“Gender violence” is a general term used to capture any violence that occurs which often shows structural gender inequalities, and includes all types of violence against men, women, children, adolescents, gay, transgender and gender non-conforming. It is extremely important to recognise that gender violence is a problem as a whole to everyone, and not just a women’s problem. A relevant quote found in the Telegraph states “domestic violence doesn’t discriminate, why should we?” The Declaration of the Elimination of Violence Against Women (DEVAW) specifies that violence against women in particular is a manifestation of unequal power relationships between men and women and a violation of women’s human rights. But this can also be used in relation to violence towards any other person, making it a violation of basic human rights.
This violence is often motivated by aggression, revenge, competition and entitlement, and includes sexual and other violence. The impact of gender violence can be catastrophic, there are physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health effects that have all been linked to domestic violence. It has also been suggested that victims of domestic abuse are also at higher risk for developing addictions to alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
Every minute police in the UK alone receive a domestic assistance call – yet only 35% of domestic violence incidents are reported to the police. Across the water in the US, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused due to domestic violence, which equates to more than 10 million women and men every year. It is very difficult to find reliable statistics as many abuse/violence cases are never reported, whether it be from shame, blackmail or any other reason. Meaning many statistics are estimates, are drawn from the numbers collected and do not portray an accurate number of cases in both a national and international scale.
Probably the most known statistic in relation to domestic abuse states 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men are affected in their lifetimes, however this is fundamentally flawed. This is because it does not take into account the relationship between the attacker and victim, but also the gender of the perpetrator. For example, this abuse may be between father and son, or sisters, but will still be classed as domestic violence. Which is why this term is out dated and for many, when they hear the phrase “domestic violence” they immediately think of an intimate partner. Therefore, it is important to move away from this term and refer to this abuse as gender violence as it represents violence towards any person from any person as a result of entitlement and inequality.
Many countries have set up services to make it easier for victims to reach out and call for help. For example, anonymous call centres, help groups and police lines to be there 24/7 for anyone who requires the service. One of the main issues of these ‘mainstream’ services for domestic violence is that they do not always recognise domestic violence in same sex relationships and are rarely experienced in dealing with its specific aspects. So, although there are people and organisations there to help the victims of gender violence it is difficult for some to get the help they need.
To tackle this obstacle, the ‘Responses to violence in everyday life in democratic society’ was instigated by the Council of Europe in 2002. Its first principle is an integrated approach within national prevention policy and its implementation at every level. More specifically, those responsible for preventing and reducing violence should work in partnership in order to bring together resources and share responsibility. Which means that on a deeper level more effort should be made in working together to help victims and prevent incidents. To support this, in the 7th European Conference of Ministers Responsible for youth it was said that: “in order to prevent gender-related violence, notably against children and young people, homophobic violence and the sexual exploitation of children and young people, governments should include a priority focus on gender equality, sexuality and power in their youth policy agendas.”