Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Violence Against Women: a universal phenomenon

by Noema Chaplin

Half of humankind lives under the threat of violence, regardless of income, age, class, race, culture or ethnicity. Violence causes untold misery, harms families across generations and impoverishes communities...

It stops women from fulfilling their potential, restricts economic growth and undermines development. Efforts should be made to reach a consensus and set universal standards of behaviour through the elaboration of human rights in order to protect human life and dignity in our fast changing world

Violence is an extremely diffuse and complex phenomenon with biological, psychological, social and environmental roots, defined by the World Health Organization as “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation."

The human cost is grief and pain, which, of course, can’t be calculated. The impact of violence: lives lost and health harmed. Many victims are too weak, scared or young to protect themselves. Much violence occurs out of sight, in homes, workplaces and even in medical and social institutions. Many acts of violence are never recorded because they do not come to the attention of authorities. Pretty often women became homeless or impoverished as the result of violence. It’s against human security and dignity.

A wide range of public health researchers in the United States and around the world have set themselves the task of understanding violence and finding ways to prevent it. Many different sectors and agencies should be involved in prevention activities and evaluation should be an integral part of all programs. Agencies should:

- Create, implement and monitor a national action plan for violence prevention;
- Enhance capacity for collecting data of violence;
- Increase collaboration and exchange of information on prevention, etc.

It is time to take these efforts to the next level. Members States can do more to implement the legal and policy frameworks to which they have committed themselves. All of us must form strong and effective partnerships with civil society, which has such a crucial role to play on this issue at every level. Together, we must work to create an environment where violence against
women is not tolerated. Let all of us -- men and women alike -- join forces in this mission.

Noema Chaplin
Board Member CCC/UN (Coordination Communication Committee)
Member of the Planning Committee of 57th, 58th, 59th DPI/NGO conference, New York
e-mail: noemachaplin[at]

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At 25 November 2008 at 21:52 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a fantastic article!

Violence against women and girls continues unabated in every continent, country and culture. It takes a devastating toll on women’s lives, on their families, and on society as a whole.
— UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, 8 March 2007

Violence against women and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions. At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime — with the abuser usually someone known to her [1].
Statistics paint a horrifying picture of the social and health consequences of violence against women. For women aged 15 to 44 years, violence is a major cause of death and disability [2]. In a 1994 study based on World Bank data about ten selected risk factors facing women in this age group, rape and domestic violence rated higher than cancer, motor vehicle accidents, war and malaria [3]. Moreover, several studies have revealed increasing links between violence against women and HIV/AIDS. Women who have experienced violence are at a higher risk of HIV infection: a survey among 1,366 South African women showed that women who were beaten by their partners were 48 percent more likely to be infected with HIV than those who were not [4].

The economic cost of violence against women is considerable — a 2003 report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the costs of intimate partner violence in the United States alone exceed US$5.8 billion per year: US$4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly US$1.8 billion [5]. Violence against women impoverishes individuals, families and communities, reducing the economic development of each nation [6].



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