Domestic violence has the connotation that women and children are the ones commonly wrongfully harmed or battered. Violence against women (VAW) has some historical roots. Women have always been traditionally helpless and dependent on the men in the lives – husbands or fathers – so that they were treated like possessions.
The truth is there is no single solution that can end this problem afflicting the entire human race. To end the violence against women is no simple task either because the gender-based discrimination and gender inequality is present even at home. There is a need for a comprehensive and all-inclusive approach that needs to be worked out by the entire society.
This means that everything that potentially impact on women need to be rehashed to start a radical change that will protect women from violence at home, at the workplace, at school and all other organizations and places in the society. It is not just the responsibility of a person, group or government. It requires the involvement of every imaginable stakeholder where there are men and women.
To push back violence against women, there were six elements and strategies that were identified in an international conference (A Parliamentary Response to Violence against Women) that was held in Geneva in December 2008. Here are the six elements and strategies:
There has been much effort already to address violence through legislation in many countries around the world. To make these laws work, they need to be harmonized so that the laws will not run in conflict during implementation. The laws need to include provisions that aim to prevent violence, to protect and support victims, and to prosecute and punish the perpetrators of the crime. The laws must also be evidence-based consistent to the rules of evidence. It is also essential to have a mechanism of implementation and the law to be regularly monitored, assessed, and amended to keep it relevant and responsive to the needs of women.
Legislation is important, but laws can only give its full benefit when implemented. The gap between the two needs to be bridged. This becomes possible through the efforts of parliamentarians – budgetary allotments, assessment of the impacts of the laws, use of available parliamentary mechanisms, powers and other inter-institutional mechanisms. It is also their role to encourage the civil society to support efforts to end VAW.
To make the effort work, it will require a long term to inculcate the change and mentality in social patterns within the system. This can only most effectively happen with continuing growth in awareness through the leadership of parliamentarians, policy leaders, and opinion leaders. The entire process of consciousness about gender equality and human rights need to start from birth, through childhood and onwards. It should be deeply integrated in the education system, law enforcement and, virtually, in every fabric of the society to elevate awareness.
The efforts of the leaders can only bear fruits when it is complemented by partnerships with cross party alliances – civil society, grass roots, and other stakeholders. Men, in particular, must manifest strong support and partnership to end VAW.
It has to be made clear that VAW is a political issue that needs strong political will for it to end. The parliamentarians can apply and ceaselessly apply pressure to the government to sustain its commitment to end VAW. This political must be made visible or highly emphasized to engage others.
All these can happen when a strong and responsive institutional framework is laid as a foundation. Through the framework, the capacities to address VAW are concretized. It is important too that women become an integral part of decision – making bodies in order to mainstream gender-sensitivity. These must all be implemented at all levels of government.
Ending the violence against women is a hope against hope. Nevertheless, with coordinated efforts between men, women, government leaders, parliamentarians, other related groups in the international scene and everyone, it may take time, but somehow it stands a chance.
The efforts of the leaders can only bear fruits when it is complemented by partnerships with cross party alliances.