Utulivu Women’s community Thursday conversations continue to unite Mojatu along with other charities, social workers, police, and residents of Reading. These online conversations create safe spaces for people to participate and confide in likeminded people about their own experiences.
Like the ‘’Celebrating Oneself and Others Wellbeing, Let’s Talk’’ meeting that took place Thursday 9th June, participants discussed their personal experiences affected by Gender Based Violence within Reading.
The founder of Utulivu Cecily Mwaniki, outlined to participants a variety of the expected positive outcomes from these conversations such as:
- an increase in the general sensitivity, understanding and knowledge about gender-based violence.
- develop competencies and skills necessary for society to change on gender-based violence.
- become aware of the signs and symptoms of gender-based violence.
- facilitate the exchange of ideas in this agenda confidently.
- have the confidence to start gender-based violence conversations.
For both men, women, and anyone in between, it is important to understand the definition of Gender Based Violence as this may aid people to intervene, withdraw themselves from it or feel confident in reporting signs of it.
It refers to harmful acts directed at an individual based on their gender. It is rooted in gender inequality, the abuse of power and harmful norms. Gender-based violence (GBV) is a serious violation of human rights and a life-threatening health and protection issue.
Gender Based Violence – UNHCR
It is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality and continues to be one of the most notable human rights violations within all societies. Gender Based Violence is violence directed at a person for their gender. Both men and women experience this, but most women and girls are victims. (European Institute for Gender Equality)
How is Gender Based Violence Different from Domestic Abuse?
- Domestic Abuse refers to violence carried out by partners or family members. It is the most common type of Gender Based Violence. In most contexts, domestic violence in used to describe intimate partner violence (IPV) which is violence that occurs between two individuals in an intimate relationship – sexual or romantic.
- As defined by the government, Domestic Abuse is ‘’any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence, or abuse between those 16 or over who have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. In most cases, it is experienced by women and perpetrated by men.
Domestic Abuse Includes –
- Physical Abuse.
- Sexual Abuse.
- Psychological Abuse and or Emotional Abuse.
- Online or Digital Abuse
- Coercive Control (patterns of intimidation, isolation, control with the use of threat of physical or sexual violence).
It is more common than you think. In the European Union since the age of 15, below are the statistics
- 1 in 3 women has experienced physical or sexual violence.
- 1 in 2 women has experienced sexual harassment.
- 1 in 20 women has been raped.
- 1 in 15 women has experienced stalking.
- 95% victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation in the European union are women.
Source: European Union Agency for fundamental rights, Violence against women.
Eurostat, Trafficking in human beings 2015
In UK, there were 24,856 offenses of coercive control recorded by police in the year ending March 2020, up from 16,679 in the previous year.
Causes of Gender Based Violence
- Cultural factors like stereotypes and prejudice
- Normative femininity and masculinity (social norms)
- Socialization of gender
- Family sphere being understood as private and under the male authority
- General acceptance of violence by the public sphere e.g., Sexual harassment on the streets.
Types of Gender Based Violence
- Harassment and sexual harassment.
- Can be sexual, physical, verbal, psychological (emotional) or socio-economic and it can take many forms, from verbal violence and hate speech on the internet, to rape or murder.
- Can be perpetrated by anyone: a current or former spouse/partner, a family member, a colleague from work, schoolmates, friends, an unknown person, or people who act on behalf of cultural, religious, state, or intra-state institutions.
Examples of gender-based violence
- Honour Killings.
- Female genital mutilation.
- Intimate partner violence.
- Domestic abuse.
- Child marriage.
- Physical punishment.
- Trafficking for sex or slavery.
- Sexual, emotional, or psychological violence.
- Unexplained anger.
- Cruelty to animals.
- Extreme jealousy.
- Strong controlling behaviour.
- Strong believes in the roles of men and women in relationships.
Although there is a clear uprise in strong womanly liberation within society, with a growing respect for the girls and woman who feel free to make their own choices without any influence of male validation or feeling ‘’too bossy’ to lead businesses and management, it still requires double the amount of effort and self-belief to push past any criticism and doubt from the men and women who suffer with internalized misogyny around us.
Personally, I have worked in heavy labour jobs where I am continuously belittled for my physical strength and doubted. Not being offered the same opportunities as the men. I cannot help but sense this comes from masculine traits where they fear to be outdone by a woman in a male dominated line of work.
And on a more personal level, i have experienced going through police procedures for a rape case where I was questioned meticulously and experiencing a male police officer attempt to trip me up on supposed lies, plus experiencing friends at the time also interrogate me about details to do with what I was wearing, whether I had exacerbated the situation. All this interrogation becomes intimidating enough to make you tired of explaining yourself and eventually doubtful of your reality.
It seems, any reports of other crimes, there has been no questioning that implies it could have been the victim’s fault, I do not believe the police imply the person who has been robbed, could have somehow been ‘’asking for it’’.
This in itself seems to be a very toxic trait of gender-based violence.
Our choice of language and ability to listen to one another, adapting our perception of gender is vital. We are all human and deserve to be heard and respected with the same opportunities. There is not a worse feeling than the feeling of exclusion.