4 Dec 2023

'Violence against women remains rife': Decades of activism have failed to stem gender violence

1:24 pm on 4 December 2023

By Grace Jennings-Edquist, 360info

Stop violence against Women,sexual abuse, human trafficking, The concept of sexual harassment against women and rape, black and white image

The good news is that violence against women is preventable, the author writes. Photo: 123RF

Analysis - Decades since the Global 16 Days Campaign began, violence against women remains rife - and a significant barrier to achieving true gender equality,

For 16 days each year since 1991, gender equality activists have marked a global campaign aimed at tackling gender-based violence.

But more than three decades since activists founded the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign, violence against women and girls remains a widespread global issue - and a significant barrier to achieving true gender equality.

As global conflicts including the Israel-Hamas war dominate headlines, conflict-related sexual violence remains widespread across the globe.

Domestic and intimate partner violence also remains rife, despite being outlawed in at least 155 countries.

It's clear that despite some wins in recent years, including the #MeToo movement, violence against women and girls persists across the world - ranging from sex trafficking and marital rape to child marriage and child sexual abuse.

Almost one in three women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner, and this figure does not include sexual harassment.

Laws have failed to rein in the problem and impunity for these crimes remains common.

Barriers including stigma, under-resourced judiciaries and socio-cultural attitudes prevent existing laws on crimes - including rape and acid attacks - from being consistently enforced. And although the United Nations strongly condemns the proliferation of conflict-related sexual violence, enforcing international law to bring perpetrators to justice remains a challenge.

This year, additional economic and environmental concerns compound these difficulties.

As many nations contend with inflation and rising commodity prices, the cost of living crisis represents an additional barrier to women seeking to leave abusive relationships.

Climate change exacerbates the risk of violence against women (who make up the vast majority of those displaced by climate change) and also contributes to the feminisation of poverty.

Without income or resources, women are more susceptible to sexual violence and abuse as a result of the current climate and economic crises.

The good news is that violence against women is preventable - and national governments are increasingly recognising that gender-based violence is a public health crisis that carries significant economic costs.

Increasingly, innovations in sectors including law, tech and healthcare are helping tackle gendered violence and inequalities - leaving room for cautious optimism despite slow progress in some areas.

This article was originally published by 360info.org.