(3 min read)
2021 marks the 30th anniversary of the Global 16 Days Campaign. According to UN Women, the global theme for this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which will run from 25 November to 10 December 2021, is “Orange the world: End violence against women now!”
Violence against women is messy. Year after year, reports, statistics, and think tanks remind us how bad the situation is and how to address it.
Still, we fail to make this planet safe for half of the population. Moreover, some groups of women are especially let down by our society.
Let’s have a closer look.
From the World Bank:
Girls and young women with disabilities may experience up to 10 times more violence than those without disabilities. There are 5 facts about women and disabilities:
- Discrimination and violence start early.
- Young girls are excluded from reproductive health and sexual education.
- Reproductive adulthood is filled with stigma and misconceptions.
- Risks are real even at older age.
- Violence can be mitigated by designing inclusive and accessible services that protect women and girls from violence.
From the Femicide Advocacy Guide:
- In the US, murder is the third—leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native women. Black women aged 25—29 have been 11 times more likely as White women in that age group to be murdered while pregnant or in the first year after childbirth.”
- In Canada, the homicide rate of Aboriginal women was almost 7 times higher than that for non—Aboriginal victims.
- In Australia, Aboriginal women are 17 times more likely to die from homicide compared to non—Indigenous women.
From the report by the British Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) dated July 2021:
“The girls who responded to our questionnaire indicated that, in order of prevalence, the following types of harmful sexual behaviours happened ‘a lot’ or ‘sometimes’ between people their age:
Non-contact forms, but face-to-face:
- Sexist name-calling (92%).
- Rumours about their sexual activity (81%).
- Unwanted or inappropriate comments of a sexual nature (80%).
Non-contact forms, online or on social media:
- Being put under pressure to provide sexual images of themselves (80%).
- Being photographed or videoed without their knowledge or consent (59%).
- Having pictures or videos of themselves that they did not know about being circulated (51%).
- Sexual assault of any kind (79%).
- Feeling pressured to do sexual things that they did not want to (68%).
- Unwanted touching (64%).”
From a survey from UN Women UK: 97% of women aged 18-24 reported experiencing sexual harassment in public spaces.
From the World Health Organization: Worldwide, almost one third (27%) of women aged 15-49 years who have been in a relationship report that they have been subjected to some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner.
LBTQ+ (by Brenda Carrière (she/her))
Being transgender exposes women to increased risks, more than 4 times greater risk of assault and almost 10 times greater risk of sexual assault. Being threatened with violence also happens at about 10 times the rate experienced by women in general. These risks are not spread evenly, with trans women who are visibly transgender running about double the risk of those who ‘pass’ well.
Report by the Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau, which serves the Dutch government with data on social and cultural subjects (in Dutch).
Report by Transgender Netwerk Nederland, the largest Dutch trans rights organization (in Dutch).
From a report from the US National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine: 50% of female faculty and staff and 20 to 50% of students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields report being harassed.
From a survey carried out by the British Royal Astronomical Society (RAS):
- Women and non-binary people in the field are 50% more likely than men to be bullied and harassed.
- 50% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer astronomers and geophysicists were bullied in the previous 12 months, and 12% of bisexual astronomers reported being bullied at least once a week.
Artificial Inteligence (AI)
Finally, I couldn’t resist searching for “women violence artificial intelligence” on the internet.
As always, tech solutions are (almost) promising. Some examples below:
- The Domestic Abuse, Stalking, Harassment and Honor Based Violence Risk Identification and Assessment and Management Model (DASH) is a risk checklist with questions to be asked a victim of domestic abuse by the front-line responder.
- AI is being used to identify human trafficking using GPS, social media data, and facial recognition.
- Nibye is a Swedish organization developing a watch that can detect if a woman gets attacked and automatically send a notification to friends and family.
- Chatbots are being used in Thailand to provide 24/7 information services for survivors of violence, accessible through their mobile and computer.
Still, as this article points out, a chatbot cannot replicate a counsellor. Moreover, AI learns from existing data provided by humans – in tech those humans are mostly men. If we want to harness artificial intelligence to help address violence against women, we need more women designing those applications.
Tech is not the magic bullet to femicide. We human beings are.
Thanks to my dear colleague Brenda Carrière for writing the LBTQ+ section focusing on the impact of violence on trans women.
Heavy stuff — reading these things always hurts so much, but exposure, continuing exposure is the only way we can win over enough people to end both the big physical things, the killing, the maiming, the raping but also the insidious mind games, the threatening, the exclusion, the pressure.