Defining Violence against Women and Girls

Defining Violence Against Women and Girls

The internationally agreed definition, as set out in the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, defines Violence Against Women and Girls as:

Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women [or girls], including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.

Violence against women shall be understood to encompass, but not be limited to, the following:

Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, nonspousal violence and violence related to exploitation;

Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution;

Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.

Girls and young women under the age of 18 years are further subject to violence when they suffer the ‘neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation’.

Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, Article 1, 1993

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Forms of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG)

The following pages define the most common forms of Violence Against Women and Girls. It is very important that education professionals understand both the overarching concept of Violence Against Women and Girls and the different forms that it can take, particularly those that apply to girls and young women:

–      Teenage relationship abuse

–      Sexual assault

–      Forced marriage

–      Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

–      Domestic violence

–      Sexual harassment and bullying

–      Sexual exploitation

–      Crimes in the name of so-called ‘honour’

Violence Against Women and Girls impacts on people from all backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, disabilities, ages, sexualities, social economic classes and gender identities.

Some people may be more vulnerable than others. For example Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic & Refugee women, disabled women, teenagers and those in same sex relationships may experience additional discrimination and violence and may not be able to access the specialist support services that they need.

Although in a minority, men and boys can also be victims to some forms of Violence Against Women and Girls such as domestic violence, forced marriage and sexual violence. As such it is helpful to think of the term as a reference to a group of crime types rather than as a description of victims.