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VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS LINKED TO STRUCTURAL INEQUALITIES

Approximately one third of women have experienced gender-based violence since the age of 15. Gender-based violence is defined as the “violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately”. This phenomenon is Europe-wide and is self-evidently trans-cultural as well as trans-racial. Economic or financial status is of little, if any, relevance, much less so-called ‘class’. Academics and special interest groups argue that violence against women and girls ‘is linked to structural inequalities between genders in many aspects of life’. What does this mean? Turned on its head, it means that women will continue to suffer domestic violence so long as there is financial, educational, political and societal inequality, which favours men. This is known as male hegemony.

Gender-based violence constitutes a breach of human rights. Most countries address domestic violence through so-called ‘hard-law’ or ‘soft-law’ instruments. However the legal framework is notoriously slow in effecting changes of attitude. Actions may be legally endorsed or legally outlawed, but the prevailing counter-attitudes may subsist for years, if not decades to follow. A good example of this is the attitude towards women clergy and same-sex marriages.

The law and policing strategies such as ‘zero-tolerance’ policies obviously have their place but it is the educational initiatives which are likely to have the most lasting impact. Again this can be seen from the much lower repeat-offending of perpetrators who have been on domestic violence perpetrator courses, or some form of psychological intervention.

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