Violence against women is a common trend that is widespread in many parts of the world today. Many women have lost their lives and have been affected in diverse ways by this endemic. Although in recent years the fight against violence against women and girls have chalked some successes, it is still common.
According to the UN General Assembly, violence against women is “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.” (https://www.un.org/en/events/endviolenceday/)
Violence against women and girls takes many different forms. It includes domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, child, early and forced marriages, sex trafficking, honour crimes and female genital mutilation.
Most of these crimes go undetected because victims are afraid to report; are backed by societal norms; are silenced by communities leaders who interfere in such issues prevailing on victims not to report. Sadly, the effect of these crimes on victims is often long-lasting and damaging.
In eliminating these crimes, society must create an enabling environment which encourages victims to report such issues. Encouraging victims to report will deter perpetrators from carrying out such hideous crimes because then, their chances of being exposed or getting caught becomes high.
In addition, we must end victim-blaming and shaming. Instead of shaming and blaming victims for allowing such crimes to happen to them, we should rather encourage them to report perpetrators. Victim blaming only emboldens’ criminals to continue in their ways because they know society will always blame the victim.
Furthermore, we must also educate societies who engage in these crimes as entrenched cultural practices. In some societies, some of these crimes are deemed as long-held generational cultural practices that have been pass down. Therefore, this makes it hard to eliminate it or report. It is important that they understand how dangerous these practices are.
Institute stiffer punishment to deter others from engaging in such crimes. State apparatus must come up with stiffer laws that will prevent others from engaging in such crimes.
Violence against women continues to be an obstacle to achieving equality, development, peace as well as to the fulfilment of women and girls’ human rights. As we mark the international day for the elimination of violence against women and girls, everyone is encouraged to join in the fight to help eliminate crimes against women and girls. The elimination of such crimes solely depends on our effort to fight against it.