Current efforts to prevent violence against women and girls are inadequate, according to a new series published in The Lancet. Estimates suggest that globally, 1 in 3 women have experienced either physical or sexual violence from their partner, and that 7% of women will experience sexual assault by a non-partner.
Despite increased global attention to violence perpetrated against women and girls, and advances in knowledge about how to tackle these abuses, levels of violence against women including intimate partner violence, rape, female genital mutilation, trafficking and forced marriages remain high, with serious consequences for victims physical and mental health, according to a Lancet news release on the series.
The series authors say governments and donors need to commit financial resources to ensure their verbal commitments translate into real change. We definitely need to strengthen services for women experiencing violence, but to make a real difference in the lives of women and girls, we must work towards achieving gender equality and preventing violence before it even starts, series co-lead Professor Charlotte Watts, PhD, founding director of the Gender Violence and Health Centre at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said in the release. No magic wand will eliminate violence against women and girls. But evidence tells us that changes in attitudes and behaviors are possible, and can be achieved within less than a generation.
Working with both the perpetrators of violence and women and girls will be essential to achieve lasting change, by transforming deeply entrenched societal norms on gender relations and the insidious belief that women are inferior, according to the release. Healthcare providers are often the first point of contact for women and girls experiencing violence, said series co-lead Claudia Garcia-Moreno, MD, World Health Organization, who coordinates research and policy on violence against women. Early identification of women and children subjected to violence and a supportive and effective response can improve womens lives and wellbeing, and help them access vital services. Healthcare providers can send a powerful message that violence is not only a social problem, but a dangerous, unhealthy, and harmful practice and they can champion prevention efforts in the community.
The series urges policymakers, health practitioners and donors worldwide to accelerate efforts to address violence against women and girls by taking key actions that include allocating resources to address violence against women; changing discriminatory structures (laws, policies, institutions) that perpetuate inequality between women and men and foster violence; investing in promoting equality, non-violent behaviors and non-stigmatising support for survivors; strengthening the role of health, security, education, justice and other sectors by creating and implementing policies for prevention and response across these sectors, and integrating violence prevention and response into training efforts; and supporting research and programming to learn what interventions are effective and how to turn evidence into action.
For information on the series: http://www.thelancet.com/series/violence-against-women-and-girls