GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE

Women beaten by partners more likely to abuse alcohol - report

Study also reveals most of the violence experienced by women is from a sexual partner.

In Summary

• Stigma, victim-blaming are some of the reasons women choose not to report cases of intimate partner violence. 

• Economic dependence on their perpetrators was also cited as one of the reasons women choose to stay in abusive relationships. 

Gender-based violence.
Gender-based violence.
Image: COURTESY.

Women who have experienced intimate partner violence are 2.3 times more likely to have alcohol use and 2.6 times more likely to experience depression or anxiety.

A study by the Commonwealth Secretariat on health facility responses to gender violence found that women who have been physically or sexually abused by their partners report higher rates of several important health problems.

The data was acquired from a report by WHO, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council. 

The paper also reveals most of the violence experienced by women is from a sexual partner.

"Globally, as many as 38 per cent of all murders of women are committed by intimate partners," the paper says.  

However, data for violence perpetrated by intimate partners is under-reported because of the shame, stigma, and danger that comes with disclosing the experience of violence.

"This is understood to be because the abuse may be ongoing and disclosing may place the victim's life at risk," the paper reads.  

Other reasons women do not report include; fear of losing access to their children,  victim-blaming and structural violence. 

"There is a general presence of victim-blaming present in health care facilities, by law enforcement and society, particularly when sexual violence occurs in spaces that are deemed morally compromising," the paper reads. 

Additionally, victim-blaming also occurs if the woman is dressed in a manner that is viewed as 'inappropriate' within a culture. 

Moralising the behaviour of the woman at the time of the assault takes away the focus from the perpetrator and shifts ownership of the reason to the victim, discouraging further reporting. 

During the recent  Commonwealth Women Affairs Ministers meeting in Nairobi, Gender CS Margaret Kobia said women and girls in Kenya were still exposed to poverty, FGM, violence and early marriage. 

"We have developed a special unit at the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions where women can report cases of FGM and other forms of violence against women," she said. 

The CS added the ministry is committed to economic empowerment of women through affirmative action funds and trainings. 

Economic dependence on their perpetrators was also cited as one of the reasons women choose to stay in abusive relationships. 

Community mobilisation,  arrests and safe houses and education with community outreach, focusing on men and boys are some of the interventions proposed to effectively reduce gender violence.