The World Health Organization estimates that “about 1 in 3 (35%) women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.” Few data exists and measurements can vary substantially across cultures, but evidence suggests that even more women face psychological violence: 43% of women in the European Union have encountered “some form of psychological violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.”
Violence against women is a global pandemic and has resulted in immense costs to society. Medical, judicial, and lost productivity bills accumulate in the billions. According to the UN, “violence against women impacts on, and impedes, progress in many areas, including poverty eradication, combating HIV/AIDS, and peace and security.” With discrimination and institutionalized inequalities between men and women still existing, much societal progress still needs to be made. To highlight issues pertaining to violence against women and to encourage deeper reflection, we compiled a reading list that explores various international issues of gender-based violence.
Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse by Jill Theresa Messing
Intimate partner violence—the continual and systematic exercise of power and control within an intimate relationship that often also includes physical and sexual violence—has emerged as a significant and complex social problem warranting the attention of social workers. Jill Theresa Messing examines the prevalence, risk factors, protective factors, consequences, interventions, and challenges in facing intimate partner violence. Risk and protective factors have been identified at the individual, family, community, and societal levels. Some of these risk factors for repeat and lethal violence have been organized into risk assessment instruments that can be used by social workers to educate and empower survivors.
From Global to Grassroots by Celeste Montoya
How can transnational activism aimed at combating violence against women be used to instigate changes on the local level? Focusing on the case of the European Union, Celeste Montoya provides empirical and intersectional feminist analysis of the transnational processes that connect global and grassroots advocacy efforts, with a particular emphasis placed on the roles played by regional organizations and networks. She provides extensive data and contributes to theory on transnational politics, social movements, international organizations, public policy, and intersectional gender politics.
The Political Economy of Violence Against Women by Jacqui True
Violence against women is a major problem in all countries, affecting women in every socio-economic group and at every life stage. Nowhere in the world do women share equal social and economic rights with men or the same access as men to productive resources. Jacqui True develops a feminist political economy approach to identify the linkages between different forms of violence against women and macro structural processes in strategic local and global sites – from the household to the transnational level. In doing so, it seeks to account for the globally increasing scale and brutality of violence against women. She provides strong evidence that increasing women’s access to productive resources and social and economic rights lessens their vulnerability to violence across all societies.
Domestic Violence in the LGBT Community by Betty Jo Barrett
Since the mid 1980s, a growing body of theoretical and empirical literature has examined the existence of intimate partner violence (IPV) in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities. Collectively, this research has highlighted myriad ways in which the social and structural marginalization of gender and sexual minority populations create unique vulnerabilities for IPV that are not shared by cissexual and heterosexual individuals. Betty Jo Barrett provides an overview of this scholarship to inform strength-based social work practice with and for LGBT survivors of domestic violence at the macro, mezzo, and micro levels.
The Unsafe Sex by Nalini Natarajan
Not too long ago, India woke up to the heart-rending horror of the “Nirbhaya” rape case. While the brutal violence against the victim sent shockwaves throughout the country, the rapists (as well as other men on the streets) caused further moral outrage by blaming the victim for being out at night and holding her responsible for her rape. What does this signify? Is there an ongoing visceral war waged by men against women? Nalini Natarajan addresses this phenomenon and provides a socio-historical and cultural context to explain why public violence against women is rooted in the binary within which they are viewed—women as, ideally, a source of dignity within the home, while being a source of shame outside it. Probing the intensification of this war on women’s bodies, it delves into issues about their safety and security in an increasingly unpredictable world.
Earning Your Ally Badge: Men, Feminism, and Accountability by Michael A. Messner, Max A. Greenberg, and Tal Peretz
What does it mean for men to join with women as allies in preventing rape and domestic violence? Drawing from interviews with all three cohorts of men and women, Michael A. Messner
Max A. Greenberg, and Tal Peretz probe the promise and contradictions of men’s work as allies. Men who do feminist work are frequently treated as “rare men” who benefit from a “pedestal effect.” Some men have ridden this “glass escalator” to “rock star” status in the antiviolence field. On the other hand, men are also subjected to critical scrutiny and sometimes distrust from women. Men of color sometimes experience an especially rapid escalation in status in the field, but they also are often subjected to acute sorts of racialized scrutiny. The chapter examines the ways that differently situated men—often with women’s mentorship and guidance—define accountability as they strategically navigate the pedestal effect and critical scrutiny.
Violence edited by Bonnie G. Smith
Violence against women has been argued within feminist circles as the exercise of power over women by men in the name of preserving male honor and manhood in general. Feminist scholars have argued that violence committed against women is socially, culturally, and geographically specific, and, most importantly, gendered. This entry contains an overview and a comparative history of violence against women.
Domestic Violence in the LGBT Community by Rebecca Jane Hall
Feminist struggles since the 1970s have made important gains in how American state and interstate organizations respond to gender-based violence, challenging structural inequalities that increase vulnerability to gendered, racialized, geographic, and socioeconomic violence. Rebecca Jane Hall outlines three feminist antiviolence frameworks, exploring their intersections, contradictions, gains, and shortcomings. She then discusses current challenges in the antiviolence landscape, assessing the potential of those frameworks for transformative change. Canada is used as a case study, drawing on comparisons with countries from both the global North and South. Feminist action through international forums is also examined.
Featured image credit: “We Can Put a Stop to Violence against Women – Billboard – Sydney – Australia” by Adam Jones. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr.