Today, November 25, the “International day for the elimination of violence against women” is celebrated. It is an opportunity to remind the world how important it is not to remain indifferent to a phenomenon that is still prevalent on a global scale.
As reported by the World Health Organization, violence against women is a serious public health problem and a serious violation of women’s rights. According to WHO global estimates, 35% of women, or nearly 1 in 3 women, report having been exposed to physical or sexual violence from their partner or from other individuals they have met in their lifetime. Globally no less than 38% of murders of women are committed by their close male partners. This violence causes physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health problems in female victims and can increase their vulnerability to HIV.
It should be added that, according to recent data contained in world reports, in the 87 days of lockdown due to the health emergency, homicides in the family or in the emotional sphere increased, and in most of these cases, the victims were women. Forced imprisonment has exposed women more to the risk of domestic violence by a family member who leveraged the security measures adopted to address the COVID-19 threat. The anti-violence centers and the institutions have worked to avert possible tragedies by guaranteeing remote support to women who need it but, obviously, this was not enough.
It is important to make it clear that violence against women is a violation of human rights, a universal issue with serious consequences for the victims, their families and society. On May 11 2001 during the Istanbul Convention (Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence), brutality against women is recognized as being of a structural nature as it is based on gender and a manifestation of the historically unequal power relations between the sexes that have led to discrimination against women by men and prevented their full emancipation.
The cultural element is crucial in considering gender-based violence and it is a culture that needs to be unhinged and reoriented, through awareness-raising and prevention actions within educational and training contexts.