A Global Threat Of Gender Based Violence

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Every day we hear about another woman brutally murdered and rape, another woman a victim of the cruel reality of gender-based violence and all we can do is ask ourselves why. Gender-based violence is a term used that refers to any harm committed against someone’s will that negatively impacts their psychological and physical health because of their gender (Mpani & Nsibande, 2015). There are numerous types of gender-based violence with different reasons why it is being performed, thus having severe consequences on the victim’s well-being. This essay will focus on the main forms and causes of gender-based violence, the consequences of GBV on the victim, possible prevention strategies against GBV and why it should be prevented.

One of the most common forms of gender-based violence is domestic violence or also known as intimate partner violence. It can be defined as any form of physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse when one partner feels the need to control or dominate the other (Toby D. Goldsmith, 2020). In many cultural beliefs people think men have the right to assert dominance toward women, and that women are not equal to men (Toby D. Goldsmith, 2020). It is believed that men have the right to discipline women when they have done something ‘wrong’, that sexual harassing their partner is normal and women cannot deny their partner sex (Oxfam, 2020).

These types of behaviors of domestic violence are caused by many different factors; it can be internal or external factors. Alcohol and drug abuse is strongly associated with domestic violence because the abuser has less control over their behavior when under the influence of drugs or alcohol and can become more violent toward their partner and causing imminent harm, even death, toward their partner (Toby D. Goldsmith, 2020). Another cause can be when the perpetrator has a history of violence within their family, either witnessing violence or being a victim of child abuse, thus learning these violent behaviors from their family members or cultural influences and growing up with the idea that abuse toward their partner or being abused by their partner is normal (WHO, 2017).

Violence against women is one of the most extreme forms of gender-based violence in South Africa (CSVR, 2016). The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women defines it as an act of violence that result in psychological, physical or sexual harm toward women and girls (Shepard, 2010). Violence against women can also be associated with economic abuse where community standards give men higher privileges and status in employment, therefore discriminating against women and not giving women the same opportunities given to men (WHO, 2017). Economic abuse also includes the control over a female partner’s assets or income, thus giving the female partner no economic independence or control over their income (CSVR, 2016).

The root cause of violence against women is gender inequality and the imbalance of power in a relationship and favor men over women. Cultural norms often place men in superior positions in relation to women due the practicing of cultural traditions such as labola (CSVR, 2016). It is mainly believed that violence against women, the use of alcohol and the ownership of guns are indicators of masculinity in the community which ultimately give men the idea that practicing such behaviors are normal.

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Gender discrimination can be seen as another form of gender-based violence which indicates that heterosexuality is the only acceptable sexual orientation (Oxfam, 2020). It is also known as discrimination against the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gender and queer) community, people with disabilities, widows and divorced women. Such people experienced unequal rights, responsibilities and opportunities (Mpani & Nsibande, 2015). The main cause for this form of gender-based violence is due to the lack of education and also due to cultural and religious beliefs of an individual. It is believed that divorced women have less value and are seen as the property of the family in law who paid for them, thus not being respected by the family (Oxfam, 2020).

Other forms of gender-based violence include physical, emotional and sexual violence which are all strongly associated with violence against women and domestic violence. Physical violence is a form of violence that assert any physical harm toward a person like kicking or punching, whereas emotional violence involves verbal abuse which affects the victim’s self-esteem and self-confidence (CSVR, 2016). Sexual violence, on the other hand, involves sexual intercourse or abuse without the victims consent such as rape, sexual harassment and the trafficking of victims for sexual purposes (CSVR, 2016). The main cause of these forms of violence is due to cultural beliefs which not only make men superior toward women and that women must be submissive toward their male partner, but also women must obey their husbands and act according to their male partner’s wishes (Oxfam, 2020).

Gender-based violence has a diverse list of consequences on the victims and can be physical, psychological and behavioral effects. Physical effects may include head injuries, internal organ damage, loss of eyesight and/or hearing (CSVR, 2016). Other physical affects can include unwanted pregnancies which include gynecological problems, abortions and sexual transmitted infections such as HIV (WHO, 2017). Women who are victims of intimate partner violence have an increased possibility of miscarriages, stillbirths and low birth weight in babies (WHO, 2017). Possible psychological effects include post-traumatic stress disorder resulting in nightmares and flashbacks, a major form of depression that can result in suicide, and severe anxiety disorders (CSVR, 2016). Finally, behavioral effects on victims of gender-based violence include increased substance abuse like alcohol and drugs, males being perpetrators and females being victims later in life if they were exposed to violent behaviors within their family or community as well as practicing risky sexual behaviors due to exposure of violence (WHO, 2017).

There is a lot that needs to be done and more resources are needed to achieve long-term prevention of gender-based violence. One of the most crucial strategies in preventing gender-based violence is to put an end to any form of discrimination against women and girls (WHO, 2017). Having women empowerment initiatives will help end discrimination against women in the work place and give them equal opportunities in employment and making decisions. It is important to educate young boys and girls that any form of gender-based violence is unacceptable and what the consequences of such violence might be by having this topic as a part of a life skills subject taught in school (WHO, 2017). Health workers can help educate children on the linkage between gender-based violence and sexual-reproductive health issues in a “youth-friendly” manner by doing community visits at schools and allow adolescents to have access to gender-based violence and sexual-reproductive health services (Shepard, 2010). By identifying victims of gender-based violence at an early stage will help in the prevention of repetitive violence against them and can therefore provide them with the appropriate support they need (WHO, 2017). Having population-based surveys can help identify possible gender-based violence victims and educate the community on the forms of gender-based violence and what behavior to look out for to prevent them from being a victim (WHO, 2017).

It is clear that gender-based violence is a major problem, not only in South Africa but around the world. So many young people are losing their lives because we are not working hard enough to prevent this from happening. I think it is very important to educate children from a young age that gender-based violence is a massive problem and what can be done to prevent this form of violence. Perpetrators should have a more severe punishment if they are found guilty of gender-based violence, because this just might help in lowering the total number of reports. It is important that we should stand together and fight against this problem, because together we can stop someone from being a victim or becoming a perpetrator.

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A Global Threat Of Gender Based Violence. (2022, July 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 18, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/a-global-threat-of-gender-based-violence/
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