From “He for She” to “She for We”
By admin November 27, 2018

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25 November is universally recognized as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Thousands of people took to the streets of countries around the globe, media coverages more or less shifted their attention to gender-based violence cases, a bunch of panels and seminars were held to echo the major appeals of the general public. This year, the United Nations (UN) marked the day by launching a 16-day campaign with the title “Orange the World: #HearMeToo”, an extension of the “Unite to End Violence against Women” annual initiative that was launched in 2008.

The violence against women can occur in both public and private spheres of life and at any time of their lifespan. Research published by the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) found that of the approximately 87,000 women and girls intentionally killed in 2017, about 58 percent died at the hands of someone who was either an “intimate partner” or a relative. Sexual harassment in schools and workplaces is hard to monitor but it could be as severe as violence at home. In fact, the scope of violence is much more encompassing than the common belief. Forced marriage, war rape during military conflict, honor killings, mob violence, and even dating abuse all fall into the category but are catching less attention because of their complexity and underrepresentation of the victims in public discussion.

It is universally acknowledged that targeted criminal justice responses are needed to prevent and end gender-related violence. However, years of efforts including adopting legal changes, early interventions, and multilateral efforts, and creating special units and implementing training in the corrections have not reversed the trend. It is time to ask: What are the very reasons that filibuster the process of bringing more profound positive effects?

First of all, the origin of violence against women is the prevalence of gender inequality in all aspects of society, which is always historically “decided” and highly connected with cultural and religious issues. Under many circumstances, the victims are even blamed by their parents and netizens for being “scantily clad”. Thus, to eradicate the phenomenon requires the renovation of the fundamentals of a society, a process that takes time as long as how these norms formed. Secondly, campaigns like #MeToo were at times under attack even by women themselves, because of its tendency of excluding men from the dialogue and generalization of men as the “dominant” or “perpetrator.” Moreover, these campaigns remain vulnerable as the majority of policymakers and lawmakers are still men. Being “politically right” is a requisite for them but sometimes not a value that they deeply believe in. In terms of legislation, many countries have not clarified the boundary of marital rape and normal sexual behaviors, nor have they established enough reliable channels for women to report their experience without fearing of losing their jobs or any forms of rehabilitation.

To move forward, investments in education are necessary. This is the most effective method to build social consensus, empower the vulnerable group, and involve men and boys in the dialogue. For instance, UN Women supports Partners for Prevention (P4P), a regional UN joint programme for Asia and the Pacific that provides new knowledge and technical support to prevent gender-based violence in the region. The feature of the Programme is its dedication to working through behavior and attitudinal change among boys and men. Movements relying on social media have the nature of going viral and should be leveraged in more areas, while activists and participants should keep in mind is that this is only available to women who have access to the internet and the relative luxury of backing from family, co-workers, and civil society. Reform of electoral systems (e.g adopting the proportional system) is also helpful since it will improve the representation of women in major issues and reshape the existing power structure.


Read More:

The most dangerous place for a woman? Her home, UN study shows

On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

What #MeToo has meant around the world

Focusing on prevention to stop the violence

Marching to End Violence Against Women

Violence Against Women


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