Violence Against Women, And Why You Should Care
The following article is written by a guest blogger, Lisa M. Venegas.
It’s happening all around us, but many of us either won’t see it. It’s a silent plague that’s happening right now in your city, is endemic to every state in the nation, and in fact, is a problem that affects every corner of the globe. Yet despite its prevalence, it’s not often discussed either because it is shameful, because people feel powerless to do anything about it, or worse yet, because it’s expected. That plague is violence against women, and at its core it is a serious violation of human rights. Why should you care? Because it has enormous health, economic and social repercussions that affect you directly or indirectly.
Violence against women crosses all economic and social barriers. This isn’t just a problem confined to the poor or third world nations. Right now, in your neighborhood, your house of worship, your place of work, there are women whose lives have been scarred and shaped by physical, sexual and psychological cruelty that ranges from domestic abuse to rape, trafficking, and in some countries, weapons of war. But because the problem is largely hidden by silence and is not fully addressed, it continues to happen; and when it does, the scars that ripple across generations contain serious effects and consequences on personal lives and our global society as a whole.
Here are the facts and why you should care:
Violence against women, especially Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), are major public health problems.
- According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, or non-partner violence in their lifetime, and most of this is IPV. The National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS) estimates 3 million IPV victimizations occur among U.S. women ages 18 and older each year. This means the chances are great are that YOU know someone who has been a victim.
- Violence can lead to fatal consequences. Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner, and IPV is considered a major factor for suicide.
- Women who are abused can suffer from short and long term physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health problems including an increased risk of acquiring HIV.
Violence against women is a public health crisis that reaches across medical, social and economic platforms. If 3 million people a year were to suffer from a disease, federal funds would be galvanized towards research and treatment. We should ask no less to address the epidemic of violence against women, its causes, and its aftermath.
- Violence results in great healthcare and legal expenses, productivity losses, thwarts efforts to reduce poverty, and negatively impacts state and national budgets and overall development. It threatens a woman’s basic ability to contribute to financial well-being for herself and her family.
- The annual costs of intimate partner violence have been calculated at $5.8 billion dollars in global reviews by UNWomen.org and NVAWS data. The includes costs of intimate partner rape, physical assault, and stalking, with nearly $4.1 billion for direct medical and mental health care services; $0.9 billion in lost productivity from paid work and household chores for victims of nonfatal IPV; and $0.9 billion in lifetime earnings lost by victims of IPV homicide. These numbers may be grossly underestimated, as they do not include costs for legal, police and social services.
- Even in the U.S. many women lack access to free or affordable essential services such as healthcare, legal protection, and social programs that may prevent violence from occurring.
- The cost to victims and society includes isolation, inability to work or participate in normal activities.
- Violence begets violence. The emotional legacy for the children of an abused woman includes exposure to family violence and maltreatment, and often results in they themselves becoming perpetrators, abusing alcohol and drugs, and acquiring antisocial personality disorders.
The facts are grim, yes, but the reality is that something can be done about it, and you can be a part of the solution. The best way to address violence against women is to stop it from happening in the first place.
There are many ways that we can prevent current and future violence against women, and here are but a few:
- Expose violence for what it is. Recent news stories about athletes beating their wives and partners and sexual assault on college campuses are examples of how we can expose dark secrets that can be widespread or tolerated in certain sectors.
- Press your lawmakers to address violence in their communities, cities, states, and on the federal level. The more pressure we place from individuals, the greater the chance for research and programs.
- In addition, awareness videos and films that show the reality of the problem locally or nationally can bring the issue to the forefront for discussion, and help raise needed funds for solutions, such as this one created by Point3Media for the Nashville, TN- based YWCA Domestic Violence Shelter. The video helped the YWCA raise over $400,000 to increase security and build an iron perimeter fence around the shelter.
EDUCATE. School based programs have been shown to prevent violence within dating relationships, can promote gender equality and respect, and provide relationship skills. Education of health providers and law enforcement can increase sensitivity and awareness so that more women can come forward to find safety and care. Education can help target those who are most likely to be or become victims and empower them to seek assistance.
EMPOWER. Communities and governments must provide safe havens and support for victims and their families. In low income areas, micro-financing can provide women the means to support themselves and their families. Most of all, when women are empowered to be equals to men socially and legally, there is less likelihood of the continued acceptance of violence in relationships.
Why violence against women happens is the subject of another blog; but gender inequality, domination issues, sexual mores that are inherent in a culture, mental health problems and a host of other influences all play a part. The fact that it happens at all says volumes about how far individuals, societies and countries must progress in order to create more peaceful and equal societies that flourish.
Imagine what this world could do with the billions spent on treating and compensating for women who are abused or killed due to violence. Because violence against women is an age old problem, if the situation is to improve, we must talk about it as a community and a society, and work across many sectors for prevention and response. Please, be part of the solution, and let’s address this all-too silent plague.
Lisa M. Venegas is an award-winning Writer/Producer that explores health, environmental and spiritual issues. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Disclaimer: Lisa is a contributing writer for Point 3 Media for Social Media purposes.)
For more information on violence against women, please visit UNWOMEN, the WHO initiative against Intimate partner and sexual violence against women, the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women, and the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
To find out more about the YWCA of Middle Tennessee and to donate, please visit: http://ywcanashville.com/.