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domestic violence

Stronger laws can help protect women from domestic violence

Paula Tavares's picture

Would it surprise you to know that one in three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence from their intimate partner? Or that as many as 38% of women who are murdered globally are killed by their partners? It is a sad reality, but those are the facts.

Globally, the most common form of violence against women is from an intimate partner. The statistics are shocking. And while these numbers are widely disseminated, the facts persist. The stories repeat themselves, affecting girls and women around the world regardless of race, nationality, social status or income level.

This sad reality was the cause of Nahr Ibrahim Valley’s death in Lebanon, just months after the country's new law on domestic violence was finally passed. The new law came after several cases sparked campaigns and protests in the Lebanese capital surrounding International Women’s Day last year. Unfortunately, it was not enough to save her life, but it can be the hope for thousands of women in the country, who previously had no legal protection against this type of crime.

The World Bank Group’s Women, Business and the Law project studies where countries have enacted laws protecting women from domestic violence. The fourth report in the series, Women, Business and the Law 2016: Getting to Equal, finds that more than 1 out of 4 countries covered around the world have not yet adopted such legislation. The effects of this form of violence are multifold. It can lead to lower productivity, increase absenteeism and drive up health-care costs. Moreover, where laws do not protect women from domestic violence, women are likely to have shorter life spans. 

Domestic violence, also viewed as gender-specific violence, commonly directed against women, which occurs in the family and in interpersonal relationships, can take different forms. Abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual or economic. The 2016 edition of Women, Business and the Law shows that, even where laws do exist, in only 3 out of 5 economies do they cover all four of those types of violence. Subjecting women to economic violence, which can keep them financially dependent, is only addressed in about half of the economies covered worldwide.

Discriminating against women keeps countries poorer

Sri Mulyani Indrawati's picture
© Stephan Bachenheimer/World Bank

In 100 countries around the world, women are barred from doing certain work solely because they are women. More than 150 countries have at least one law that is discriminatory towards women. And only 18 countries are free of any law disadvantaging women.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of legal barriers for women to achieve their full economic potential. New World Bank Group research in the Women, Business and the Law 2016 report shows that in 32 countries women cannot apply for passports in the same way as men and in 18 countries they cannot get a job if their husbands feel it is not in the family’s interest. Jordan and Iran are among them. In 59 countries, there are no laws against sexual harassment at work. Myanmar, Uzbekistan and Armenia are among 46 countries where there is no legal protection against domestic violence. In a nutshell, the research makes for depressing reading when you care about inclusion and ending poverty. 

Campaign Art: Why won't you slap her?

Roxanne Bauer's picture
People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.

What happens when you ask a boy to slap a girl? In a social experiment that highlights the subject of violence against women and demonstrates that violence is a learned behavior, Italian children react to being asked just that.

In the experiment, Italian video journalist Luca Lavarone introduced a few boys, aged 7-11, to Martina, a young girl who has a giggly, adoring effect on all them. When asked to caress her or make a funny face for her, the boys do not hesitate.

However, when asked to slap her, they all look surprised and confused. The boys seem to search for a reason and give side-ways glances that reveal their bewilderment. They all eventually refuse to slap her. One boy answers, “Girls shouldn’t be hit, not even with a flower. Or a bouquet of flowers,” and another asserts that he is, "against violence." 

VIDEO: “Slap her": children's reactions

Weekly Wire: The Global Forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Facebook Reaches a Landmark 100-Million Users in Africa Through Mobile
Thanks to mobile connectivity, half of Africa's 200-million internet users were accessing Facebook on a monthly basis in June 2014, indicating that the social media giant's efforts at penetrating emerging market are paying off. There's explosive growth and incredible momentum across Africa. "We now have 100-million people coming to Facebook every month across the African continent with more than 80% using mobile devices," says Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

UNICEF's Hidden in Plain Sight report details child homicides, domestic violence in 190 countries
Radio Australia
One in five homicide victims worldwide are children, a report by UN children's agency UNICEF has revealed. The Hidden in Plain Sight report analyses data from 190 countries and lists alarming statistics on child homicides, domestic violence and rape. The report found violence against children was most common in the home and with caregivers.  UNICEF spokesman for Eastern and Southern Africa, James Elder, said the report may not even capture the full extent of the problem.   "Violence is a very difficult thing often to detect, it goes grossly unreported, so one of the terrifying things from this report is knowing that in fact the numbers would be lower than the reality," he said.

3 Blind Spots for Gender Equity: Work, Education, and Violence

Jim Yong Kim's picture

Woman in Nepal

As we mark International Women’s Day, women and girls are better off than just a few decades ago. Boys and girls are going to school in equal numbers in many countries. Women are living longer, healthier lives.

But even with the steady progress we’ve seen over the past few decades, one of our biggest challenges today is to avoid falling prey to a sense of self-satisfaction.  We don’t deserve to, not yet. 

We need a renewed sense of urgency and a clearer understanding of the remaining obstacles.   When it comes to improving the lives of women and girls, we have blind spots.  In fact, we know of three shocking inequalities that persist in education, the working world, and women’s very security and safety.

Blind Spot No. 1: Education of Girls.

We have made impressive gains in achieving universal access to education, but what we’re failing to see is that girls who are poor—those who are the most vulnerable—are getting left behind.  

While wealthier girls in countries like India and Pakistan may be enrolled in school right alongside boys their age, among the poorest 20 percent of children, girls have on average five years less education than do boys.  In Niger, where only one in two girls attends primary school, just one in 10 goes to middle school, and stunningly only one in 50 goes to high school. That’s an outrage.

Apps against domestic violence: 21st-century solutions to an old problem

Hasan Tuluy's picture

También disponible en español

There is a statistic that both astonishes and troubles me: the leading cause of injury to women is not traffic accidents, crime or serious disease. It is domestic violence.

One in four women will fall victim to this type of violence in her lifetime. In other words, a quarter of the female population, a shocking figure that reminds us that these are not anonymous women, but rather acquaintances, colleagues, neighbors, people we run into on the subway every day. 

The evil of flowers: women’s work and domestic violence in Ethiopia

Markus Goldstein's picture

After talking about domestic violence measurement and the need for some kind of model when you think about things like domestic violence with Toan last week, this week I look at a new paper from Jonas Hort and Espen Villanger which both asks the question carefully and definitely makes me think hard about what the ri

The silent global epidemic: domestic violence against women

Miriam Sabzevari's picture

A glance at the world’s news headlines will tell you all about today’s military wars, terrorist attacks, and territorial disputes. But there is an oft forgotten war occurring everywhere in the world and at all times; the war in our homes.

To paraphrase a worker at Vancouver’s Rape Relief & Women's Shelter: no country in the world, developed or developing, is exempt from the otherwise ordinary men who beat their wives or lovers.