Domestic Violence Against Women Across The World-Where Are We?
According to The UN, up to 70 per cent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. It is a grave reality that women are not safe even at home in most of the places in this world. Domestic violence against women doesn’t know the boundary of socio-economic or educational status. Read this post to know about the legal systems around domestic violence against women across the world. Hopefully this will give you a better insight on why we are unable to deal with increasing level of violence against women, both at home and ouside.
History of Domestic Violence Against Women
Wife-beating was legal and a very common practice in almost all countries prior to the mid-1800s. Most legal systems viewed wife-beating as a valid exercise of a husband’s authority over his wife.
Women and children were seen as ‘belonging’ to a man, therefore controlling his wife and children in the form of physical violence or punishment by a man was acceptable in the religious and civil laws of all societies.
Legal Documents from the Medieval Age from different regions support wife-beating was legally allowed to ‘control, correct, support and instruct’ the wife by her husband.
During the 1800s, wife beating was extremely common in Britain. In the 1700s, an English common law came into effect that decreed that a husband had the right to “chastise his wife with a whip or rattan no bigger than his thumb, to enforce domestic discipline. For as he is to answer for her misbehavior, the law thought it reasonable to entrust him with this power of restraining her, by domestic chastisement in the same moderation that a man is allowed to correct his apprentices or children.” This law came to be known as the “law of thumb”.
In the U.S. the courts continued to uphold a man’s right to punish his wife with violence until 1871. In his article “Wife Beating: An American Tradition”, David Peterson explores the history, social conditions, and possible causes of wife-beating, during the mid to late 19th century.
Domestic Violence Laws in Different Countries
There are still 46 countries where women do not have any legal protection against domestic violence. Data shows 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime mostly by intimate partners.
In many countries either there is no law to protect women from domestic violence, or the existing laws are not effective to protect women from violence. Women with poor access to education and economic freedom are more likely to be financially dependent on their husbands, and less likely to report assaults to the police. Women taking legal action against their husbands are not acceptable in many societies. In many cases, law enforcement and community leaders support the male perpetrators, not the victims.
When legal systems are not equipped to protect women from being abused, assaulted, or killed by partners or family members; how can we possibly dream of creating a world free from oppression and violence against women? A lot still needs to be done before we reach the global goal of gender equality by 2030.
Read: Why Can’t Women Escape Abusive Relationships?
Some Surprising Domestic Violence Laws
In Nigeria, the beating of a wife for ‘the purpose of correction’ is legal by the use of (Section 55 (1) (d) of the Penal Code)!
In Russia, in 2017, domestic violence was re-classified from a criminal to an administrative offence. Under the new legislation, abusers can avoid jail time, and instead pay a fine, and if the victim has suffered no lasting harm, such as a broken bone or concussion if it was not a repetitive offence. Men are legally allowed to batter their wives without causing hospitalization!
In Egypt, the law allows a man to kill his wife if he catches her in an act of adultery. According to Amnesty International, 99 per cent of women in Egypt interviewed by the UN in 2013 have reported sexual harassment.
In Saudi Arabia and some other Arab countries, there is no law against domestic violence against women. Rape victims risk being charged with adultery. Surveys in Egypt, Palestine, Israel and Tunisia show that at least one out of three women is beaten by her husband. Beating wives are often justified by some religious laws and are considered as personal or family affairs where victims never receive support from health care professionals or law enforcement. A survey conducted by the Government of Egypt showed a huge percentage of young women thought to beat the wives for “talking back” to a husband, talking to another man, spending too much money, burning the dinner is acceptable.
In Lebanon, any man who commits a “kidnapping, rape or statutory rape can’t be prosecuted as long as he marries the victim afterwards.”
In Malta, the law says “after abducting a person, shall marry such person, he shall not be liable to prosecution,”! If the marriage occurs after a trial and conviction, the abductor’s sentence is immediately revoked.
In India, marital rape, when the wife and husband live together is not considered to be a crime.
Read: Dowry Killing: Why Does It Happen and How Can We Prevent It?
Are you Facing Violence, Abuses or Torture?
Here are some country-wise resources and link of the websites helping the victims of domestic violence and sexual violence:
- http://www.naasca.org/Groups-Services/NIGERIA.pdf – You will find a list of non-Profit, Non-Governmental Organizations working in different states of Nigeria to protect women’s rights and children rights, for the survivors of sexual and domestic violence.
- Women’s Crisis Care International(WCCI) is the first and only violence- crisis response center in the Arabian Gulf. WCCI provides violence -crisis response services for victims of domestic and sexual abuse in Bahrain. They also provide emotional support and informational support for victims of domestic violence and sexual violence. All services are free and confidential and open to all women.
- El Nadeem Centre For Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence works with victims of torture in Egypt. Other than helping women victims of doemestic violence, El Nadeem is also involved in addressing sexual violence against women.
- HarassMap is a volunteer-based organization works to end the social acceptability of sexual harassment in Egypt. They aim to create an environment where sexual harassment is not tolerated. HarassMap is working on different projects to tackle and document sexual harassment of women not only in Egypt but also in many other countries.
- https://www.naaree.com/how-to-report-domestic-violence-in-india-call-these-helplines/ – has a comprehensive list of domestic violence helplines and contact details organizations working for women’s rights in different parts of India.
- Domestic Violence Resource Network (DVRN) is funded by the United States Department of Health and Human Services to inform and strengthen domestic violence intervention and prevention efforts at the individual, community and societal levels. Their website provides a wide range of free, comprehensive and individualized technical assistance, training and resource materials for survivors of domestic violence among different population.
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_domestic_violence_hotlines – has list of Domestic Violence hotline number and website links of resources in Australia, China, Japan, Taiwan, NewZealand, the United Kingdom and the US.
WHO’s tools and guidelines for addressing violence against women below:
Scott J DeNicola
Even though we have laws in the US it is still not working based on how many stories you hear about Domestic Violence daily. Women who try to get away from abusers and the courts just don’t see it. It is really tragic.
OMG this is so sad. Something must be done. Thanks for highlighting this issue.
Several years ago, I read the book “Princess”. It was a biography written about a Saudi Arabian princess. Her identity was protected throughout the book, but it really opened my eyes to the injustices women go through (especially in Saudi Arabia). In her case, she was fortunate to marry a man that loved her. Her other family members were not so fortunate and their stories will be ingrained in my brain. Thank you for continuing to bring awareness to women’s issues all over the globe!
Bringing such violence to awareness is a worthy calling. You are to be commended for your diligence in tackling these topics.
This is such a scary topic because I think so many women suffer in silence from abuse. It is so horrible to know that these countries still have no legalities put in place to try to stop this. Although, like Scott mentioned, it still happens quite often even with legal repercussions. This is an issue that needs to be reinforced on both sides of the spectrum from early childhood in my opinion. We need to teach our daughters that under no circumstances is abuse to be tolerated but more importantly teach our sons that abuse can never be an option.
Erica (The Prepping Wife)
I’m always empathetic to women who are survivors of domestic violence because I still carry scars from it. The part in this article that upsets me is how in multiple countries sexual assaults are acceptable if they get married. No, that doesn’t magically make it ok. I can’t help but just shake my head at that one. I can’t quite wrap my head around how ridiculous that is.
Violence against women – particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence – is a major public health problem and a violation of women’s human rights.
I could not live in a country where violence against women is legal. It’s bad enough when it’s illegal and women are afraid to leave their abusers.
Your fact and figures say so much about this menace. Thanks for creating this awareness which affects so many in this world including our own country.
Women empowerment and abolishment of gender discrimination laws is a lasting solution to these menace. Many women stay in abusive and dangerous relationship purely for survival purposes.
When they can make their own money and live freely without being judged under the law, then we are closer to eradicating the menace.
I like that you are bringing more awareness to this issue. And, it’s nice that you listed resources for women to get help if they are in a situation where they are being abused.
I therefore conclude those continue to beat their wives are still trapped with the dogma of the past. I will never understand how can someone hurt somebody who is less powerful and vulnerable.
Debra Roberts Run Wyld)
Is it any wonder people want to come to our great country? As a labor nurse, I have heard first-hand stories from women who come here to give birth (which means they can then stay here with their US citizen child). While it’s a maddening way to gain entry, I totally understand their desire for freedom. It is mind-boggling how far we have come here, but that so many other countries can not achieve the same rights for women. Thank you for bringing awareness to these real world issues.
This is an eye opener post for me and glad that you have touched this sensitive topic. Keep up the good work
Boss Mom Outlaw
Domestic violence takes so many forms and I think many women don’t even consider the thing they endure abuse.
Domestic violence has been on the rise since the onset of the pandemic, however, it was very prevalent even before. We, at Safetipin, have released a new feature on the My Safetipin App called ‘Find Support’ with which a women facing violence can find the help centres within her state including police stations, police stations with women desks, NGOs, shelters, one stop centres and more! The feature currently exists only in India. Download the app today for free if you are facing violence!