3. Violence against women

IDevice Icon Discrimination and inequality are at the root of violence against women
Historically women have been seen as less important than men; lower than them; of less value than men politically, socially, economically and culturally. In the past both law and custom made women the property of men. Wherever social attitudes devalue women, violence against women is more likely to be tolerated or less likely to be punished. Arguments to justify violent methods to ‘keep women in their place' and to assert male dominance may call upon ‘religious principles', or ‘cultural traditions'. Until recently, domestic violence in the some Western countries was seen as a ‘private matter' outside the power of the law to intervene. Indeed, it was only after years of campaigning by women's groups and human rights organisations that domestic violence was criminalised and taken seriously.

IDevice Icon Discussion


Read the following set of controversial statements about gender and violence against women and girls. Do you agree or disagree, or don’t know? Justify your position.


  • Violence against women is really not a problem in Spain. Women enjoy equal rights here, don't they?
  • Girls are less valued than boys in all societies.
  • Men are naturally more physically aggressive than women.
  • Girls who flirt or get drunk are ‘asking for it'.
  • In China and India there are equal numbers of boy babies and girl babies.
  • In Europe more women aged from 16 to 44 die (or are severely disabled) from heart attacks, cancer or from traffic accidents than from domestic violence.
  • Men prefer submissive women.
  • Men who are violent towards women are emotionally immature.
  • Few women and girls in this country have experienced severe beating, rape or sexual abuse.


IDevice Icon Facts about violence against women
‘Violence against women is perhaps the most shameful human rights violation, and it is perhaps the most pervasive. It knows no boundaries of geography, culture or wealth. As long as it continues, we cannot claim to be making real progress towards equality, development and peace.’
Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General

iDevice icon Question 1
Define ‘violence against women’ in your own words. Discuss answers with the group.
iDevice icon Question 2
Does violence against women and girls occur in only some countries, or affect only certain groups of women? Can you mention any examples you have heard or read about?
iDevice icon Question 3
What are, in your opinion, the causes of violence against women?
iDevice icon Question 4

Violence against women includes, among others, violence in the family, at work and in the community, and in armed conflicts. How many instances do you know?


Violence in the family:

Violence at work/in the community:

Violence in armed conflicts:

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AngloTIC Learning Objects 2011 Sergio Maruenda Bataller & Begoña Clavel Arroitia