Policies and Domestic Violence

First off, I know it’s been ages since I last posted on this blog and I am kicking myself for not keeping up with it. Hopefully I will get back into the swing of things and post more often on here.

I recently just wrote this blog post for a class and thought it contained some interesting information that I wanted to share. By no means am I an expert, this is something I wrote based on some basic research, meant to be more academic based. This is a very interesting topic to me and I’m honestly quite proud of the work (especially with the amount of time I wrote it in). Let me know what you think.

 

According to the United Nations, around 70% of women have experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner at some point in their life. Over 700 million girls alive today were married as children (under the age of 18) and over 120 girls worldwide have experienced a forced sexual act (typically from their husbands or intimate partners). Females account for nearly 70% of human trafficking victims (both adults and children) detected globally. Many of these women that are affected do not seek help or report anything. After reading these facts, a few questions arose. What are governments doing (if they are doing anything at all) to help stop these issues? What are some policies that protect women, especially victims of violence and abuse?

The United Nations says “At least 119 countries have passed laws on domestic violence, 125 have laws on sexual harassment and 52 have laws on marital rape.” Out of the 196 countries in the world, this is a decent amount of countries that has some kind of law to protect women. So, they shouldn’t be affected by all these problems, right? Well, the facts say otherwise. Although there are laws, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are always on par with international standards/ recommendations and/or implemented. The greatest struggle for implementation of these laws is making sure the women are able to report to the police and have access to shelters for protection and other resources. Over time, the awareness of domestic violence has improved, in many places around the world, being beaten by a male family member still carries a large burden of being shamed.

Rape receives the most legal protections with domestic violence, sexual harassment and marital rape following close behind. Although Europe and North America have the strongest overall legal protections, this does not mean that they are perfect by any means and are better off than countries with fewer protections. It’s important to note that although there are legal protections, many times it’s not fully implemented or observed. The numbers are describing law, not practice. In countries where women possess more economic power, law enforcement typically enforces more legal protections. The weakest legal protections are in Western Asia which had 21% of the countries worldwide with no marital rape laws and 44% of countries with no legal protections against domestic abuse. This region of the world only accounts for about 10% of the countries involved in the research.

Women in government tend to make a significant difference in the strength of legal protections for gender-related violence. As the percentage of women increase, the percentage of the legislature adopting full legal protections against domestic violence also increases. These numbers come from surveying women who don’t consider themselves feminists, are merely placeholders in the government and come from elite families, making this fact much more intriguing.

Increased economic globalization is also associated with lower sexual harassment protections, mainly because these legal protections are enforced in the workplace and as economic globalization grows, women gain more status and rights in society. The flip side of this fact is that women in these situations are more afraid to report their cases of assault due to competition with other women for employment. This goes back to the idea that these facts are mainly showing the laws and overall trends, not necessarily the reality of how they are implemented in society.

International law also seems to strengthen the laws against domestic violence. If a country ratifies the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), other countries are more likely to adopt full legal protections against domestic violence. CEDAW is an international treaty that the UN adopted in the late 1970s. It is an international bill of the rights of women and has been ratified by 189 states. This is shown as a reliable way to advance laws against domestic violence. Strong laws do, in fact, make a difference. Countries with stronger legal protections against gender-related violence have less gender inequality, high levels of human development and lower HIV rates in females. These countries tend to have a stronger enforcement of the laws and are linked to International Law and its effectiveness.

There are many laws protecting women, but we still have a long way to go to actually stop the violence from continuing. There are many limitations to the law and there will, unfortunately, be a discrepancy between the law and implementation. However, overcoming those challenges as well as the challenges of getting victims proper resources is a step in the right direction. The laws that have been set in place need to be constantly revised and improved to make sure they are as effective as possible.

 

Till next time,

K

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