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Understanding gender-based violence perpetration to create a safer future for women and girls

Posted on September 10, 2013

Source: The Lancet Global Health

Understanding gender-based violence perpetration to create a safer future for women and girls

Michele R Decker, Elizabeth Miller, Samantha Illangasekare, Jay G Silverman 

Worldwide, one in three women experience gender-based violence, which imparts physical, mental, and sexual health morbidities. It also causes mortality—more than a third of homicides of women are attributable to male partners. These data justifiably create global outrage, accentuated by horrific recent high-profile cases, including the brutal gang rape of a student in New Delhi, and the attempted assassination of Pakistani student and education activist Malala Yousafzai. However, mounting of an effective, evidence-based, sustainable response to gender-based violence has proven elusive, partly because of the paucity of data for the population that we need to understand the most: the perpetrators of gender-based violence. Most research into such violence focuses on victimisation, which provides invaluable insight into survivors' experiences, risk factors, and needs for support. However, to put a stop to this global pandemic demands a fundamental understanding, and modification, of the behaviour of gender-based violence perpetrators. Population-based data for men's violence perpetration and its root causes are scarce and are mostly limited to Africa. Analyses of the UN Multi-country Cross-sectional Study on Men and Violence in Asia and the Pacific presented in The Lancet Global Health5, 6 represent a major advancement in that they describe the epidemiology of perpetration of the main forms of gender-based violence—intimate partner violence and non-partner rape—in a large and generalisable sample from the world's most populous region. Such violence perpetration, including rape by multiple perpetrators, was prevalent, with 25—80% of the men studied perpetrating physical, sexual, or both types of intimate partner violence, and 3—27% committing single perpetrator non-partner rape. The findings offer much-needed direction for prevention and intervention.

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