Violence Against Women

What is Violence Against Women (VAW)?

Name of Office: FHO, NCDPC

Violence Against Women is any act of gender-based violence that results or is likely to result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women including threats or such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty whether occurring in public or private life. Gender-based violence is any violence inflicted on women because of their sex.

VAW in the family or domestic violence is “violence that occurs within the private sphere, generally between individuals who are related through intimacy, blood or law.” It may take the form of physical violence (hitting with the fist, slapping, kicking different parts of the body, stabbing with a knife, etc) or psychological and emotional violence (intimidation, harassment, stalking, damage to property, public ridicule or humiliation, repeated verbal abuse, marital infidelity, etc.) or sexual violence (rape, sexual harassment, acts of lasciviousness, treating a woman or child as a sex object, making demeaning and sexually suggestive remarks, physically attacking the sexual parts of the victim’s body, forcing him/her to watch obscene publications and indecent shows or forcing the woman or her child to do indecent acts and/or make films thereof, forcing the wife and mistress/lover to live in the conjugal home or sleep together in the same room with the abuser, etc) or economic abuse (withdrawal of financial support or preventing the victim from engaging in any legitimate profession, occupation, business or activity, deprivation or threat of deprivation of financial resources and the right to use and enjoyment of the conjugal, community or property owned in common, destroying household property; and controlling the victim’s own money or properties or solely controlling the conjugal money or properties.

VAW in the community often takes one or more of the following forms: physical violence such as physical chastisement, trafficking for both the sex industry and the service industry, forced prostitution, battering by employers and murder; sexual violence such as rape, sexual harassment and sexual intimidation, and psychological violence such as intimidation, sanction or isolation by community/cultural norms based on attitudes of gender discrimination.

State Violence Against Women consists of political violence such as tolerance of gender-based violence, trafficking, domestic violence, sexual abuse, forced pregnancy and forced sterilization, custodial violence such as military and police rape, torture, and suppression of the political acts of the women’s movement, abuse of women in refugee and relocation camps and in prisons; and institutional violence such as enforcement of discriminatory laws and regulations, policies and programs such as abortion policies, reproduction policies and matrilineal laws.

 

Why VAW happens and persists?

Name of Office: FHO, NCDPC

Cultural beliefs and traditions have conditioned people to think that men and women have different roles – that men are the leaders, pursuers, providers and take on dominant roles in society, while women and nurturers, men’s companions and supporters, and take on subordinate roles in society. This perception results in men having more social privileges than women, thus gaining for men the power over women. With power comes the need to control to retain that power. And VAW is the expression of men’s need to control women.

● Many instances of VAW have been dismissed as having been caused by the women themselves. Domestic violence is sometimes blamed on a “nagging” or “neglectful” wife. Rape is sometimes attributed to a raped woman’s “flirtatious” ways.

● Some instances of VAW have been dismissed as trivial, such as woman accusing her employer of sexual harassment is believed to have an active and malicious mind which causes her to misinterpret her employer’s appreciation of her good looks.

● There are still outdated laws that reinforce the cultural belief that men, having the dominant role in society, should have more privileges than women. Articles 333 and 334 of the Revised Penal Code penalize a wife who commits adultery, but not a husband who commits the same adulterous act of having sexual relations with a woman who is not his wife. A husband may only be penalized for concubinage, or when he keeps a mistress in a conjugal dwelling or when he has sexual intercourse with a woman who is not his wife, under scandalous circumstances.

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