Pointing the finger at domestic violence

|

This page in:

A new feminist anthem on violence against women is taking the streets of cities on every continent. For many women, the finger points at the person they should trust the most. Crying “the state doesn’t support me, it’s my sisters that do,” they have appealed directly to their governments to do more to confront this epidemic. Their strength in numbers makes the call for change impossible to ignore. 

It might surprise you that women still have to protest domestic violence in 2020. But did you know that it’s been just 40 years since the first law on domestic violence was passed? For a long time, family and domestic relations were considered a private matter, something that shouldn’t be subject to external regulation. However, as the feminist movement gained momentum, and more women spoke out about their experiences, many countries took action. 

With five decades of data, the Women, Business and the Law project tracks the global progress in enactment of domestic violence legislation over time. Beginning with Ireland in 1981 and peaking during the second half of the 1990s and 2000s, there are now 155 countries worldwide that have such legislation. Over the past two years, eight countries adopted laws on domestic violence for the first time: Armenia, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Eswatini, Liberia, Morocco, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates. Armenia reformed after the European Union conditioned budgetary support on the adoption of a domestic violence law. In Tunisia, the passage of the violence against women law was a victory for women’s rights groups that had been fighting for legal protection since the 1970s.

Though more than 80% of countries provide such legal protection, the numbers are still startling. It has been estimated that 35% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime by an intimate partner. Every day, 137 women across the world are murdered by a member of their own family. Women suffering domestic violence are at higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Their daughters are more likely to be abused by their partners, and their sons more likely to become abusers themselves.

Preventing and addressing violence is not only fundamental for women’s safety, but it’s also key to economic growth. The negative impact of domestic violence on women’s physical and mental health has repercussions on their performance in the workforce, on firm productivity, and ultimately on a country’s economic development. Not to mention the costs borne by women and their countries due to expenditures on health care and legal, housing, and social services. In fact, the economic cost of domestic violence has been estimated to correspond to about $4.4 trillion, or 5.2%, of global GDP.

Beyond legislation, international evidence shows the effectiveness of protection orders and the availability of shelters in the reduction of gender-based violence. A multisectoral approach to prevention interventions covering different risk factors – social norms, childhood violence, alcoholism, etc. – has also shown positive results. The IMAGE Program in South Africa, for example, combined microfinance training with sessions addressing gender norms, cultural beliefs, and intimate partner violence. The outcome was a positive impact on poverty, gender-based violence, women’s empowerment, and HIV rates.

Women, Business and the Law offers a measure of legal gender equality in the fundamental areas that affect women’s economic opportunity, including their protection from violence. Legislation is the foundational first step toward meaningful implementation and the adoption of additional protection measures and services. Today, 35 countries in every region of the world still lack legislation aimed at protecting women from violence. The data and the facts are loud and clear. Are states going to listen?

Authors

Isabel Santagostino Recavarren

Private Sector Development Specialist

Nisha Arekapudi

Private Sector Specialist; Women, Business and the Law

Join the Conversation

Mari Yamazaki
September 09, 2021

Thank you for your wonderful article.
Here in Japan, the several laws protecting womens’s rights are ratified around 2000. But in fact it is still weak to work effective.

Even though, Japan have DV against law and sexual harassment law, in reality men support or protected do sexual harassment and sexual assault in socially.

Director hung a poster which cabin attendant are smiling on the wall of open office in the company.
Young women who start work after graduated, tend to be asked for group party organized by men who are working same department of her. In the party “nomikai” in Japanese, women have the pressure to pour the alcohol to the each glasses as it is proper member. When she pour, the other return to pour to her glass as reply and she is insisted to drink it all at once. After she getting drank, sexual assault is easy to happen by her colleague. But in Japan who will report the violence to the police is very rare.

As Shiori Ito’s court case for rape also, she hardly got win after she received thousand of unreasonable bashing. It cause because she raped after she got drank. Many people support the idea that drank means “yes” for sex. Even she was dragged.

Mari Yamazaki
March 02, 2020

Thank you for your wonderful article.
Here in Japan, the several laws protecting womens’s rights are ratified around 2000. But in fact it is still weak to work effective.

Even though, Japan have DV against law and sexual harassment law, in reality men support or protected do sexual harassment and sexual assault in socially.

Director hung a poster which cabin attendant are smiling on the wall of open office in the company.
Young women who start work after graduated, tend to be asked for group party organized by men who are working same department of her. In the party “nomikai” in Japanese, women have the pressure to pour the alcohol to the each glasses as it is proper member. When she pour, the other return to pour to her glass as reply and she is insisted to drink it all at once. After she getting drank, sexual assault is easy to happen by her colleague. But in Japan who will report the violence to the police is very rare.

As Shiori Ito’s court case for rape also, she hardly got win after she received thousand of unreasonable bashing. It cause because she raped after she got drank. Many people support the idea that drank means “yes” for sex. Even she was dragged.

SHAKIRA EJAZ
September 09, 2021

I have read and heard alot about gender disparities and domestic violence. I have many observations of my own society in this issue. but to my point of view through legislations it can not be controlled until a right way of social culture is being adapted. It is not the man who torture but there is always another women that create violence. so the very first thing that should be adapted to stop this violance is to restructure oue social norms and no man is allowed to get marry until he provide a separate home for his new partner. I am quite sure it will change the whole society. and look at the data of countries where such practices prevail. tgere is seldom cases of domestic violance

SHAKIRA EJAZ
March 02, 2020

I have read and heard alot about gender disparities and domestic violence. I have many observations of my own society in this issue. but to my point of view through legislations it can not be controlled until a right way of social culture is being adapted. It is not the man who torture but there is always another women that create violence. so the very first thing that should be adapted to stop this violance is to restructure oue social norms and no man is allowed to get marry until he provide a separate home for his new partner. I am quite sure it will change the whole society. and look at the data of countries where such practices prevail. tgere is seldom cases of domestic violance

Sherrie Winstanley
March 02, 2020

Such valuable work you two are doing to both uncover the truth of what women from around the world still must contend for in regard to intimate partner violence and/or family violence and the barriers they face in accessing legal and societal help to get free from domestic abuse. I have begun a second stage housing initiative in Winnipeg, Manitoba CANADA to support immigrant and refugee women and their children who have been impacted by domestic violence. Check us out @ www.shadewinnipeg.org