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Gender violence, also known as gender-based violence or gendered violence, is the term used to denote harm inflicted upon individuals and groups that is connected to normative understandings of their gender.[1] This connection can be in the form of cultural understandings of gender roles, both institutional and structural forces that endorse violence based on gender and societal influences that shape violent events along gender lines. While the term is often used synonymously with ‘violence against women’, gendered violence can and does occur for people of all genders including men, women, male and female children and gender diverse individuals.

Activities heavily associated with violence are overwhelmingly shaped by understandings of gender and gender roles. War, for example, in contemporary understandings is divided between civilian and combatants with a general understanding that men make up the vast majority of combatants and women and young children the majority of civilians. In cases like the Srebenica massacre, in which 8,000 men and male children were killed, the basis of their murder was a gendered understanding that they had the potential of being, or becoming combatants in the Bosnian war.[2]

In discussing gender and violence at regional levels, the experiences of people who exist in transition between spaces or who are not counted within regional data can potentially be omitted from this discussion; these include displaced persons, people seeking asylum and refugees.

AsiaEdit

Violence against women is a major concern in the Asian regions, especially the prevalence of marital violence varies considerably across South Asian countries. For married women aged 15–49 years, physical or sexual violence within marriage has been experienced by 20% in the Maldives, 26% in Pakistan, 28% in Nepal, 38% in India and 53% in Bangladesh.[3] Violence against women is a very serious issue that can result in death. For example, India recorded over 40,000 dowry-related deaths between 2011 and 2015. In Nepal and Bangladesh, the Asia Foundation points out that gender-based violence is the first or second cause of international homicides in these countries. One of the most noteworthy acts of historical violence against women was the institutionalization of "comfort women", the tens of thousands of young women—a majority from Korea—who were forced into sex slavery for the Japanese military during World War II.[4]

Middle EastEdit

Gendered violence in the Middle East greatly targets women and is justified by political and religious laws. Acts of gendered violence take the form of forced early marriage, rape, and domestic violence. Gendered violence can also be found in instances where Shariah, Islamic law, is used to justify killing women in order to preserve male honor. In Yemen, for example, 400 women were subjected to honor killings between 1996 and 1998.[5] Ways in which women are held to a code of honor include the practice of wearing scarves (hijab) and refraining from using makeup, failure to do so can potentially result in physical and verbal harassment or loss of jobs.[6] Scholars of Shariah make it justifiable to rape, beat, and sell non-Muslim women and girls.[7] The highly patriarchal mindset that takes place in both religious and political laws makes it difficult for women to seek an alternative option. Most women in the Middle East are financially dependent on their husband and access to education or finances is rare.[6] Furthermore, women require permission from a male guardian if they wish to marry, travel, or work.[8] Women who are married also face the risk of domestic violence. A study conducted on Egyptian women found that they believed physical violence from their partners was justifiable.[8] Most women in the Middle East are also subject to forced early marriage, that can legally occur before the age of eighteen. Socioeconomic status plays a role as poor families are highly likely to marry their daughters for the right price, specifically in Yemen, where it is more difficult to marry daughters past the age of twenty because they are seen as too old.[9] Interviews with women from Yemen and Palestine revealed that their experience with young marriage included violent and painful acts of rape and sexual assault by their husbands.[9] Gendered violence against women and female children in the Middle East is normalized and supported by existing patriarchal values and beliefs that exist both in a religious and political context.

OceaniaEdit

To understand the connection between gender and violence in the Oceanic context it is crucial to understand the effects of colonisation on Aotearoa (New Zealand), the Pacific islands and the many Indigenous nations within the Australian continent. While practices of colonisation in these regions have not been homogenous, colonisation has disrupted gender roles, relationships and modes of production, which continue to influence both contemporary gender relations and practices of violence and domination.[10] As Judy Atkinson discusses, ongoing colonial relationships of power in Australia continue to create and perpetuate gendered violence, particularly for Indigenous women.[10] Similarly, for Aotearoa/New Zealand the introduction of colonial patriarchy and racialised colonial power has fundamentally altered Māori frameworks and relationships to the land which have transformed both Māori ways of being and interpersonal relationships such as connections between genders.[11] Not only have these changed relationships resulted in sexual gender based violence, but also a broader adoption of masculine settler norms that foster violence and gender discrimination.[12] The influence of these histories continues in the twenty-first century, as the Australian federal government was motivated to acknowledge in 2015 that violence against women had become a national crisis.[13] This suggests that the problem of gender violence has reached "a particularly significant historical moment in Australia."[14]  

Despite these colonial legacies, there is a strong focus on supporting peace and deconstructing gendered relations. For example, in the Pacific, the Women, Peace and Security agenda has a large role in preventing violence in Pacific communities as women within this region play strong roles in advocating for peace and working to prevent violent conflict.[15]

EuropeEdit

Gendered violence continues to be an ongoing issue in the European region with high rates of sexual harassment, intimate partner violence, domestic violence and conflict.[16][17][18] Within the European Union research suggests that one-third of all women over fifteen years old have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence.[19] While European institutions have implemented a plethora of initiatives through the European Union, United Nations declarations concentrate on structural rather than cultural change.[20] Europe also has a long history of gender-based violence including violent periods of religious persecution through eras such as the ‘Witch hunts’.[21] Surveys from the WHO (World Health Organization) suggest that 10-60% of women have been assaulted at some point in their lives. Research from 2004 suggests that violence during pregnancy is also common, showing a prevalence of 4-32% with higher rates in developing countries. In terms of stalking, one in five women have experienced stalking from ages as young as 15 years old with three out of four of those reported in the survey receiving police attention. One in ten women say they have been stalked by a previous partner. Rape is a common issue in gender violence. According to the same survey by the EU (European Union), 31% of women say they have been raped by their partner six or more times. Most violence is carried out by a current or former partner with 22% of women reporting partner abuse. Victims of sexual violence suffer higher psychological consequences, including lowered self-esteem, vulnerability, and anxiety.

North AmericaEdit

Gendered violence exists in North America in forms such as stalking, intimate partner violence, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual assault. Overall, women in North America are victims of sexual violence far more than men. Studies indicate that 82% of sexual assault survivors are women, while 98% of offenders are men.[22] Additionally, women in North America are more likely than men to experience forms of sexual violence before the age of eighteen.[23] Forms of intimate partner violence is experienced at a higher rate by women; this is not limited to sexual violence but included stalking and severe physical violence as well.[24] Overall, about one in six students at college campuses in the United States and Canada report experiencing violence in a six-month period.[25] The main difference regarding the types of violence experienced by men and women on campus was incidents of sexual assault. Research found that women were more likely to report issues of sexual assault and emotional abuse than men, but men and women were equally likely to report other forms of violence.[25] A study done in the United States revealed that both men and women believe it is more acceptable for women to display acts of physical violence from their male partner than vice versa. Because of this, women's acts of violence are seen as less injurious and more socially acceptable.[26] As a result, it is suspected that men experience dating violence at a higher rate than studies reveal but are not likely to report such incidents.

South AmericaEdit

A major cause of gendered violence in Central and South America comes from a high prevalence of gang affiliations and memberships. In the past, criminal gangs were viewed through a male-dominant perception but new research suggests recruitment and involvement of women in gangs is rapidly increasing.[27] It used to be the case that women would support partners who were gang members, but now women are being used to commit crimes that were traditionally for men because their essence of innocence deters police.[28] Despite women carrying out masculine roles within gangs, they are still the primary target of violence and face constant abuse by their partners.[27] Women who try to leave gangs will often be threatened by other members and will stay in affiliation because they receive very little help from authorities. Some women believe it is safer to continue gang membership than to report to authorities because police in Central America, specifically in Guatemala, are notorious for abusing their power to abuse women and in other cases prove to be unresponsive to reports of violence.[27] Women who attempt to seek refuge in the United States are usually denied due to their pre-existing gang membership, or because they do not have evidence of violence being perpetrated against them.[28] Other legalities make it difficult for women to escape forms of violence such as rape or domestic violence. In Guatemala, “girls can be forced to marry their rapists to preserve their own and the family’s honor”.[29] The high influence of Christianity and Catholicism also make it unacceptable to leave a relationship due to domestic violence, which many women are expected to endure; religious influence on laws also make it impossible to receive an abortion even on occasions of rape.[29] Gendered violence is typical in South and Central America, and is mostly violence directed towards women. The lack of assistance by law enforcement make it possible for this violence to continue and the large scale presence of gangs further contribute to gendered violence happening against women despite the growing number of women with gang membership.

AfricaEdit

The prevalence of violence against women is very severe in Africa where around one third of African women report experiencing domestic violence both physical and sexual.[30] Violence within the family, especially experienced by women, is attributed to ancient socioeconomic conditions that shape social norms about marriage patterns, living arrangements and the productive role of women.[31] In fact, in several African countries, more than 50% of women aged 15 to 24 believe that domestic violence can be justified under certain circumstances. South Africa was also found to have the highest rate of rape in the world at 132.4 incidents of rape per 100,000 people. Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland were also found to have high rape rates. These findings do not account for cases of unreported sexual assault. A survey conducted by the South African Medical Research Council found that 1 in 4 South African male participants admitted to having committed rape at least once. The South African Parliament attempted to solve South Africa's sexual assault problem by enacting the Criminal Law Amendment Act in 2007 which included harsher punishments for sex-related crimes. However, the rates of sexual assault have continued to grow since the passing of the act. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is considered a form of gender based violation that has a great influence on women and girls’ bodies. More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been subjected to FGM in 30 countries in Africa and the Middle East. FGM is not only a matter of discrimination against females, but it violates a person's rights to health, security and physical integrity. It is practice which conflicts with the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.[32] Gender violence does not only target women. In South Africa, a study found that adolescent boys between 15 and 17 are five times more likely to be murdered than adolescent girls. Adolescent boys are also primarily murdered in public spaces by acquaintances while adolescent girls are more likely to be murdered in their homes by family members. In 33 African counties, adult same-sex acts are illegal, including 24 that criminalize lesbian acts. Many other countries have recently passed laws that restrict and punish groups that support work on sexual orientation and gender identity issues. Consequently, sexual minorities are subjected to gender violence, including being harassed, threatened and even killed in some places.[33]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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