What is Violence Against Women?
Violence against women and girls is one of the most systematic and widespread human rights violations. It is rooted in gendered social structures rather than individual and random acts; it cuts across age, socio-economic, educational, and geographic boundaries; affects all societies, and is a major obstacle to ending gender inequality and discrimination globally.
The United Nations defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”
The terms ‘gender-based violence’ and ‘violence against women’ are frequently used interchangeably in literature and by advocates, however, the term gender-based violence refers to violence directed against a person because of his or her gender and expectations of his or her role in a society or culture.
Gender-based violence highlights the gender dimension of these types of acts; in other words, the relationship between females’ subordinate status in society and their increased vulnerability to violence. It is important to note, however, that men and boys may also be victims of gender-based violence, especially sexual violence. Women and girls face violence at home, in school, on the street, at work, on public transportation and online.
They experience violence in times of peace and times of conflict or war. The risk is intersectional, meaning that some women and girls face a heightened risk of experiencing physical or sexual violence, including those married before age 18, living in conflict and fragility, with low levels of education or who are sexual and gender minorities.