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Why Are Women Vulnerable to Domestic Violence?

Global Status of Women

Issue 9, May 2009


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Home Critical Areas of Concern Violence Against Women Why Are Women Vulnerable to Domestic Violence?
Why Are Women Vulnerable to Domestic Violence? Print

Experts believe that women’s unequal status in families and societies contributes to their victimization.  

  • When power relations are uneven, men are able to exert control in a variety of ways.  From threats to actual violence, dependency plays a role.  
  • Women who have little financial or sociocultural autonomy have fewer options in life, including escape from an abusive partner.  
  • Many societies have discriminatory divorce laws and practices, trapping women in abusive marriages or forcing them to choose between marriage and custody of their children.  
  • Domestic violence is often treated as a private matter, exempt from norms and laws that apply to stranger violence.  Victims face stigma not associated with other crimes.  Impunity emboldens perpetrators.
  • Implicit acceptance of violence against women leads victims to vastly underreport instances of abuse.  When they do report abuse, legal mechanisms for remedying the situation are often unavailable – the laws don’t apply or they are unevenly enforced by police and judges.  This creates a vicious cycle where women feel that if they take the risk of speaking out, they will not receive justice, which leads to more instances of domestic violence going unreported.

Amnesty International has described women as being in “double jeopardy” where violence is concerned – overrepresented as victims and underrepresented as decision-makers in society.  They are more likely to be hurt and less likely to receive justice than any other type of victim.

 

Next:  Violence Against Women:  A Universal Problem