‘I’m sorry, it won’t happen again’ is the default silencing phrase violated women hide behind instead of speaking up. Over the past decade, international bodies like the United Nations have strived to create outlets for violated women to speak freely about their horrible experiences.
According to UN Women, violence against women and girls manifests itself in physical, sexual and psychological forms.
Despite efforts to create outlets for violated women to share their stories, there hasn’t been much of a success. And even the October 2017 #MeToo movement didn’t create much of a comfortable outlet for average women to speak up and share their stories.
The consequences of speaking up seemed to far outweigh the truth; that women need to be empowered to a point where they no longer are targets of horrendous individuals or groups violating them.
And so, even as year after year, the trumpet is blown to relieve women from gender-based violence, more and more women suffer in silence.
One in three of the global female population experience violence in their lifetime, per UN Women. This violence cuts across social status, race, religion and region. One in two dead women was killed by their partner or family member worldwide as at 2012.
This gives a strong impression that a large portion of the global female population experience violence.
On November 25 2016, in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, UNESCO’s publication: ‘Climate change: impact on violence against women and girls’, discusses the link between natural disasters and occurring increases in violence against women. Trafficking is one of the common fates women in regions of natural disasters face as they are mostly separated from their support system.
Despite the unacceptability of violence against women, one might wonder: what exactly causes any form of violence against women?
Factors like the historical imbalance of societal position of males and females have been associated with gender-based violence, says Forum for Women and Development (FOKUS Kvinner). “The 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women recognised violence against women as a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, both arising from and reinforcing gender inequality and discrimination.”
Global and regional laws have been passed protecting women’s rights against gender-based violence. Prevention from an early age and the provision of services accessible to all survivors have become more focused on by governments and societies. 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based violence (November 25 to December 10) which began in 1991, is one of the global movements now catching on too to discuss and eliminate violence against women.
More than ever, the digital community is active in this fight. Campaigns like #TimesUp, #BalanceTonPorc, #NiUnaMenos, #MetooIndia begun on social media. They have struck conservations pertaining to gender-based violence, creating strong reactions as seen with the 2017 #MeToo campaign.
As much as these efforts have achieved some gains already, it is apparent how insufficient they are in eliminating completely every form of violence against women.
Presently, only almost three-quarters of the world’s countries has domestic violence been outlawed. Only 78 countries have legislation that explicitly criminalizes marital rape. Nigeria is not one of those countries; based on the implication of Section 6 on Section 357 of the Nigerian Criminal Code, marital rape is not seen as an offence.
More radical agitations are welcome in ending violence against women. Gender-based violence is not a disease. It is a reality that constantly evolves and differs according to region, culture, and individual, making it tricky but not impossible to tackle.
Every woman has the right to be human. Being human means living without the threat of being violated, living freely and decently.
inbetweens, extremes and insufficiencies