As it has always stood, it is human nature to fear what we do not know or understand. This speaks to the importance of clarifying the basis and motivation for this blog – Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
For a start, Gender has been defined by many scholars as biologically either of the two existing sexes (male and female), more so in accordance to social and cultural norms. It also includes an import of a range of varying identities that fall outside of what is typically known as male and female/masculine and feminine. Over the years the definition of gender has become fluid in that sense, as it is now inclusive of other groups who are non-binary, genderqueer and transgender. To understand gender holistically one needs to be open to understanding personal choice as gender today has a distinction between biological sexes and social constructs of gender. It includes how one personally understands and identifies themselves – going beyond the gender characteristics they were assigned at birth.
Societal and cultural norms have posed a force that, dare I say, endorses violence on the basis of gender, institutionally and structurally; a major driver of GBV. Also important to acknowledge is that the term GBV is often used synonymously with the term violence against women and girls but this form of violence essentially occurs for people of all genders as mentioned above, and includes men, women, children and gender fluid individuals of all ages and backgrounds.
It can take on different forms of harmful acts such as physical, verbal, emotional, psychological and sexual abuse; threats, intimidation, oppression and coercion; economic and educational deprivation. This harm is inflicted on individuals because of their gender and the perception of gender roles – basically as a result of gender inequality. What has always remained prominent for me is a no excuses, no explanations and no finger pointing approach to putting a stop to and preventing the violence. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to GBV and are victimised on the basis of justifications that always exempt the behaviours and actions of other human beings, particularly men, who refuse to account and will blame everyone but themselves for imposing themselves on the bodies and lives of other human beings – something that no one should have to be subjected to.
The issue of GBV, its causes and what is being done to remedy and prevent it is a broad one and so it would be a huge undertaking to express it all in this one post. I encourage reading, researching, learning and talking about it so that we are all in a position to engage and participate in implementing solutions.
Let’s stand firm together in the face of fear – Let’s end it!