Violence Against Women: A Pandemic No Longer Hidden

By César Chelala

January 14, 2019 "
Information Clearing House" -    Harvey Weinstein never imagined that actresses’ complaints against his abusive behavior would trigger a worldwide movement for women’s justice and fair treatment by men. Despite continued acceptance of physical and sexual violence against women, both women and men are now organizing across cultures and socioeconomic classes to challenge and change gender-based abuse and injustice.

Recently, in Argentina, the denunciation by actress Thelma Fardin that she was raped by the well-known Argentine actor Juan Darthés when she was 16 and he was a 45-year-old man forced him to leave the country in shame. In Sao Pablo, Brazil, where Darthés was hired to work in a restaurant, he was met by the loud complaint of a large group of Brazilian women.

Worldwide, the most common kind of gender violence is domestic violence, which occurs in the home or within the family. It affects women regardless of age, education, or socioeconomic status. Although generally women are the victims, men are also abused by their wives or partners. Violence also occurs among same-sex partners.

Although physical violence and sexual violence are easier to see, other forms of violence include emotional abuse, such as verbal humiliation, threats of physical aggression or abandonment, economic blackmail, and confinement at home. Many women report that psychological abuse and humiliation are even more devastating than physical violence because of the negative long-lasting effects on their self-confidence and self-esteem.

In many countries violence against women, especially in the domestic setting, is seen as acceptable behavior. Even more disturbing, a large proportion of women are beaten while they are pregnant. Comparative studies reveal that pregnant women who are abused have twice the risk of miscarriage and four-times the risk of having low-birth-weight babies than non-battered pregnant women.

Extent of the problem

Few precise figures on violence against women exist, but existing numbers are shocking. In every country where reliable studies have been conducted, statistics show that between 10 percent and 50 percent of women report that they have been physically abused by an intimate partner during their lifetime.

According to Mexico's Health Ministry, about one in three women suffer from domestic violence, and it is estimated that over 6,000 women in Mexico die every year as a result. A study of women in Mexico sponsored by the government (Encuesta Nacional sobre la Dinámica de las Relaciones en los Hogares 2006), reported that 43.2 percent of women over 15 years old have survived some form of intra-family violence over the course of their last relationship.

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