“Violence against women continues to persist as one of the most heinous, systematic and prevalent human rights abuses in the world. It is a threat to all women, and an obstacle to all our efforts for development, peace, and gender equality in all societies.” Ban Ki moon, United Nations Secretary General
Around one in three women around the world will be beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. (Van der Graag, 2008, Women’s Rights)
So what causes violence against women? Obviously, the underlying reasons are complex and vary but these are some of the reoccurring themes:
- Control. Discrimination and gender inequality give way to the day-to-day mechanisms that seek to control women both at home and in wider society. This control is often expressed through emotional and/or physical violence.
- Emotional and financial dependence on a violent partner can prevent women from leaving an abusive relationship.
The cost of violence to women’s lives, their families, as well the wider society is enormous. The End Violence Against Women Coalition reports that apart from the physical and mental impacts it has on women themselves, violence against women “costs society £40 billion each year.” “The direct cost to the economy of domestic violence alone in England & Wales in one year is £6billion” and “the cost of sexual offences in a year is estimated to be £8.46 billion pounds, with each rape costing an estimated £76,000 pounds.”
We know that political action is driven by financial considerations – and evidently not out of concern for women’s rights and welfare (even though they make up half of their voters and constituents). So, if violence against women costs our society £40 billion a year, you would probably think that this would at last be a good reason for politicians to invest in women themselves as well as projects and welfare directed at women in order to address this issue.
Well, you’re wrong.
In March 2012 the guardian reported that the Fawcett Society collected “a battery of evidence showing that, between job cuts, benefits freezes and reductions in legal aid, it’s women who will be worst hit.” Additionally, they stated that an analysis of Treasury data by House of Commons Library researchers showed that “£11.1bn of the £14.9bn raised from the five spending reviews since 2010 comes from women even though they earn less than men on average.”
So instead of addressing the underlying causes of discrimination and gender inequality in order to prevent violence against women, the government’s measures are likely to exacerbate these issues – leading to the preventable suffering of countless of women and instead of saving money through cuts, costs will be transferred to women, their families, and the wider society when dealing with the aftermath of violence.
Luckily not all hope is lost. There are many organisations out there, like ourselves, who fight everyday for women’s rights and an end to violence. But the cuts have affected us hard.
The Women’s Resource Centre (WRC) “has found that 1 in 5 women’s organisations have closed and many more face an uncertain future.”
Their research found that:
- 70% of women’s organisations felt that being women-only made it more difficult to access funding.
- 64% of women’s organisations are ‘very concerned’ about funding for the next year.
- 95% of women’s organisations face funding cuts/funding crisis in the next year.
- 52% of women’s organisations believe the cuts will lead to a restriction on the services they can provide; 25% believe it will lead to the closure of their organisation.
- Due to the effect of the cuts on domestic and sexual violence services, it is expected that over 70,000 women may not be able to access a service after April 2011, putting more lives at risk.
However, they also state that “Social Return on Investment research shows that women’s organisations can generate as much as £14 of social value for every £1 invested in services.”
We want to stop discrimination, gender inequality, and violence against women for good. But we need your help. Spread the word and if you can, please donate at www.localgiving.com/jantrust. Thank You