“In the study conducted on the rural community of Trincomalee district, it was evident that the majority of women victims continue to live within the abusive relationship placing the welfare of the children in the first concern.”
“Another study done in 2000 on 52 victims of domestic violence in the Nuwara Eliya Anuradhapura and Matara districts, showed that in 13 cases, violence was directed at children and in 11 cases the children had witnessed violence among their parents.” (Illesinghe, 2011)
“Hmm…. These kinda people never change. These victims should be brave and strong enough to handle and overcome the situation may be. No matter how hard we try we can’t change certain people. After all it’s the fault of this society!” Sigh.
Well yeah that’s the way most of us have been reacting to such a news or case. We end up blaming the society and that’s it! We don’t even take a moment more to give it a thought.
Is it really the society which has to take the blame on? Well may be yes! But did you even realize that we also belong to the society we’re always pointing our fingers to. Do you realize that together we’ve formed this society? So literally whom are we passing the ball to? Think for a moment.
How many of us are really aware of what’s Gender-based Violence (GBV)? How many of us have listened to such a story from a victim’s perspective? Have we ever stopped for a moment and thought of what’s the real cause of it and how harmful it is?
May be a very few of us or probably none.
Yes, because we’re all living in a technological advanced world where we have allocated all our time to technological advancement while lacking the basic humanity.
Specifically, being an IT undergraduate I can relate to the situation as a result of my own experience. Our brains have been totally trained to look at the world in digital view that we always look up to digital solutions for each and every problem we come across even without our own concern.
So a survey was conducted by me among around 30 IT undergraduates to figure out the awareness level and attention paid by them on GBV. Accordingly following are the survey results obtained with a 27 responses.
Figure 1 Research data (Source – Researcher, 2020 ) Figure 2 Research Data (Source – Researcher, 2020 ) Figure 3 Research Data (Source – Researcher, 2020 ) Figure 4 Research data (Source – Researcher, 2020 )
The above survey details help us to determine that more that 50% of the respondents are aware of GBV but only 37% of them have paid attention to any GBV cases which figures out how less concerned they’re about the social issues. And the rate of respondents felt wanted to listen/help to a GBV is on a 50 – 50 ratio. Thus, what’s more pathetic is more than 75% of them have no idea about the GBV cases reported locally or globally. And again the realization of cause and harm related to GBV has a 50-50 ratio. Furthermore, more than 70% of them has never gave a thought about utilizing technology to spread awareness or help GBV victims which clearly determines how unconcerned they’re. Thus, as they’re trained and used to have a digital perspective on all the problems while figuring out the alternative solutions, more than 90% of them has agreed that technological advancement can be utilized in minimizing gender-based violence, which eventually will also aid in spreading awareness among them.
Although we tend to pay less attention to this topic, this is a globally concerned and spoken. Basically Gender based violence is defined in many ways and following is how Europe commissions address it,
“GBV is violence directed against a person because of that person’s gender or violence that affects persons of a particular gender disproportionately. It can include violence against women, domestic violence against women, men or children living in the same domestic unit. Although women and girls are the main victims of GBV, it also causes severe harm to families and communities.” (European Commision, 2020)
Sri Lankan Women’s Health Committee addresses it as,
“Gender-based violence (GBV) includes all forms of violence including women and men based on their gender. GBV may be experienced throughout the life cycle of an individual, starting from intrauterine life” (Illesinghe, 2011)
Accordingly, there are 3 basic ways, GBV can be categorized into, physical, sexual and psychological. Although people can be subjected to this violence by anyone, what’s even more pathetic is that these kind of violence is most likely to occur from their own intimate partners or families rather than a third person.
Furthermore, the women and girls are considered to be the most determined and out spoken victims of GBV. Specifically, men are known and believed to be physically stronger and guardians of women, girls and kids, it’s most likely that they’re treated superior. So in the name of this stereotype some men get misinterpreted and misguided to ill-treat the women/girls or kids. And the typical Sri Lankan communities have brought up the girls in a way to tolerate all this and have the extreme level of patience at any cost.
Although women and girls are considered to be the main victims there are equally reported GBV cases of men, therefore the male victims also need to be considered and paid attention to. Accordingly, men are more likely to get exploited to sell drugs and for child prostitution. Most commonly the Sri Lankan of men are sexually abused in the childhood comparatively more than the girls.
“A study conducted in the early 1990s among 899 pre-university and undergraduate students in Sri Lanka revealed that 18% of the boys and 4.5 % of girls had been sexually abused in childhood. Among both younger and older children in Sri Lanka, more girls than boys, are exploited for child labor as domestics. Boys are exploited more for child prostitution, theft and the sale of drugs” (Departement of Probation and Child care services , 1998)
“Twenty-eight percent of male respondents reported experiencing sexual abuse during childhood.
Thirty-nine percent of male respondents reported experiencing physical abuse during childhood while 44% were emotionally abused.” (CARE International Sri Lanka, 2015)
Further the men are most likely to suffer from stress and depression due to the financial and economic issues faced. Moreover, as they’re determined as the providers of the family the low income or unemployment has caused way to depression and also has led the way to suicidal thoughts. So paying attention to what causes this has helped to discover the main reasons as,
- HARMFUL GENDER NORMS
“Gender stereotypes and are often used to justify violence against women. Cultural norms often dictate that men are aggressive, controlling, and dominant, while women are docile, subservient, and rely on men as providers. These norms can foster a culture of abuse outright, such as early and forced marriage or female genital mutilation, the latter spurred by outdated and harmful notions of female sexuality and virginity.” (Giovetti, 2019)
Accordingly, the gender stereotypes are the basic and foremost reason and cause for this. Many communities in the society consider men as superiors, dominant and born to control. This has initially lead the way to GBV as these communities and the society orders the women to be submissive and rely on men as providers.
Further the stereotypes consider men to be the providers of the family, this has made men to undergo unnecessary pressure and stress which has eventually led to depression causing suicidal thoughts.
“Men with less education were at highest risk of depression and sucidal thoughts, possibly due to fewer oppurtunities for employment and social mobility available to men with less education.” (CARE International Sri Lanka, 2015)
“money shortages increase tensions within families, which can lead to violence.” (Giovetti, 2019)
Financial issues are main reason for the conflicts to be occurred in a family. It’s not only the women or kids being subjected to violence due to this but men too. When money shortages occur in a family the stress level increases among the intimate partners which eventually lead to violence.
Even many of us can even relate to the initial stage of this as we also have witnessed our parents stressing over financial issues which eventually leads for arguments, conflicts and even this leads for aggressive behavior of parents with kids.
“Overall, 56% men reported work-related stress. Furthermore, 60% of men reported they were frequently under stress due to inadequate. Forty-six percent of male respondents also reported athat they are frequently stressed or depressed because they do not have a job that suits their education and/or experience.”
3.WAR AND CONFLICT
Furthermore, the conflicts between intimate partners are most likely to occur when the understanding and intimacy is low. Mostly the child marriages occur in the rural regions, war/conflict regions. Parents tend to make their daughters to get married in the very young age probably to an older man than her just because to ensure her financial security and safety.
If you just analyze these causes in general the unawareness can be highlighted as a major and a common issue. Then the illiteracy and the poverty can be figured out as an issue of case. Thus, there are instances where educated and independent women also have gone through these violence acts. People are more likely to become helpless at any point. Although we’ve got number of family members, friends and well-wishers around us still there are critical circumstances where we don’t even find a person to talk about what we go through. Despite how educated or independent a person is there are situations where they tend to be misguided in the name of stereotypes.
So the question is, what can really be done to put a full stop to all these?
Hmmm., No we cannot come for an end in a very short time period but we can find for better solutions/ precautions or ways to minimize this.
So in a technologically advanced society don’t you all think technology would also be able to provide any precautionary methods to minimize GBV.
Yes, It can. The technology always has its own way of dealing with any real life problem to come up with an alternative solution. So does it here. Have your ever heard of the online help desks.
May be yes or maybe not, so here I’ll brief it for you, mostly the unawareness tends the people to be subjected to GBV. So a web site or an application can be utilized to create awareness among people about GBV and to keep them updated. And the tips on how to deal any in case you’re being victimized can be provided. Furthermore, the online help desk can be used as a platform in alternative to a good listener to help victims to share their story or any pathetic situation they’ve gone through or currently going through. So that the required measure can be taken to help them. Moreover, the stress and tension of people can mostly be decreased when they’re given a chance to speak up their mind. Eventually calming down a stressful or tensed mind can result in minimizing the GBV cases. Accordingly, an online help desk can be utilized in several ways to avoid the pathetic circumstances.
Sri Lankan government has initiated an official website via Ministry of Women & Child Affairs and Social Security to support women and children by educating them on the law, policies and action plans related to violence against them. Also it provides the women and children with the facility to contact the authorities to seek help. Thus, this platform doesn’t pay attention to overall GBV cases therefore the victims are in trouble. Further Sri Lanka lacks the exposure to technological help in related to GBV cases which eventually has been a reason for the ignorance and unawareness. Even though there are few applications and web sited developed for this purpose, no proper service is provided and no high responsive rate. Accordingly, no appropriate online help desks or apps has been introduced or implemented to help the victims or create awareness and spread precautions among them.
Thus, there are many active and responsive help desks and online platform available for GBV victims. Those platforms have played a major role in creating awareness and preventing GBV cases worldwide. Further it has a lend a helping hand to the victims who seek help. Accordingly, the change brought in the GBV environments by these platforms and facilities helps to determine how significant and successful attempt it is to be initiated and implemented to minimize and avoid GBV cases as well to aid the victims in the most appropriate way by providing with the required precautions. Following are some major GBV help desks available world-wide.
Figure 5 Online Help Desk 1 (Social Development Direct, 2020)
Figure 6 Online Help Desk 2 (Unicef, 2020)
Figure 7 Online Help Desk 3 (GBViE Help Desk, 2020)
Tus, in a world where we are concerned about making literally every essential possible via online why don’t we pay attention to such a basic concern of the society. What do you think values more than a human life and peace of mind? literally nothing. Let’s give it a thought rather than just leaving it a news and moving on. Let’s not wait till it happens to one of our friends or families to open our eyes. Let’s not become robotics in the process of making everything artificially intelligent.
CARE International Sri Lanka, 2015. https://med.cmb.ac.lk/. [Online]
Available at: https://med.cmb.ac.lk/
Departement of Probation and Child care services , 1998. Second Country report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Colombo: Minstry of Social Serices.
European Commision, 2020. European Commision. [Online]
Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/gender-equality/gender-based-violence/what-gender-based-violence_en
GBViE Help Desk, 2020. GBViE Help Desk. [Online]
Available at: https://gbvaor.net/sites/default/files/2020-03/Disability%20Considerations%20in%20GBV%20programming%20during%20COVID_Helpdesk.pdf
Giovetti, O., 2019. Concern Worlwide US. [Online]
Available at: https://www.concernusa.org/story/3-causes-gender-based-violence/
Illesinghe, V. J., 2011. Review of Research Evidence on Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Sri Lanka. 2nd ed. Colombo: Sri Lanka Medical Association.
Social Development Direct, 2020. Social Development Direct. [Online]
Available at: http://www.sddirect.org.uk/our-work/gbv-in-emergencies-helpdesk/
Unicef, 2020. Unicef. [Online]
Available at: https://www.unicef.org/protection/files/GBViE_HD_email_template_4-12.pdf