End Violence Against Women and Girls Collection


The theme of the UN’s 16 days of activism is UNiTE! ACTIVISM TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN & GIRLS!

This campaign calls for solidarity with women’s rights activists and to support feminist movements worldwide as they resist the rollback of women’s rights and advocate for a world free from Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG).  

We have created this collection of articles highlighting backsliding on women’s rights and exploring the many aspects of VAWG, in the hope that increased understanding and awareness can support the cause.

All of the articles in this collection are free to access until 31 December 2022. 

End Violence Against Women Collection

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This article offers an empirical critique of trauma-informed fear models by documenting how mothers experienced repetitive fear of domestic violence in France. I challenge the reduction of victims’ responses to traumatic ‘terror’ and suggest that the neurological fear models which circulate in training and advocacy discourses fail to acknowledge the domestic setting and the resources on which they draw to respond to fear. Analysing ethnographic data, the article adopts a structural theory of emotion and domestic violence. I draw on Jack Barbalet’s notion of fear containment and rework his model by applying it to non-elite and individual mothers through what I call ‘instrumental’ counterchallenge and submissiveness. I show that their fear practices are combined with fear containment. The article analyses fear as an occasion for knowledge acquisition and an auxiliary for instrumental action. The article highlights the hidden fear responses that go unnoticed when analysis prominently relies on neurological trauma: mothers act on their fears to confirm or overrule fearful anticipations and they experience fear as an occasion for knowledge acquisition to guide future action.

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Sex trafficking is a current, severe and intense global phenomenon. Many studies have made substantial efforts to map the routes and relations between countries of origin, transit, destination, and the methods of recruitment and retention. With a focus on the role of social relationships, for this article, we conducted a literature review using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) to provide further scientific evidence of the elements and processes that push victims – primarily women and girls – into sex trafficking. The findings show that family, intimate relationships, friendships and acquaintances play a critical role in the pre-entry period before sex trafficking. Among these, family violence, abandonment and abuse emerge as severe risk factors, as well as the role of fraudulent intimate relationships. We also include additional social and individual risk factors that, together with the role of family and social relationships, have impacts on potential victims, increasing the likelihood of sex trafficking.

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Natural disasters and pandemics bring new risks and dangers to women and their children. In particular, various factors stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, such as economic instability, additional stress and increased control over victims led to an increase in both prevalence and severity of intimate partner violence. Based on the findings of a study conducted by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), this article examines the main challenges during the first months of the COVID-19 crisis (March–September 2020) and analyses institutional responses to facilitate access to support services for victims. Relying on a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, the study highlights the role of European Union (EU) Member States in improving long-term responses to gender-based violence in times of crises. The study also gives particular attention to emerging promising practices and holistic approaches towards the gender-based violence crisis stemming from the pandemic, describing selected examples of initiatives adopted across the EU and identifying main areas of improvement.

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In the context of high rates of domestic violence and abuse (DVA) during the pandemic, specialist DVA services have been required to adapt rapidly to continue to deliver essential support to women and children in both refuges and the community. This study examines service users’ experiences and views of DVA service provision under COVID-19 and discusses implications for future practice. Data are drawn from a wider evaluation of DVA services in five sites in England. Fifty-seven semi-structured interviews and five focus groups were conducted with 70 female survivors and seven children accessing DVA services during the pandemic. Analysis identified key themes in respect of the influence of COVID-19 on the experience of service delivery. COVID-19 restrictions had both positive and negative implications for service users. Remote support reduced face-to-face contact with services, but consistent communication counteracted isolation. Digital practices offered effective means of providing individual and group support, but there were concerns that not all children were able to access online support. Digital support offered convenience and control for survivors but could lack privacy and opportunities for relationship-building. The pivot to remote delivery suggests directions where DVA services can expand the range and nature of future service provision.

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Background:

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a recent global pandemic associated with multidimensional health-related effects. In the fight against the spread of this novel pandemic, the majority have been living under restrictive conditions during its related lockdown that has created a conducive environment for gender-based violence (GBV). Our study aimed to ascertain the burden and determinants of GBV during the COVID-19 pandemic-related lockdown and curfew (CPLC) in Uganda.

Methods:

We conducted a quantitative descriptive cross-sectional study in Bushenyi-Ishaka municipality, southwestern Uganda in May, 2020. This study involved 339 adult participants regardless of their gender or ethnicity. Only 12 potential respondents declined to participate in this survey.

Results:

The prevalence of GBV during the CPLC was 42 per cent. The majority (57%) of victims were women. More than half (54%) of the victims and survivors of GBV attributed the violence to the lockdown. The determinants of GBV included being married, using substances of abuse and having financial problems.

Conclusion:

The prevalence of GBV skyrocketed during the CPLC in Uganda when compared to the period prior to the pandemic. Women were significantly more affected in all aspects of GBV. Therefore, we recommend developing targeted behavioural change communication strategies based upon our findings.

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This article investigates the police response to intimate partner violence (IPV) during the first lockdown in England (23 March–30 June 2020), a time when more people were confined to their homes and rates of IPV increased globally (). Having gained access to data for domestic abuse-flagged incidents from a south-eastern police force, this research compares quantitative data for 6808 incidents during the first lockdown in England with 6408 incidents during the equivalent 2019 timeframe. Quantitative analysis was conducted by comparing descriptive statistics and chi-squared testing.

This study finds that age distribution changed for victims and suspects, with IPV decreasing among younger age groups and increasing within older age categories. Shifts occurred in the categorisation of IPV crimes with an increase in crimes that can be committed remotely, most notably stalking and malicious communications. Additionally, the risk level differed for IPV incidents, with a reduction in incidents recorded as medium- and high-risk. Whereas, standard-risk incidents rose substantially, causing a change in the distribution of risk levels across reported incidents. This shift was reflected in fewer arrests, except among higher-risk incidents which maintained higher arrest rates. Official outcomes similarly decreased, with fewer court disposals and more simple cautions.

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Reports of an intensification of domestic abuse under COVID-19 restrictions has been described by the UN as a ‘shadow pandemic’. Drawing upon interviews with domestic abuse survivors (n=11), plus interviews (n=18) and surveys (n=22) with support service providers in Scotland, this article develops a nuanced understanding of how the conditions created by the pandemic interacted with existing experiences of domestic abuse, highlighting the relatively overlooked experiences of survivors who have separated from their abusers. The findings reveal how pandemic conditions triggered, mirrored and amplified experiences and impacts of domestic abuse through the complex interplay between isolation, anxiety, lone-parenting, financial concerns and protective requirements such as mask wearing. Participants described an increase in economic abuse, abuse online and the manipulation of child contact arrangements as the restrictions imposed by the pandemic facilitated perpetrator behaviours. However, survivors’ resilience, coping mechanisms, and in some cases enhanced feelings of safety, were also notable. These findings generate insights into the evolving but persistent nature and dynamics of domestic abuse though the pandemic, including how domestic abuse interacts with, creates, and is compounded by gendered inequalities irrespective of whether survivors have separated from their abuser.

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Drawing on video data collected between June and September of 2020, this piece reveals the unique challenges presented by COVID-19 frontline domestic abuse workers in the UK and provides critical reflections from the authors in the form of a collective interview. This innovative study uses participant-led data collection (in the form of self-recorded video diaries) and filmed focus groups with CEOs of UK charities, parliamentarians, the police and NHS professionals. The authors produced a film, Lifeline, drawing on the knowledge produced from these focus groups and video-diaries, foregrounding the voices of the women who work in this sector. The conversation presented here unpacks the complexities of representing domestic violence provision both in creative and academic outputs. Furthermore, the conversation reveals the epistemological challenges that come with representing and understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the domestic violence sector.

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As indicated by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, 80 per cent of women in Bangladesh experience partner violence (). Given this prevalence, it is essential to assess factors, transcending the personal, that precipitate such violence. Using the lens of structural violence and supporting studies showing that violence of one form engenders another, we posit that a lack of sanitation that leads to open defecation also contributes to an increased likelihood of partner violence. This study uses data from the Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey 2007 to explicate the association between open defecation and partner violence among women in Bangladesh. Results show that in our sample of 4466 women, almost 9 per cent reported open defecation, 18.4 per cent reported physical violence, and 10.2 per cent reported sexual violence. In the multivariate analyses, the adjusted prevalence ratios indicate that open defecation is significantly associated with sexual violence by partners (APR=1.30, p<0.05) but not physical violence. Implications are discussed.

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Although we often speak about a global increase in awareness and policy on street harassment, in France, the issue was incorporated into a gender-based violence policy subsector, while Dutch policymakers avoided vocabularies pertaining to structural male domination. Differences in governmental campaigns on street harassment were the result not only of policymakers’ positive convictions, but also of their ‘apprehensions’. Apprehension of ‘moralising’ led to resistance against and decline of feminism in the Netherlands, while apprehension of ‘stigmatising’ men of colour informed campaigns in France. This notion is proposed as an alternative to that of ‘blame avoidance’, which reduces policymakers’ avoidance behaviour to the logic of instrumental strategy. An analysis of apprehensions is attentive to how ideas shape social action: policy implementation cannot be reduced to the mechanical reproduction of policy paradigms, but is often the product of policymakers’ reflective choices in the policies they do and do not want to pursue.

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