#Article (Archive)

End gender-based violence now

Nov 23, 2010, 10:44 AM

Gender-based violence or Violence Against Women (VAW) is a major public health and human rights problem throughout the world.

The World Health Organization's World Report on Violence and Health notes that "one of the most common forms of VAW is that performed by a husband or male partner".

This type of violence is frequently invisible since it happens behind closed doors.

Moreover, legal systems and cultural norms often do not treat it as a crime, but rather as a "private" family matter or a normal part of life.

In this regard, we recognise the efforts of the Network on Gender-Based Violence in The Gambia in organising a three-day capacity building workshop for some thirty participants, including the police, social workers and nurses.

Our commendation goes to the Finnish Development Fund in Finland for sponsoring the programme.

Meanwhile, according to UNFPA, around the world, as many as one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or abused in some other way - most often by someone she knows, including by her husband or another male family member; one woman in four has been abused during pregnancy

To us, this is a very serious situation, and any move to address the situation is highly welcome. Violence against women must stop now rather than later! It is sad that most people do not recognise VAW as a human rights abuse, which is what it is. Most domestic violence involves male anger directed against their women partners.

This gender difference appears to be rooted in the way boys and men are socialised - biological factors do not seem to account for the dramatic differences in behaviour in this regard between men and women.

Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to gender-based violence. Some husbands become more violent during the wife's pregnancy, even kicking or hitting their wives in the belly. These women run twice the risk of miscarriage and four times the risk of having a low birth-weight baby.