Saturday, 25 November 2017

Violence Against Women 2017

by Parveen Ali

Violence against women (VAW) is a reality that affects the lives of millions of girls and women in various countries around the world. It affects women in every sphere of life and intersects culture, religion, social class, income or educational background. VAW is defined as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life’ (General Assembly Resolution 48/104 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, 1993). It happens in public as well as private space and can take the form of physical, psychological and sexual abuse. It affects girls and women of all ages, in the form of female infanticide, female genital mutilation, child marriage, grooming, trafficking, forced marriage, honour killing, domestic violence and intimate partner violence.

General awareness of gender-based violence (GBV) and VAW has increased over time due to the continuous efforts of practitioners, activists, researchers and health and social care professionals. Much has been done to develop and improve laws and their enforcements, though a lot more still needs to be done.

One of the important rights of any individual is the right to education. VAW can occur in the sphere of education and can affect girls’ and women’s (and sometimes men’s) ability to pursue education that can help them develop their personal and professional potential. 25 November is celebrated as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and 10 December is celebrated as Human Rights Day. A campaign called ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence’ is an annual event that connects these two important dates and reminds us that violence against women as a human rights issue. The campaign was originated by the first Women's Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and is coordinated by the Centre for Women's Global Leadership in Rutgers, New Jersey, USA. However, this is now an annual event in which practitioners, professionals, academics, researchers and students from many parts of the world come together to demand the elimination of every form of gender-based violence.

Other important dates that take place during the 16 Days Campaign are International Women’s Rights Defenders Day on 29 November, World AIDS Day on 1 December, and the Anniversary of the massacre at École Polytechnique in Montreal, Canada, when 28 people, including 14 women, were murdered by an attacker who claimed he was "fighting feminism" and called his female victims "a bunch of feminists" whom he blamed for ruining his life. For this year, the United Nations’ theme for the 16 days campaign is Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women and Girls. Another theme for this year is ‘Together We Can End GBV in Education’.

Nurses and midwives and other healthcare professionals are an important part of healthcare system and can contribute immensely in identification, recognition and prevention of gender-based violence. To be able to perform their role effectively, they need to be confident and competent in their ability to explore the ways in which they can help to minimize gender-based violence and its impact on individuals and families.

Building on our efforts to raise understanding of the issue and to contribute to the body of knowledge, to highlight role of nurses and healthcare professionals and to play our part in ‘16 days of activism’, JAN has decided to run a series of JAN interactive entries from 25 November - 10 December 2017, in addition to the launch of a special issue of JAN on violence against women. I am privileged to contribute to this activity. During the 16 days, through a series of blog posts, we will explore various issues related to VAW. Expert healthcare professionals, researchers and academics from various disciplines and settings will share their views about aspects of VAW. We will explore diverse issues in relation to gender-based violence, intimate partner violence, its aspects (physical, sexual, psychological) and its impact. We will look at the issue of sexual and street violence and its impact on individuals, families and communities. I look forward to the coming 16 days and hope that my colleagues will be able to contribute to these activities by sharing their views. Please read and comment on the blogs and share these widely to your colleagues.

Parveen Ali
University of Sheffield
Editorial Board member, JAN

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