A room full of men and women led for a powerful discussion concerning the violent incidents effecting women, and ways to bridge the gap between implementing laws and preventing violence against women.
Ms. Persson, from Sweden’s Department of Justice, explained eliminating violence against women is a challenge all countries face and share as on going process. Public and private sectors must be involved and reinforce each other in order to prevent violence. Particularly in Sweden, there is a strong gender policy for legislation to address systematic violations (e.g. assault/harassment). The justice system, education, public awareness, and the media are all very forceful tools in preventing and ending violence against women.
Dr. Ozyol, President of the Turkish Federation of Business and Women, clarified that violence against women includes both physical and psychological violence. There are several damaging effects of violence regardless of race, religion, social class, etc. Governments must implement prevention, protection and prosecution measures. Violence against women is a violation of human rights. The ultimate goal is to protect victims of violence and those at risk by providing services and treatment. Also it is important to accept a more comprehensive definition for violence to include economic violence (threatening to cut someone off). In Turkey, standards are in place to make education mandatory for up to twelve years because education is a key factor in stemming the violence against women. Violence against women decreases as education levels increase.
Ms. Leidholdt of Sanctuary for Families spoke of securing laws to prevent and end violence. “It has been learned that the passage of laws in addressing violence does not mean justice will improve or those who harm will be held accountable.” Organizing and implementing a permanent, holistic campaign is required to advance gender equality through legislative advocacy, engagement with justice systems, public education and community organizing. Without an ongoing movement to end violence, gender equality gains will fall short of their goals. Setting new norms and values must be an integral part of the campaign by allowing victims of violence the chance to tell their stories and take the lead.
From the U.S. Department of Justice, Dr. Hanson spoke about the authorization of a federal law in 1994, the violence against women act (VAWA), which provided a consistent way to define violence against women. This act was re-approved by the congress last Thursday, February 28th 2013. Crucial components in implementing laws to end violence involve community coordinated responses with law enforcement, universities, faith leaders, social service providers, prosecutors and treatment providers. Moreover, research has found that more than 200 courts across the country specific to gender based violence are effective in addressing violence against women.
Above all, mandatory education standards would provide girls with resources and information necessary to protect them and give them the confidence to pursue professional careers.
By: Emily Narcessian