Male violence against women is a form of gender-based discrimination and is internationally recognized as a violation of human rights.
Violence against women means “any act of gender-based violence that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty” (Art. 1 of the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women).
Violence against women not only has an epidemic dimension but is also one of the most serious and widespread forms of violence, due to its social costs and the consequences it has from a material and health point of view.
As the World Health Organization reports, violence against women is a public health problem that affects about one third of all women globally. It is the leading cause of death for women between the ages of 16 and 44, higher than the numbers caused by disease and road traffic accidents.
It mainly affects women who are victims of violence by their current or past partner.
Gender-based violence makes no distinction between countries, cultures, religions, languages, socioeconomic levels, educational qualifications, ages or skin colours.
It affects women from all over the world, from all ethnic groups, social backgrounds, levels of education and from all religions because gender violence, especially in intimate relationships, is an expression of the meaning that gender roles have and have always had.
Domestic violence: any form of physical aggression, psychological, moral, economic or sexual violence or persecution (stalking), whether executed or attempted and whether or not it has resulted in physical harm, acting within a present or past intimate relationship.
Psychological violence: includes a range of intimidating, threatening, harassing and disparaging attitudes on the part of the partner, as well as isolation tactics implemented by the same. It includes: blackmail, verbal insults, public and private blame, constant ridicule and devaluation, public and private denigration and humiliation, rejection, isolation, terror, deprivation and restriction of personal expression. In some cases the psychological ill-treatment is so severe that the victim becomes “brainwashed”.
Physical violence: includes the use of any act intended to hurt or frighten the victim and in most cases causes injury. In a general sense, physical abuse is defined as physical damage caused non-accidentally and by different means (hands, feet and objects). This category includes slapping, kicking, punching, biting, the twisting of an arm, blows to the head, violent shocks, burns, strangulation, suffocation. Physical aggression does not only concern those behaviours that physically harm, but also any physical contact made by the aggressor in order to frighten and bring the woman into a state of awe and control (stalking, harassing and continuously controlling what the partner does).
Economic violence: Reflects a series of attitudes aimed essentially at preventing the partner from becoming, or being able to become, economically independent, in order to be able to exercise indirect but extremely effective control over her.
Sexual violence: refers to attitudes related to the sexual sphere such as sexual harassment and sexual assault performed with coercion and threat, coercion to have sexual relations with third parties, to view pornographic material, to engage in prostitution and coercion to perform or suffer unwanted, perverse sexual behaviour.
Stalking is a set of behaviours, carried out by the partner or former partner, aimed at controlling and restricting the person’s freedom and takes on real forms of persecution of which women are the main victims. Stalking literally means “following/tracking” (as a prelude to catching) and defines a set of behaviours including: insistent and unwanted communication by phone, mail, e-mail, sms, mms, messages left on the windscreen of the car or in front of the door of the house, following, spying, surveillance of the house or workplace or actions of a direct type through physical proximity in public, or conduct not necessarily directed towards the persecuted person, but aimed at frightening and intimidating her.
Intra-family witnessed violence is defined as the witnessing by the child or adolescent of any form of maltreatment carried out through acts of physical, verbal, psychological, sexual, economic and persecutory violence (so-called stalking) on reference figures or other affectively significant figures, adult or minor (Cismai Guidelines).
Source: Baldry, Anna Costanza. Dai maltrattamenti all'omicidio. La valutazione del rischio di recidiva e dell'uxoricidio: La valutazione del rischio di recidiva e dell'uxoricidio. FrancoAngeli, 2016.
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