Gender Violence: Definition, Types, Problems, Causes and Human Rights (2023)

What is gender-based violence?
Why is gender violence a problem?
Types of gender violence
Physical violence
verbal violence
psychological violence
sexual violence
socioeconomic violence
What causes gender violence?
cultural factors
legal factors
ECONOMIC factors
(Video) Inspiration: What is Gender Based Violence?
political factors
Gender Violence and Human Rights
United Nations instruments and actions
Instruments adopted by the Council of Europe
national action

Gender equality is a fundamental goal of any society based on human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Gender equality affects almost every aspect of social interaction and public order. However, discussgender violenceit can be difficult, as it involves concepts and terminologies that are not always clear, which can change over time and cross different disciplines such as psychology, sociology, culture, medicine, law, education, activism or politics. The conclusion is that gender-based violence is a violation of human rights and affects not only those directly affected, but society as a whole. Here we analyze what constitutes gender violence, what are its types and causes.

What is gender-based violence?

The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women definesviolence against womenwith:

Any act of gender-based violence that causes or is likely to cause physical, sexual or psychological damage or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether in public or private life..“

In recent legal documents, the term “gender violence against women". For example, the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) provides the following definition:

Gender-based violence is violence directed against a woman because she is a woman or that disproportionately affects her.“.

Definitions like these apply to cases whereGenderis the basis ofViolenceagainst a human. However, gender is more than beingmale or female: Someone can be born with female sex characteristics but identify as male, or identify as male and female at the same time, or sometimes identify as neither male nor female.

LGBT people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and others who do not fit the heterosexual norm or traditional binary gender categories) also experience violence because of their real or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity. For this reason, violence against such persons falls within the scope ofStatistics on gender violenceIn addition, men can also be subject to gender violence: according to the data, the number of cases of this type is much lower compared to women, but it should not be neglected.

Gender-based violence is based on an imbalance of power and is perpetrated with the intent to humiliate an individual or group of people and make them feel inferior and/or subservient. This type of violence is deeply rooted in social and cultural structures and norms. and values ​​that govern society and is often perpetuated by a culture of denial and silence. Gender-based violence can occur in both the public and private spheres and disproportionately affects women.

Why is gender violence a problem?

Gender violence is aviolation of human rightsIt is a relentless attack on human dignity that deprives people of their human rights. Non-violence is a basic human right and gender-based violence undermines a person's self-esteem and self-esteem. It's not just aboutPhysical health, but alsoMental healthand can lead to self-harm, isolation, depression and suicide attempts.

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Gender violence is imminentphysical and psychological integrityA person. Everyone has a right to feel safe and secure, and when this is not the case, people's ability to function in family, community and society is likely to be impaired, as well as self-fulfillment and development. .Gender-based violence is an obstacle to the realization of the well-being of each person and their right to fulfillment and personal development.

gender violence isdiscriminationIt is rooted in harmful stereotypes andprejudicesagainst women or others who don't fit into a traditional binary society. For this reason, gender-based violence can make women and others affected feel marginalized, inferior or powerless.

Gender-based violence has an exemplary corrective function in men who do not act in accordance with dominant male roles. Your own life may clash and seem to contradict the notion that there are natural behaviors and social roles. Usually for men and women.

It is also a barrier to gender equality.equivalenceIt is critical to protect human rights, uphold democracy and uphold the rule of law. Gender-based violence cultivates a heteronormative society and maintains male power. Gender equality, on the other hand, implies equal rights for people of all genders, as well as equal visibility and opportunities for empowerment, responsibility and participation in all spheres of public and private life. Gender equality also implies equal access and distribution of resources between women and men.

Finally, gender-based violence has very high economic costs. Requires involvement of multiple services (medical, psychological, police or judicial) and results in loss of resources or employmentvictims of gender violence.This causes people to perform poorly at work and in education and negatively impacts their productivity. Many people exposed to gender-based violence are unable to stay at home and need a place to live, which sometimes results in homelessness. For these people it is necessary to provide shelter.

Types of gender violence

Violence is often associated only with physical violence and ignores other non-physical forms. Violence is a complex issue and categorizing different types of violence can never be exact.

We distinguish five related types of violence.

Physical violence

Physical violence includes hitting, burning, kicking, hitting, biting, maiming or killing, or using any object or weapon.

It is an act intended to cause pain and/or physical harm. As with all forms of violence, the perpetrator's main objective is not only to cause physical pain, but also to limit self-control. determination of the other.

Such violence demonstrates differences in social power or may be aimed at promoting specific demands, sometimes regularly, through coercion.

verbal violence

Verbal violence can include things specific to an individual, such as: Threats of other forms of violence, either against the victim or a loved one.

At other times, verbal abuse may be relevant to the victim's background, such as: B. their religion, culture, language, sexual orientation or traditions. Depending on the victim's most emotionally sensitive areas, abusers often consciously focus on these issues in ways that are painful, humiliating, and threatening to the victim.

Verbal violence can be classified as hate speech. It can take many forms: words, videos, memes or images posted on social media, or it can contain a violent message that threatens a person or group of people for certain characteristics.

psychological violence

There are certain forms of violence that are produced by methods that cannot be classified in other categories and that, therefore, can be described as "pure" psychological violence. This includes isolation or confinement, withholding information, misinformation and threats. To behave.

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In the private sphere, psychological violence includes threatening behavior without physical violence or verbal elements, e.g. B. Actions relating to another person's previous acts of violence or willful ignorance and negligence.

sexual violence

Marital rape and attempted rape constitute sexual violence. Certain forms of sexual violence concern the victim's personal boundaries and are more typical of the private sphere. The abuser intentionally violates these boundaries: examples include rape, forcing certain types of sexual activity, withholding sexual attention as a form of punishment, or forcing others to view (and sometimes imitate) pornography.

There are three particular forms of public sexual violence worth highlighting: sexual harassment in the workplace, sexual violence as a weapon of war and torture, and sexual violence against LGBT+ people as a punishment for leaving. . prescribed gender roles.

socioeconomic violence

Global economic data clearly show that one of the consequences of globalization is the feminization of poverty (making women generally more economically vulnerable than men).

But even if the relationship is reversed and a woman in a relationship has higher economic status, the threat of violence is not necessarily eliminated: status conflicts and castration can arise in relationships that are already abusive.

Typical forms of socioeconomic violence include taking away a victim's income, denying her a separate income (granting her stay-at-home status or forcing her to work for free in a family business), or making her unable to work. directed work. for physical abuse.

Some public forms of socioeconomic gender violence contribute to women becoming economically dependent on their partners.

There are also two other categories of violence: domestic violence and sexual harassment, which can be a combination of the five types of violence above.

In reality, some or several forms of violence can be present at the same time, especially in abusive relationships. All forms can occur both in the private sphere (in families and intimate relationships) and in the public sphere, committed by (unknown) people in the public space or by organizations, institutions and States.

What causes gender violence?

The root of violence is the aggressor himself: it is very important to remember that a person who has been a victim of gender-based violence is never responsible for the aggressor's actions.

There is no single factor that can explain gender-based violence in our societies, but a myriad of factors contribute to it, and the interplay of these factors is at the root of the problem.Violenceremains a major social scourge.

cultural factors

Patriarchal and sexist viewsLegitimate violence to ensure male dominance and superiority. Other cultural factors include gender stereotypes and prejudices, normative expectations of femininity and masculinity, gender socialization, an understanding of the family sphere as private and under male authority, and a general acceptance of violence as part of the family sphere. and as an acceptable means of conflict resolution and self-assertion.

Religious and historical traditions have sanctioned the corporal punishment of women under the notion of women's rights and property. The concept of ownership, in turn, legitimizes control over female sexuality.

sexualityit is also associated with the concept of so-called family honor in many societies. The traditional norms of these societies permit the murder of women suspected of offending family honor by engaging in illicit sexual relations or by marrying and divorcing without family consent. The same norms about sexuality can help explain the gang rape of women.

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legal factors

Being a victim of gender-based violence is seen as shameful and weak in many societies, and many women are still blamed for behaviors that incited violence against them.

Until recently, the law in some countries still differentiatedpublic and private spaces, which makes women particularly vulnerabledomestic violence.

The Istanbul Convention guarantees everyone, especially women, the right to live free from violence in the public and private sphere. Although most forms of gender-based violence are criminalized in most European countries, in many cases police practice favors perpetrators. , which explains the low level of trust in the authorities and the fact that most of these crimes are not reported.

The decriminalization of homosexuality is still very recent in many societies. While many states have made progress in enacting same-sex marriage, this has sometimes met with backlash.

ECONOMIC factors

ANDlack of economic resourcesit makes women in general, but also LGBT+ people, particularly vulnerable to violence. It creates self-perpetuating patterns of violence and poverty, making it extremely difficult for victims to escape.

When men are hit by unemployment and poverty, it can also lead them to use violence to assert their masculinity.

political factors

The under-representation of women and LGBT+ people in power and politics means they have fewer opportunities to shape the discussion and make policy changes or take action.Combating gender violenceand support equality.

In some cases, the issue of gender-based violence is considered unimportant, as domestic violence also receives little attention and resources. The women's and LGBT+ movements raised questions and raised public awareness about traditional gender norms, highlighting aspects of inequality. For some, this threat to the status quo serves as justification for violence.

Gender Violence and Human Rights

People who suffer gender-based violence may have different experiencesinfractions, for example, the right to life, protection against torture and degrading treatment, protection against discrimination and the right to security.

All of these rights are found in international and regional human rights documents, particularly those of the United Nations and the Council of Europe.

United Nations instruments and actions

you are safe in itUniversal Declaration of Human Rights.

To intensify the fight against violence and discrimination against women, the United Nations has developed specific instruments and measures inConvention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Instruments adopted by the Council of Europe

In relation to human rights, gender equality and gender violence are mainly addressed through human rights instruments such asEuropean Convention on Human Rightsit's atEuropean Social Charter.

Growing awareness of the scale and persistence of the problem has led to the creation of specific tools to address gender-based violence in its various forms.

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national action

Despite the important advances obtained with the above instruments, the existing recognition and legal measures are not enough. It is necessary to establish effective mechanisms and processes to prevent violence and include a gender perspective.

In addition to international human rights mechanisms, relevant strategies or bodies at the national level should include:

  • National committees to promote gender equality with a clear plan of action;
  • defender of equality;
  • Effective legislation to ensure legal and substantive equality;
  • affirmative action, such as quotas for women in education and employment;
  • Women's NGOs, LGBT+ organizations and women's studies or LGBT+ universities.

The above content posted on the Collaborative Research Group is forfor informational purposes onlyand was developed with referenceReliable sources and expert recommendations.We have no contact with any official body, nor do we intend to replace the information issued by them.


1. What is Gender-based Violence? | Gender-Based Violence and its types explained in Urdu and Hindhi
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2. Gender-Based Violence- What is it all about?
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4. Human Rights 101 | Episode 3: What is a Human Rights Violation?
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5. Lesson 15: Gender-Based Violence: Survivor, Victim, Perpetrator and Human Rights
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6. Gender Based Violence During Conflict
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