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Eliminating Violence Against Women and Girls

Today marks International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This day commits to raising awareness of violence against women and girls (VAWG) around the world, as part of a multi-year campaign to prevent and eliminate such violence. Read more about the UN campaign here.

The types of abuse that women and girls face globally include: rape and sexual abuse, forced marriage, human trafficking, femicide, domestic abuse, female genital mutilation, and other extreme forms of violence.

This is horrific and unjust, but sadly in areas where VAWG is commonplace, such violent actions are often seen as normal and justified. In fact, VAWG remains largely unreported because of both the stigma and shame that surrounds it, and the normalization and acceptance of its practice. As a result, targeted interventions and activities to raise awareness, and empower women and girls to never accept justifications of violence against them, are critical.

VAWG is unjust and unacceptable. Increasing awareness and extending access to education are key to ensuring that no woman or girl has to endure such violent acts, under any circumstances, ever again.

To mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Operation Fistula has teamed up with The Information Lab to create a data visualization using Tableau. This “viz” looks at the various circumstances in which people expressed that they felt violence against women was justified. The visualization is based on Demographic and Health Survey data, collected through household surveys addressed to men and women in Africa, Asia, and South America.

Click here to see our data visualization for International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women!

Shockingly, the visualization reveals that women are more likely than men to accept and justify the abuse that they, or their loved ones, face. As you will see in the viz, the data shows that in every category of justification given for wife beating – including things like the burning of food, and going out of the house without the husband’s permission – women are more likely to accept that there are valid justifications for wife beating.

If we break this down further, by exploring demographic factors like education level, employment, and place of residence, we gain further insight into why these women might be accepting and justifying the acts of violence against them.

The data shows that across all levels of education and residential areas women are still more likely than men to justify and excuse wife beating in certain circumstances. We can see, however, that if a woman lives in a rural area, and has had no, or very little education, then she is much more likely to express that violence against her can be justified or excused. From this, we can begin to develop more targeted interventions and strategies for raising awareness in order to stop VAWG.

At Operation Fistula, this data is particularly relevant to our mission. Women with fistula live in places where the burden of gender inequality is at its most extreme. Where the spectrum of injustices they face are most profound. The majority of women living with fistula are from rural areas, and have little to no access to education. They experience extreme ostracism and abuse, and are often targeted, becoming victims of violence and cruelty because of their condition. 

Today, and every day, we commit to working to end both the injustice of fistula, and inequities that cause it, including eliminating violence against women and girls.

Join the conversation! #GenerationEquality #OrangeTheWorld and #SpreadTheWord.

Also, be on the lookout for news about our new program, ‘Visualize Gender Equality’, which will highlight the link between obstetric fistula and other indicators of the most extreme forms of gender inequality.

Launching on International Women’s Day – 8th March, 2020 – this program will develop a series of dynamic data visualizations to fuel advocacy and action to end gender inequality.