The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women in 1993. The document defined violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.”
Twenty-one years later studies show violence is as common in same-sex relationships as it is in heterosexual ones. Preconceived notions about gender roles delayed awareness and acceptance of domestic violence in the LGBT community. Despite sexual orientation, 95% of intimate partner violence victims are women according to The US Department of Justice. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence puts the percentage of women victims at 84%. Although the percentage varies, domestic violence is color blind; women of every race are equally at risk.
Women are more likely to be killed by a current or former male partner and at least three women are murdered by their husbands or partners in the United States every day. Seventy-five percent are killed as they attempt to leave the relationship or after the relationship has ended.
- In India, 8,093 cases of dowry-related death were reported in 2007; an unknown number of murders of women and young girls were falsely labeled ‘suicides’ or ‘accidents’.
- In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, between 40% and 70% of female murder victims were killed by their intimate partners.
- In the State of Chihuahua, Mexico, 66% of murders of women were committed by husbands, boyfriends or other family members.
- Approximately 100 to 140 million girls and women in the world have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting, with more than 3 million girls in Africa annually at risk of the practice.
- Over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides, married before the age of 18, primarily in South Asia (31.3 million) and sub-Saharan Africa (14.1 million). Violence and abuse characterize married life for many of these girls. Women who marry early are more likely to be beaten or threatened, and more likely to believe that a husband might sometimes be justified in beating his wife.
- In the United States, 83% of girls aged 12 to 16 experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools.
- In Guatemala, two women are murdered, on average, each day.
- Studies suggest that one-fourth to one-third of the 170 million women and girls currently living in the European Union are subjected to male violence.
- In 9 Latin American countries, a rapist who marries his victim stays out of jail. (Chiarotti, 2000)
- Studies suggest that one-fourth to one-third of the 170 million women and girls currently living in the European Union are subjected to male violence. (Logar, 2000)
In the United States, a woman leaves an abusive relationship an average of seven times before she leaves for good. She turns to domestic violence shelters for help because it’s not safe to go to friends or family where she can be found. She’ll need a shelter with a modern security system and detailed safety plans. A good shelter will provide food, temporary housing, work, daycare and relocation resources.
It’s critically important to locate and support local shelters. Someone you know; your cousin, mother, friend, sister, co-worker or daughter will need it someday. For information on shelters and services in your area, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224.
(Purchase a signed copy of The Glass Sponge in October and 20% of each sale will be donated to Harbor House Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Shelter.)