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This text was written by Justine McGahan, Intern at RWI.
It is estimated that, worldwide, a women or girl is killed in her home every 11 minutes.
Domestic Violence is the focus of this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence Campaign, civil society demanding the ‘End Feminicide Now’.
The 16 Days Campaign, first launched in 1991 starts on the 25th of November, The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and runs until the International Human Rights Day on the 10th of December. These dates being chosen for their emphasis that women’s rights are human rights.
In fact Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) is still one of the most pervasive human rights violations worldwide as violence remains a reality in the lives of women and girls. It is estimated that 1 in 3 women will experience some form of SGBV in their lifetimes, and, considering the low levels of reporting (less than 40%) it is likely that the number that experience such acts of violence is in reality way higher.
SGBV is an issue not only of direct act of violence but also of continuum. The low levels of reporting are a direct result of the low levels of prosecution and even lower rates of conviction for acts of violence against women. Survivors are deterred from reporting the events as faced with dismissal and a risk of re-traumatisation during prosecution as their experience is questioned and their life put under scrutiny.
Furthermore, crisis are known to significantly heighten the risk of violence against women. The Covid19 pandemic and the consequential restriction measures led to a 33% increase in the occurrence of domestic violence and resulting feminicide exacerbated by the high levels of isolation of the victims. Insecurity brought by climate change, economic instability, conflict, and the resulting displacement are also known to have a direct effect on the perpetrating of violence against women and girls.
Parallel to the persistent continuum of violence, we are currently witnessing increasing backlash against women’s rights and activists, including the rolling back of reproductive but also a rise in ‘anti-feminist’ groups and targeting of women’s rights activists.
It is in this context that we have entered the 2022 16 Day Against Gender Based Violence Campaign. This time must be used for advocacy and to push for the recognition of SGBV for what it is, a form of discrimination against women.
The gendered aspect of SGBV cannot be ignored, the fact is: most victims are women, most perpetrators are men, and while not all men will perpetrate SGBV and not all women will experience it, women are expected to live their lives factoring in the risk of violence.
This is not to deny the occurrence of gender-based directed against men, which is an issue that is often overlooked and needs to be recognised to a greater extent, however, it must be acknowledge that women are predominantly affected by gender-based violence. Raising awareness around SGBV will benefit all victims.
Understood in this way, SGBV remains the ultimate expression of the lack of equality between men and women.
As a result, during these 16 days of activism against sexual and gender-based violence, let’s remember the victims and support the survivors in their access to appropriate remedies.
We must work towards complete societal change, rendering the use of SGBV unacceptable and ensuring a future where a 16-day campaign against violence targeting women and girls is no longer needed.
Listen to the first part of a two part series podcast on this important topic!
Featured Picture: Jason Leung