Feminism | Posted by Christina O on 08/9/2013
On Violence Against Women
An astonishing number of women desperately fear for their lives every day due to the fatal fact that they were born female in a patriarchal society. Violent acts are committed against women all the time in every corner of the world, despite the fact that this is a violation of fundamental human rights.
Violent atrocities like sexual violence, FGM, forced child marriage and female feticide and infanticide (amongst many others) happen to women of all different ethnicities, ages, classes, cultures and sexual orientations all over the world based solely on their gender. It is utterly devastating to think about the fact that a woman in the world today could be attacked, beaten, or otherwise cruelly punished for refusing an arranged marriage, dressing immodestly, being a victim of sexual assault, or even simply talking to a man who is a nonrelative.
Women have a right to feel safe in their own communities and homes, and to live free from the terrorizing fear of genderbased violence – but this is a right violated all too often. Secretary General of Amnesty International, Irene Kahn has stated that “Disparaging a woman’s sexuality and destroying her physical integrity have become a means by which to terrorize, demean and ‘defeat’ entire communities, as well as to punish, intimidate and humiliate women.”
Violence against women is a way to dominate and control women and position them as unequal, submissive, and subservient (the fact that sexual assault is the most underreported crime in the world is an injustice in and of itself.) But violence against women has been around for ages – for example, over 2,000 years ago Roman law gave a man life and death authority over his wife. It wasn’t until the feminist movement that sexual violence became part of public awareness in the United States. The Women’s Rights Movement brought new legislation such as the first marital rape law in Nebraska in 1976, which made it illegal for a husband to rape his wife. The 1994 Violence Against Women Act was also enacted, which tightened federal penalties for sex offenders and funded services for victims of rape and domestic violence.
And yet, in this day and age someone is raped in the U.S. every two minutes. Of all women who have ever been raped, physically abused, or stalked by an intimate partner, almost 70 percent first had those experiences before age 25. Most rapes aren’t reported and of those that are reported, only 6.5% lead to a conviction. Rape results in about 32,000 pregnancies each year.
At least 1 in 3 women worldwide has been abused, coerced into sex, or otherwise assaulted in her lifetime. 79 countries have absolutely no legislation against domestic violence. Every year fifty thousand people, mostly women and children, are forcibly brought to the U.S. Many of them end up working for little or no money as prostitutes, domestic workers, and sweatshop workers.
But this problem isn’t just restricted to the women who directly experience such violence, but also impacts future generations. For example children who grow up in an environment of emotional or physical violence are more likely to be a perpetrator or victim of violence later on in their life. This is because the suffering they witnessed as a child was their example of normal behavior. Young children growing up in male dominated culture are raised to think that it’s a man’s duty to punish or control a woman, which causes these children to continue the cycle of violence.
Human rights groups such as Amnesty International continue to promote gender equality and peace across the globe. Activist groups are also currently working to raise awareness and better our society to remove stigma of victims. In the United States, the 2013 Violence Against Women Act was recently enacted after being signed by the President on March 7, 2013. This act helps government agencies and victim advocates work together to fight all types of violence against women by starting programs to prevent violence and help victims, providing more services, and including protection for Native American, LGBT, and immigrant women.
I believe that we can change and improve our world by raising awareness to replace ignorance and by doing what we can to improve society for all genders.
Read other posts about: Amnesty International, female feticide and infanticide, Feminism, male-dominated society, patriarchy, rape, safety, sex trafficking, sexual assault, violence against women, women and safety
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