The Economy of Safety: The Importance of Financial Freedom for Women

This post is part of an ongoing series on the intersection of law and how it interacts with violence against women, illuminating how it is equally critical to make effective implementation of law, as well as the legislation itself, a priority. For background and the inspiration of this series, start here

Violence against women, particularly domestic violence, is largely thought of as occurring in private, within the home. However, violence perpetrated by men against women occurs in the public sphere more often than one might think. Physical intimate partner violence is only one element in a larger framework that subordinates women. Societies all over the world use the law to maintain social norms that define the role of women and limit their independence. Remarkably, it is exactly these legal restrictions that hinder countries’ economic prosperity and development.

The World Bank Group recently released a Report examining the laws of 173 of 196 countries in the world.  In focusing on seven indicators of economic opportunity – accessing institutions, using property, getting a job, providing incentives to work, going to court, building credit and protecting women from violence – the report finds that 90 percent of countries reviewed have at least one law impeding women’s economic opportunities.  The report noted the direct correlation between a woman’s economic empowerment and being protected from violence.

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The Power of Convening: A Reflection on CSW 2016

The Global Rights for Women team spent last week in New York with thousands of women – and some men – who traveled from around the world to attend the United Nations’ 60th annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meeting. This was my first time attending CSW and gathering with such a diverse and energized group of women who are working to promote women’s human rights was deeply inspiring and informative. The insights gleaned from CSW 2016 provide us with excellent guidance as Global Rights for Women looks toward the future of growing and deepening our work on violence against women and girls (VAWG) around the world.

Emerging from the many conversations, panels and connections at CSW I was struck by two key takeaways. First, violence and coercion against women by men thrives around the world. Female to female alliances, with the support of critical male allies, is a powerful force to counter this violence. Second, women who are working within their own organizations and communities to combat VAWG have a deep need for convening and connection with other women doing similar work.

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Cyber Violence against Women and Girls: Is this thing on?

This post is part of an ongoing series on the intersection of law and how it interacts with violence against women, illuminating how it is equally critical to make effective implementation of law, as well as the legislation itself, a priority. For background and the inspiration of this series, start here

Violence against women and girls takes many ugly forms. The most common form is often cited as direct physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner, experienced by an estimated 35% of women worldwide. Though effective implementation is often a problem, many countries offer at least some legal protection from physical intimate partner violence. But what happens when an abuser is hiding behind the keyboard of a computer? With the spread of information and communication technologies (ICTs), humans across the globe are more connected than ever. While ICTs provide new resources in the fight to end violence against women and girls (VAWG), like apps that help women get home safely, they also create a new set of problems.

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The intersection of violence against women and the law

In an ongoing series, Global Rights for Women will begin to shed light on the intersection of law and how it interacts with violence against women, illuminating how it is equally critical to make effective implementation of laws a priority. It is our goal to increase awareness and provide different perspectives about the impact of laws on women around the world. Gender-based violence takes many forms and functioning legislation is the bedrock through which the rest of the system and the public must operate to keep women safe. However, in almost every country in the world, laws also function to discriminate against and harm women. Therefore, laws must be refined to affirm and enforce women’s rights unequivocally. Sharing these perspectives is critical to realizing our mission of promoting women’s human rights to equality and freedom from violence through legal reform and systems change.

Laws have the power to shape public discourse and change cultural attitudes. For centuries, violence against women, specifically in intimate relationships, was a right men openly exercised. But in 1871, the Supreme Court of Alabama became the first court to directly rescind the legal right of men to beat their wives. Thereafter, Maryland became the first state to pass a law making wife-beating a crime in 1882. Then, forty years ago in the United States, the women’s liberation movement was successful in passing first-of-their-kind domestic violence laws, providing civil orders of protection for victims. In this country, most laws permit victims to obtain restraining orders, eviction of the abuser from the victim’s residence, no-contact or stay-away mandates, child and spousal awards and custody provisions, among other critical things to staying safe. Continue reading