We must nail the gender violence monster
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected people in both similar and dissimilar ways.
For instance, while the majority’s economic mainstay has been devastated, some groups are bearing the brunt of growing social and economic challenges and frustrations.
Although women and girls have perennially been vulnerable, the pandemic has exposed them even more, with statistics showing a spiral in various forms of violence against them.
Before the pandemic became a global phenomenon early this year, data showed that 243 million women and girls had been violated by their intimate partner the previous year.
According to a United Nations’ Women report, “The Shadow Pandemic: Violence Against Women During Covid-19,” 18 per cent of women and girls aged 15 to 49 who have ever been in a relationship have experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the previous 12 months.
Fact of life
Factors that have been cited as exacerbating the violence during the duration of the pandemic are security, money, health issues, congested residences, isolation with abusers, restriction of movement and deserted public spaces.
All these and other factors have disoriented people from their routine lifestyles, creating anxiety about both current and future survival.
But as the report notes, violence is a fact of life for many women during their lifetime be it at the family, community or broader society level.
In addition, the report notes that in the current ‘digital age,’ cyber-violence has become common, with data from Europe collected in 2015, revealing that one in 10 women over the age of 15, has experienced some form of violence, online.
It is an issue that will be highlighted on November 25, as the world marks the annual United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
This year’s theme is Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect! The use of the orange is a symbol of the colour’s versatility, combining the energy of red and the happiness of yellow, a symbol of strength and endurance.
The colour has also been used to represent women’s qualities of enthusiasm, happiness, creativity, success and encouragement.
In its annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence, that starts on November 25, gender activists seek to enlighten the society on curbing this practice.
Among other ways, the campaign lobbies for behaviour and culture change in the society, in order to make people more responsive to the needs of women.
There should be zero tolerance to vices like rape, while governments, organisations and institutions should give all women a platform to voice their experiences on violence.
Contrary to the popular belief, violence against women has no social or economic barriers.
Latest data shows that Covid-19, has led to an overall increase in the number of women reporting violence in countries as diverse as Tunisia and the United Kingdom.
Violence against women is a multi-faceted issue that requires equally multi-pronged approaches.
In some instances, though still inexcusable, the violence is caused by men who fall short of their financial expectations particularly in providing for their families.
This calls for more financial inclusivity to give people a certain basic income, that guards them against pecuniary embarrassment.
But on the other side of the spectrum are violent incidents of purely criminal minds. These usually end up in grave bodily harm or death of their victims.
Women need to be offered a refuge from partners that exhibit violent tendencies, during the early stages of a relationship.
Violence against women should not be a challenge in the 21st century when women have basically proved their worth in virtually all fields of human endeavour.
Since it beats logic why the vice still goes on, it can only mean that it is a diehard misogynistic culture that thrives on certain gender bias stronghold. — The writer is a communications expert and public policy analyst. [email protected]