Close the Gap: How to eliminate violence against women beyond 2015

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At least one in three women worldwide will experience some form of violence during their lifetime, often perpetrated by an intimate partner. Violence against women and girls is a fundamental human rights issue and a central challenge to development, democracy and peace. Oxfam is very concerned that efforts to eliminate violence against women do not match the scale of the problem. In fact, while the need to end violence against women is broadly recognized, levels of violence worldwide point towards a huge gap between rhetoric and action. The international community is failing women on this issue and will continue to fail if we do not step up our efforts. As governments, decision makers and civil society embark on a review of the Beijing Platform for Action and consider a framework to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),
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  OXFAM BRIEFING NOTE 11 MARCH 2014 www.oxfam.org Patricia sweeping the yard, Uganda (2009).(c) Heather McClintock. CLOSE THE GAP HOW TO ELIMINATE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN BEYOND 2015 At least  one in three women worldwide will experience physical or sexual violence  in their lifetime , often perpetrated by an intimate partner. Violence against women and girls is a fundamental human rights issue and a central challenge to development, democracy and peace. Oxfam is concerned that efforts to eliminate violence against women do not match the scale of the problem. More needs to be done to tackle VAW within and beyond the future post 2015 development agenda.  2 1 INTRODUCTION: VIOLENCE  AGAINST WOMEN Violence against women (VAW) is the most widespread and persistent violation of human rights. According to a 2013 study from the World Health Organization (WHO) ,   at least one in three women worldwide (35 per cent)   will experience physical and/or sexual violence during their lifetime , usually at the hands of someone they know . 1  This means more than one billion women   worldwide are affected by VAW.   The WHO data found that an average of 25.5 per cent of women in Europe will be affected by violence and an average of 37.7 per cent of women in South East Asia will experience violence. 2   Violence against women isdefined by the United Nations (UN) as: ‘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.’  3  Around the world VAW has devastating long-term effects, not only on women, but on their families and society in general. Here are some of facts about VAW: ã The home is often the most dangerous place for women and manylive in daily fear of violence usually perpetrated by an intimate.Intimate partner violence is the most common form of VAW andincludes violence in married relationships as well as violence inunmarried, sexual relationships. 4 ã Violence affects women at all stages of their lives, from sonpreference, female infanticide and dating violence, to child marriage,domestic and sexual violence, Female Genital Mutilation (FMG) andwidow-related violence. 5 ã In a multi-country study conducted by the WHO in 2005 up to 70 per cent of women aged 19-47 reported experiencing some form of violence. 6 ã Domestic violence is now outlawed in 125 countries, but 603 millionwomen still live in countries where domestic violence is notconsidered a crime. 7 ã The systematic use of sexual violence is now a defining anddeliberate tactic of war. ã Women who have experienced violence are up to three times morelikely to be living with HIV. 8 ã It is estimated that more than 130 million girls and women alive todayhave undergone FGM, with two million girls a year at risk of mutilation. 9 ã Every year 60 million girls are sexually assaulted either at or going toand from school. 10  3  As these facts show, VAW is wide-spread, persistent and global. The elimination of VAW is essential not only for realizing women’s rights and gender justice, but for equitable social development. Under international law, states are required to exercise due diligence in confronting violence against women and girls (VAWG) wherever it occurs. The large-scale persistence of all forms of VAW and the continuing impunity of its perpetrators shows that the international community is failing women and girls on this issue. In fact, the scourge of violence points to a huge global gender gap. There is an urgent need for political action to close this gap. This can be done through developing comprehensive, co-ordinated and multi-stakeholder interventions aimed at policy implementation. The post-2015 development agenda provides an opportunity to take a much needed first step towards tackling VAW. Oxfam has called for a stand-alone gender equality goal accompanied by a specific target to eliminate VAW. In order to fully eliminate violence beyond 2015, Oxfam has proposed a Comprehensive International Action Plan. Oxfam believes such a plan could provide a due diligence blueprint for comprehensive and co-ordinated action by states to eliminate VAW. An international plan of action would also present a much needed roadmap for taking forward interventions by operationalizing them and establishing urgently needed monitoring mechanisms, such as timelines and targets to track progress in this area.  4 2 VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN  AS A GATEWAY ISSUE: REPERCUSSIONS ON DEVELOPMENT Women living in poor countries or societies with a high level of inequality between women and men lack control over their lives. Poverty and women's unequal status in society are shaped by different forms of discrimination against women, including violence. In its 2012 World Development Report, the World Bank identified VAW as a key issue that holds back societies from full development and growth for all, and gender equality for women. 11  Poverty and inequality reinforce patterns of violence. In turn, violence keeps women and girls trapped in poverty and marginalization. It limits women’s choices and their ability to access education, earn a living and participate in political and public life. It also robs women of control over their own bodies and sexuality, as well as being a major cause of ill-health, disability and death. The everyday consequences that result from violence against women and girls undermine development efforts and the building of strong democracies and just, peaceful societies. Addressing the many and complex root causes is a fundamental prerequisite for the empowerment of women and girls, the building of democracies, sustainable economies, development and peace. 12  Unequal gendered power relations manifested in discriminatory laws, norms, standards and practices have been identified as one set of root causes for violence, poverty and inequality, and must be addressed to end the scourge of VAW. In everyday life, these factors are key to understanding the stereotypical attitudes and beliefs about gender roles and identities through which violence is perpetuated. For example, in South  Asia men admitted to raping their intimate partners, often their spouses, because they felt it was their right to have sex without the consent of women. 13  The belief in women’s subordination is also linked to impunity for men using VAW. 14  Violence at the household level has an enormous impact on the level of acceptance of violence and its reproduction from generation to generations. 15  Together with a lack of formal gender equality it makes VAW acceptable. 16   VAW not only reinforces inequality and poverty, but it also comes at a huge financial cost. In the EU alone, where one in four women experiences violence in her lifetime, the annual cost of this violence was estimated at  €228 bn ($400bn) in 2011. This includes  €24 bn ($40bn) of lost economic output and  €45 bn ($60bn) in costs incurred to public services. 17  A study in Uganda estimated costs at the household level of $5 per incidence of violence. 18  While this might seem small, many poor households live on no more than $ 2 a day or less. In Egypt, the women’s rights organization Karama together with the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement estimated the costs of VAW at more than 785 million Egyptian Pounds (more than $112m) per annum. 19  
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