women and men. Alcohol or unemployment do not constitute reasons for violence, they just make it worse as we proved in our recent report.” 

The joint EWL/Oxfam study shows that the economic recession has lead to an increase of domestic/intimate relationship violence, trafficking in women for sexual exploitation, and a rise in prostitution and violent attacks on prostitutes.

“What was striking is that nevertheless, some women especially in Spain still believe that forced sex in a relationship is acceptable, that a women from time to time just needs to give in to a man’s needs.”, expert Pape says analyzing the results of our survey.



Shila Meyer Behjat
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