By: Dr. Rabia Noor Azhar
As the entire world is going through the tough times of Covid-19 pandemic now, the world has been also bearing the brunt of another pandemic since ages. Gender-based violence (GBV) or violence against women and girls (VAWG), it is a macro pandemic impinging on 1 in 3 women once in their life.
In what way a society takes care of its women is one of the clearest gauges of the success and health of that society. Whether at home, in markets, on streets or during conflict, violence against women and girls is a human rights violation of widespread sections that occurs in public and private spaces. Intimate or close partner violence is any activity by a present or previous partner or spouse that results in physical, sexual, or psychological harm. This is the utmost and frequent modes of violence faced by women worldwide.
The numbers are astounding: 35% of women globally have undergone either physical and/or sexual, close relative violence, or non-partner sexual violence. Worldwide, as much as 38% of murders of women are done by a male close relative/partner.
Violence can adversely influence women’s physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health. They also influence their children, and steer to elevated social and economic costs for women, their families, and societies. Such violence can have disastrous consequences like homicide or suicide too. Children who nurture in families where there is violence may undergo a range of behavioural and emotional disorders. These can also be connected to performing or suffering violence later in life. Violence could also be associated with higher ratios of infant and child mortality and morbidity (through, e.g. diarrhoeal diseases or malnutrition).
Some studies in 2013, uncovered that women who experienced close partner violence were nearly twice as prone to suffer depression, addiction, 16% more prone to undergo a miscarriage and 41% more expected to have a pre-mature birth.
Pakistan is included in those countries where 70% women and girls suffer physical or sexual violence in their lifetime by their close relatives and 93% women face sexual violence in many forms in public places during their lifetime.
Violence against women, especially close relative or close partner violence and sexual violence, is considered as a main public health problem and a contravention of women’s human rights in Pakistan too.
There is some proof from high-income countries that interventions through advocacy and counselling could expand contact to services for survivors of violence. This strategy implementation might be effective in lessening such violence.
However, in low-income countries, prevention strategies that have been proven to be hopeful involve approaches that empower women economically and socially via a blend of microfinance and skills training associated to gender equality.
To attain an enduring change, it is vital to ratify and enforce legislation and improve and implement policies that foster gender equality.
A community’s willingness and capability to successfully prevent and respond to familial violence, sexual crimes, stalking, and domestic violence are initial key points to an effective community response. We need community response as a chief requirement for prevention of violence against women.