Combating Gender Violence
Combating Gender Violence. Male violence against women is a worldwide phenomenon. Every year, millions of women and girls worldwide suffer violence.
I am a teenage college student. Daily I read incidences of violence, rape or assault on young girls and women in newspapers. In recent times, it has become regular news and I feel fearful to go out. I feel insecure at home too. Why are males aggressive towards ladies and suggest ways to prevent such behaviour? - Ramya, Gudiwada.
Male violence against women is a worldwide phenomenon. Every year, millions of women and girls worldwide suffer violence. Women have to bear the burns of domestic, public, physical as well as emotional and mental violence against them, which affects their status in the society to a large extent. Women are subjected to violence attacks i.e. feticide, infanticide, medical neglect, child marriages, bride burning, sexual abuse of girl child, forced marriages, rapes, prostitution, sexual harassment at home as well as work places etc. In all the above cases a woman is considered as aggrieved person.
Population-based studies of relationship violence among young people suggest that this affects a substantial proportion of the youth population. For instance, in South Africa a study of people aged 13-23 years found that 42% of females reported being a victim of some form of sexual violence.
In recent years, there has been an alarming rise in atrocities against women in India. Every 26 minutes a woman is molested. Every 34 minutes a rape takes place. Every 42 minutes a sexual harassment incident occurs. Every 43 minutes a woman is kidnapped. And every 93 minutes a woman is burnt to death over dowry.
Causes of Gender-Based Violence
The psychologist Dr David Lisak who is an expert on violent crime, including murder and rape emphasised that the main reason for the violence towards the females could be power struggles and aggression in the men. He suggested that power, feeling of being able to dominate and control another human being and to force them to do whatever they want; can be a powerful motivator behind sexual aggression.
Another ingredient in that soup is anger. If someone who is seething with anger, may feel that — “I want something, and I am entitled to get what I want, and if you thwart me it really makes me angry.”
Thus, many studies have repeatedly proven that the power and anger are the primary motivations behind the sexual and other forms of violence.
If a culture provides a lot of messages like “If you’re a successful man, women will fall all over you,” men that grow up there may feel emasculated, or angry, when that doesn’t happen.
In our culture, where there are a lot of messages about the entitled role of men, can provide some very ready scripts for violence.
It is obvious that women are viewed as vulnerable and as legitimate targets for hatred and the exercise of power. A culture has to examine why that is and how it came to be and how it can be changed.
Financial insecurity is another cause for this type of violence.
Thus, psychologists have summarised the causes of violence against women as being deeply rooted in the way society is set up-cultural beliefs, power relations, economic power imbalances, and the masculine idea of male dominance.
MYTHS ABOUT SEXUAL ASSAULT
- Sex crimes are crimes of passion or desire.
- False: Every sex crime is a crime of violence, anger and power.
- Sexual offenders commit these crimes in order to get sex.
- False:Sex offenders get gratification from intimidating, humiliating and degrading their victims. Many sex offenders are married or already involved in relationships where they can freely engage in intimate relations.
- People provoke sexual assaults by dressing "sexy." Only certain types of people are sexually assaulted.
- False: People of all ages, professions and styles of dress have become victims of sexual assaults. Whether it is a five year old girl or an 85 year old lady has been raped by some offenders.
- It's easy to tell who is a sex offender.
- False: Sex offenders come from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds. A sex offender can be anyone: married, a friend, relative, acquaintance or stranger.
Effects of the Violence
The effects of gender-based violence can be devastating and long lasting. They pose danger to a woman’s reproductive health and can scar a survivor psychologically, cognitively and interpersonally.
Reports suggest that a child who has undergone or witnessed violence may become withdrawn, anxious or depressed on one hand; on the other hand, the child may become aggressive and exert control over younger siblings.
Women who have suffered any kind of violence have long-lasting physical (headache, back pain, etc.) and psychological symptoms (depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep difficulties, eating disorders, emotional distress and suicide attempts. But this kind of violence also affects the families and the friends of these women.
Ways to keep yourself safe from sexual assault
There are many ways that you can avoid sexual assault, and many ways that you can keep yourself and your dignity intact. All you need to do is to be prepared and vigilant, to never waver in your confidence, and to be aware of your surroundings without losing your zest for life.
- Avoid hanging out alone in any isolated location and walk where it is brightly lit.
- Be alert to your surroundings and trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable about a person or a location, leave immediately.
- Avoid putting music headphones in both ears so that you can be more aware of your surroundings, especially if you are walking alone.
- Know your sexual intentions and limits. You have the right to say no to any unwanted sexual activity, at any point. Communicate your limits firmly and directly. Don’t remain quiet because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.
- If you carry a self-defense weapon such as pepper spray, hair spray, or an umbrella, keep it in your hand ready to use. Attend some self—defense classes like Karate etc. and learn the skills.
- Don’t be afraid to make waves if you feel threatened. Loudly protest, leave, or go for help.
- Realise that 9 out of 10 rapes are committed by someone known to the victim.Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable or think you may be at risk, get out of the situation as soon as possible.
- Don’t drink anything outside like in parties unless you’re absolutely sure it has not been dosed. Date-rape drugs are everywhere very easy to mix at eye’s blink time.
- Call the police if you see or hear evidence of any violence.