Violence Against Women: Not Acceptable in Any Circumstance

Tuesday, July 27 2010

Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) Marks International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Violence against women has emerged over time from a private, unspoken secret to a public issue that often evokes demands for societal change.

But does more attention really change attitudes and actions? For many women, their world is no better.

One out of three women around the world has experienced abuse in her lifetime. Internationally this violation of human rights includes the trafficking of women and girls, female genital mutilation, dowry murder and crime against women in war, to name a few examples. The United Nations Development Fund for Women states, "it was estimated that violence against women was as serious a cause of death and incapacity among women of reproductive age as cancer."

While violence may be expressed in different forms, many women in Canada experience its impact daily. Twenty-nine per cent of women in Canada are physically abused by partners or ex-partners, and recent studies indicate that exposure to domestic violence was the second most common form of substantiated child maltreatment in Canada in 2003. The recently released first-ever World Health Organization study on domestic violence reveals that the most common form of violence against women is intimate partner violence and that the abused women in the study were "twice as likely as non-abused women to have poor health and physical and mental health problems, even if the violence occurred years before".

It is impossible to discuss violence against women without considering women’s social and economic inequality, which is the context for violence. A report issued by CASW in 2004 indicated that the ratio of women’s earnings to men’s changed little over a ten-year period and that women continue to be among the poorest of the poor in Canada. In 2001,

2.4 million women, compared to 1.9 million men, had low incomes. The income of women is even further affected by age, family status and ethnicity.

Violence against women is a universal problem. It is a human rights violation that affects women and girls regardless of age, ethnicity and social class

– both nationally and internationally. – and we must say "no" to violence in any form.

CASW applauds those whose efforts have ensured that the silence is broken and that violence against women is now a public issue. It is now time for others to do their part. Everyone has a role to play in changing attitudes and creating a society in which violence is not accepted. As attitudes change, so will actions. "No" does mean "no"

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