In the context of talking about sexual and gender based violence, it is of utmost importance to distinguish between sex and gender. Sex refers to the biological predisposition of being a male or female, while gender refers to a social construction which is socially created. It’s sexual and gender-based violence because it’s violence against sexual predisposition of somebody accompanied by social and cultural norms against one’s gender. Sexual and gender-based violence can be violence against men by men, men by women, women by men or women by women. But I’ll be more concerned with violence against women by men.
Culture and Gender Based Violence
The role in which culture plays in sexual and gender-based violence is perilous because most sexual and gender based violence cases revolve around social and cultural norms which are culturally made by the society. Social norms are contextually and socially derived uncontested intentions of ethical behaviors. Sexual and gender-based violence persist as one of the extensively prevalent and ongoing issues confronting women and girls globally.
Dispute and other humanitarian emergencies spot women and girls at heightened risk of numerous forms of sexual and gender-based violence. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) 2015 Guidelines for Integrating Sexual and Gender based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Action defines sexual and gender-based violence as “any fatal act that is perpetrated against a person’s will and that is based on socially ascribed (i.e., gender) differences between females and males.
What Makes up Gender Based Violence?
Gender based violence comprises of conducts that impose physical, sexual or mental harm or hardship, perils of such acts, intimidation and other privations of freedom. These destructive acts can transpire in public and in private. Toxic social norms that strengthen sexual and gender-based violence include women’s sexual virtue, conserving family respect over women’s safety, and men’s sovereignty to discipline women and children.
To examine the consequences of sexual and gender-based violence deterrence programs, it’s significant to formulate a synopsis, valid, and credible standard to explore change over time in destructive social norms and private beliefs that retain and condone sexual violence and other aspects of sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls.
It’s paramount for us to know that women are at enormous risk of sexual and gender-based violence. We have seen circumstances where women are endangered to parental violence and violence during adolescence and survivors always report adverse effects on physical, mental and reproductive health. Often time hostile health and social effects imposed on women are never dealt with because often women do not divulge sexual and gender-based violence to providers or key health care or other services (e.g., safety, legal, traditional authorities) because of social norms that accuse the woman for the onslaught.
Personal Experience with Gender Based Violence
I could recall two years back a friend’s elder brother molested and beat his wife mercilessly because she served his mother food with left hand. To him, it’s against his culture and he had to beat his wife till she was hospitalized. There are many cases where women are beaten badly because of their biological predispositions and sometimes because of cultural norms that give men more power. Another example I’ll give again was a man who beat his wife because she cooked food for him while she was on her menstrual period which he claimed goes against his culture and traditional norms.
Victimizations are given to women who are victimized, and questions are raised as to why she was out alone after dark, why she was not modestly clothed, etc. Why norms that prioritize such socio-cultural based violence are upheld and bestowed approval and normality?
Social and Psychological Impacts of Gender Based Violence
Sexual and gender-based violence have caused a lot of physiological, psychological and sociological injuries to numerous women and all indicate and enhance inequities between men and women and jeopardizes the health, self-respect, protection and freedom of victims. It incorporates a substantial variety of human rights infringements, including sexual exploitation of teenagers, rape, home cruelty, sexual battering and harassment, trafficking of women and girls and multiple other dangerous traditional practices.
Any one of these abuses can leave deep mental wounds; ravage the wellbeing of women and girls in a widespread manner, encompassing their reproductive and sexual health, and in some specimens, results in death.
It is a Human Rights Violation
Violence against women is the most vastly yet subtlest renowned human rights intimidation in the world. It is an exhibition of historically unequal hegemony approaches between men and women, which have directed to dominance over and unfairness against women by men and to the impediment of the comprehensive advancement of women. Brutality against women is one of the crucial social tools by which women are impelled into a subordinate role compared with men. Such subordination is primarily geared by socio-cultural orientation, which thereof endangers women’s lives, bodies, and mental chasteness.
This violence may have contemplative effects, both direct and indirect, on a woman’s reproductive health, including: undue pregnancies and insufficient acceptance to family planning information and contraceptives, hazardous abortion or damages unremitting throughout a legitimate abortion subsequent to an undesirable pregnancy, drawbacks from recurring rent, high-risk pregnancies and deficiency of follow-up care, sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, continual gynecological problems as well as mental hardships.
Four Facets of Violent Behavior
In 2001, Murphy and Ringheim posited four facets always linked with violent behavior:
- norms of male immunity and ownership of women;
- male maintenance of ownership in the family;
- male enactment of decision-making in the family;
- and notions of masculinity affixed to supremacy and sovereignty.
However, violence against women is inextricably associated to gender-based imbalances.
In conclusion, to curtail and reduce sexual and gender-based violence, fundamental deterrence programs that pursue to promote change by dealing with the elementary causes and drivers of sexual and gender-based violence at a population level should be enacted. Such programs traditionally included endeavors to economically empower girls and women, enhanced legal penalty, enshrining women’s rights and gender equivalence within national legislation and policy, and other measures to promote gender equality and reduce sexual and gender based violence.