The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women defines violence against women, or VAW, as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.” All forms of gender-based violence are driven by gender inequalities and unequal power relations. In this course, we focus on VAW because it is the most common form of gender-based violence worldwide.
Women experience various types of violence throughout their lives in every country in the world. The 2018 global violence against women prevalence estimates show that, on average, 31% of women ages 15–49 had experienced physical or sexual IPV, sexual violence from an acquaintance or stranger, or both in their lifetime.
We often talk about four different ways in which VAW is manifested including:
Although they are listed as discrete categories, these types of violence often occur together.