Gender-based violence (GBV) is both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality. It expresses a relationship of power, and is used to enforce and maintain power of some groups over others. Laws and policies frequently do not adequately address GBV, but even when laws on paper are good, they are often not well implemented or enforced. Moreover, changing law and policy is not sufficient to end GBV.
Society’s role in GBV
As long as social norms tolerate violence to police women’s behaviour, to punish those who do not conform to gender and sexuality norms, and support the agenda of keeping women subordinate, formal laws and policies will not succeed in deterring violence. For example, there are increased efforts to codify religion in public policy and push back against progressive legislative changes. This is taking place both at the national level as well as in the undermining of standards in the international system.
Less recognised violence
In addition, some forms of violence are less recognised as violence, and these less visible forms are more tolerated. Structurally excluded women – for instance, Indigenous women, women from groups targeted by racism, working-class women, lesbians and bisexual women, disabled women, sex workers, HIV-positive women, girls and young women, and trans people – have a lower status in society. While women’s rights movements have made progress globally in positioning GBV as a human rights violation, violence remains widespread and tolerated, particularly against these women who are not ‘counted in’.
Violence against women human rights defenders
In addition, the past decade has seen increases in the violence targeting the very women who would seek to change this status quo – women human rights defenders (WHRDs)– for their political activism and as a technique to intimidate and to silence dissent. These WHRDs are attacked because of their political work, but also because of their gender; the nature of the attacks is often gendered (e.g., actual or threatened sexual violence, threats again family members). These types of threats and attacks often result in burnout or force women to relocate or discontinue their justice work.
CMI! activities to stop gender based violence
Members of the CMI! consortium will develop and strengthen the capacity of structurally excluded women, girls, and trans and intersex people to effectively prevent and counter gender-based violence. They will combat GBV by working to change the social norms that tolerate violence, as well as to secure and press for the implementation of law and policy that address violence.