Jo Morris explains violence against women and girls around the world, and the sexual and reproductive health consequences.
Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world. It knows no social, economic or national boundaries. Worldwide, the UN estimates one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence or abuse in her lifetime because she is a woman. Violence against women is often described as a ‘global epidemic’ by international agencies.
VAW may manifest itself in a variety of ways, including: domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, forced and child marriage, sex trafficking, and female genital cutting/mutilation (FGC/M). Communities and societies are also affected – as are the men who are trapped in the concept that their masculinity depends on exerting power over women, whether at work or at home. Sexual harassment and abuse may take place in the workplace, on public transport, in the community or in the home.
Sexual harassment and abuse may take place in the workplace, on public transport, in the community or in the home. Sexual harassment and verbal abuse is a frequent hazard for women at work, a threat that is intensified in male dominated cultures, where the power relations between women and men is very uneven.
Gender-based violence undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence. Victims of violence can suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, traumatic fistula, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and even death.
Jo Morris is Visiting Professor in Practice, London School of Economics and Political Science, Gender Institute. She is FWF’s gender expert.