Violence against half of our planet

Averages show that some 27% suffered some sort of physical violence whereas in Malta the number of respondents corresponds to 16%

I could never understand how men can be violent towards women, though I am well aware that over the years domestic violence has been rampant. We have made enormous progress in our social behaviour but it seems that eradicating violence against the female gender is still far away.

The White Ribbon campaign is a global movement of men and boys working together with women and girls for the prevention and elimination of domestic violence. White Ribbon Day is held on the 25th November and millions of men, women and children worldwide, wear a white ribbon to commemorate the day.

This event is not about being anti-male. It is about adopting the right approach towards understanding the scale of the problem and guiding men, alongside women to be part of the solution.

The vast majority of men are definitely against any form of violence towards women and children, but we need to take a stand wherever this happens, be it at home, workplace or anywhere else for that matter.

We must take a stand against gender violence, over and above our own personal behaviour. Being a real man does not call for dominance and being aggressive, let alone being violent.

Men must act by example and spread the message of non-violence towards women. In Malta the Commission on Domestic Violence has been set up for over ten years. It has created various awareness campaigns and it has worked closely with NGOs to promote the ‘Stop Violence’ campaign.

The Girls Guides Association, Malta has been working on raising awareness and has organised various activities and workshops to provide training to more and more people actively working on this ‘Stop the Violence’ project.

The project team has even presented an overview of this project to a delegation from Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania as part of the Erasmus Project ‘Against School Aggression’.

Internationally, campaigns are being organised on activism on gender-based violence. Events include talks, exhibitions, shows, movie screenings and workshops aimed to inform and raise awareness about gender-based violence. There are various characteristics of physical violence and these vary in degree. The most common forms of physical violence involve pushing or shoving, slapping or grapping, or pulling a woman’s hair. However, domestic violence sometimes leaves far more serious consequences.

An EU wide survey on Violence against Women, based on interviews with 42,000 women across the 28 Member States of the European Union, shows that violence against women, and specifically gender-based violence disproportionately affects women. Averages for the EU 28 show that some 27% suffered some sort of physical violence whereas in Malta the number of respondents corresponds to 16%. Figures for sexual violence show an EU average of 12% and 10% in Malta.

The survey also shows that violence in childhood comes mainly from the family. Do these numbers capture all our reality? I doubt it. Silence is very eloquent when it comes to domestic violence.

Perpetrators of violence and any violence should be condemned. Domestic violence, particularly involving women, is an extensive abuse that affects many women’s lives. Unfortunately, this is systematically under-reported to the authorities. Only some 14% of women report their most serious incident of violence to the police.

This is why the White Ribbon Campaign is important – to urge us to take the necessary action to work towards eliminating this problem.

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