Gender based violence in domestic space
Aggiornato il: mar 5
(This article was written for Globi)
Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, an important and symbolic campaign promoted by the United Nations Secretary-General, known also as “The Orange day”. The aim of this initiative is to raise awareness about preventing and ending any kind of violence against women and girls promoting international actions for 16 days, until the Human rights day (December 10th).
Violence against women and girls is one of the worst human rights crimes. It is estimated, according to the World Health Organization 2013 global study, that 35% of women and girls in the worldwide
population are affected. The country analyses reveal that up to 70% of women experienced physical and/or sexual violence by intimate partner and/or not partner in Uganda, Samoa (75,8%) and Peru (70,8%).
According to The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), speaking about gender based violence (GBV) means referring to that violence “directed against a woman because she is a woman” including “acts that inflict physical, mental or sexual harm or suffering, threats of such acts, coercion and other deprivations of liberty”.
The family environment, also called domestic space, is where the violence happens more frequently every day around the world.
Cultures, religions, traditions, social classes cannot be considered as predictive factors of GBV any more, despite the fact for long time they were. The evidence from statistics in the widest European survey on violence against women estimates the highest rates of physical violence experienced by a current and/or previous partner since the age of 15 are in developed countries like Finland, Denmark and Latvia. One explanation might be the highest tendency in these societies to contact Police, Social Services, etc. than other countries, so that the phenomenon becomes more visible.
Domestic violence is the most insidious because the perpetrator is a known person inside the family, mostly a partner and/or ex-partner. In the majority of cases the victim is a woman and the perpetrator a man.
Domestic violence can be physical assault (slapping, shoving, burning, stabbing, beating, kicking, etc.), sexual assault and/or psychological violence (humiliation, withholding money, intimidation, stalking, etc.).
It might seem difficult to understand how any woman would continue any relationship in such dangerous conditions, frequently lethal. However, women very often hide their drama without announcing and reporting it to authorities because of fear or shame. This is why domestic violence is highly underrepresented within national and international statistics.
When we speak about gender based domestic violence (GBDV) we have to consider its serious consequences on women’s lives. Nowadays thanks to fieldwork studies and research we know that the long term consequences of domestic violence are many and diverse (see more in Fra 2014 tab. 4) such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, self confidence loss, vulnerability, difficulties in sleeping, relationships, and others.
These situations generate a huge human, social and economical cost not only for the victim, but also for the perpetrator, including eventually their children, relatives, friends, job contexts and for the whole country in itself (Fra 2014) causing a deep social exclusion. For example in the UK domestic violence has been estimated costing about ₤23 billion per year (UN: The situation -2009).
The most recent initiatives concerning domestic violence include taking care both of the victim and the perpetrator. Men need to be somehow rehabilitated through psychological assistance from the violence they enacted. As we know, very often the violence occurs several times, not just once, by the same partner and/or ex-partner.
Listening sessions and innovative therapeutic activities, like the “Theatre of the Oppressed”, might represent a chance for the people involved to recover somehow the situation preventing a future violence cycle.