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Crimes / 06/10/2020

What is gender violence and how does it manifest?

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What is gender violence and how does it manifest?


Achieving gender equality is one of the 17 objectives in the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations (UN), to which Brazil is a signatory. However, our country occupies the 5th place in the ranking of homicide of women and, in the year 2017 alone, more than 260 000 assaults on people due to their gender identity were registered.

Gender-based violence is an evil that affects the dignity and well-being of victims as well as society as a whole. Facing it is a commitment we must make to ensure that everyone has essential rights.

In this content we explain to you the definition of this mode of oppression, its main forms of manifestation and how you can report it!

What is gender?

First of all, do you know how to conceptualize and establish the differences between Gender, Gender identity, sexuality and sex? It is undeniable that in view of so many concepts that seek to make explicit both the identity and the human sexual and behavioral expression, sometimes, a certain confusion may arise when defining them.

In general, for the social sciences, gender refers to a set of particular attributes of masculinity and femininity. In this sense, it is understood that gender is a social construction that does not stem natural aspects.

In other words, the social characteristics between men and women, which define their roles and responsibilities within a society, are not established by sex - as a biological determination - but influenced by culture. That is, gender is a non-static subjective element that refers to being a boy or girl, a man or a woman in a given culture.

In this way, people can identify with different genders than those attributed to them at birth, this is known as gender identity. Sex is defined by the congenital biological characteristics that differentiate men and women. Finally, we have sexuality which corresponds to how the individual may or may not be attracted in a sexual or romantic way by gender.

And what is gender violence?

Gender violence is defined as any type of physical, psychological, sexual or symbolic aggression against someone in a situation of vulnerability due to their gender identity or sexual orientation. According to the global estimate published by the WHO (World Health Organization) in 2017, one in three women worldwide, specifically 35%, have already been victims of physical or sexual violence during their lifetime. Thus, it appears that the people most affected by this coercion are women. However, it is worth remembering that men and sexual and gender minorities can also be targets of these attacks.

In terms of international human rights law, there is no precise definition of what gender violence is, because for a long time, the concept of gender was considered to be synonymous with sex. For this reason, the UN (United Nations) adopts an amplified conception of the definition of violence against women in some international treaties dealing with the theme.

For example, there is the case of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which was promulgated in 1979 by the United Nations and ratified by 188 countries. The regulation, which seeks to establish minimum parameters in state actions to promote women's human rights and repress violations, defines discrimination as:

“Any distinction, exclusion or restriction based on sex and whose object or result is to undermine or annul the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, regardless of their marital status, based on the equality of men and women, human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural and civil fields or in any other field ”(Article 1, CEDAW).

The Inter-American Convention to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Violence Against Women, which took place in 1994 in Belém, Pará and was marked by 32 of the 35 states on the American continent, defined this practice as an offense to human dignity and manifestation of historically unequal power relations between women and men.

Nevertheless, it is emphasized that although the terms are used interchangeably, not every act against women is gender-based violence. This is because in order for an aggression to be classified as gender violence, it must be targeted at the victim due to their sexual or gender identification.

Why does gender violence occur?

To better understand how gender violence occurs, it is first necessary to understand how genders are related and how cultural thought, which has existed for centuries, imposes on victims a social place that promotes the cycle of violence.

Still in the twentieth century, specifically in the 1980s, the word gender became part of the feminist dictionary and, since then, has been the object of study by many social scientists, especially feminist theorists. Pioneeringly, at the beginning of the centenary, anthropologist Margaret Mead stated that the social roles distributed between men and women came precisely sexual differences.

Following the logic, historian Joan Scott defined gender as a category of historical analysis of power relations sustained and constituted by discourse. As the author teaches, there is a “universal tendency to associate the masculine with the culture and to consider that the feminine was closer to nature”. Given the above, it appears that society follows a pattern created historically, preserved by cultural jargon, and that classifies the world in spheres: male and female.

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In this sense, gender relations are established, social links of power between men and women in which each receives a social role according to their sexual differences.

It is not necessary to go far to recognize that a good part of these links reveal the existing inequality between genders by reproducing rigid and discriminatory social patterns that are, for the most part, imperceptible. This happens, for example, when aspects such as heroism, bravery and strength are associated with masculinity while sensitivity, sentimentality and delicacy to femininity.

In addition, social conceptions about the representation of masculinity induces the idea that "men are superior". In this way, a model of “male domination” is created that is encouraged since childhood, as described by anthropologist Pierre Bourdieu, which induces the individual to demonstrate his power of supremacy and control against others endowed with sensitive virility. Therefore, macho social thinking legitimizes the use of violence, whether physical or verbal, as a justification for affirming or reaffirming the hierarchical position of superiority.

And what are the main forms of gender-based violence?

Physical violence

Among all forms of violence, this is probably one of the most common. In it, the aggressor makes use of physical force or objects to physically injure the victim, this can cause scarring and even lead to death. In the latter case, when the crime occurs against a woman because of the condition of being female, there is talk of femicide. This heinous crime is typified in art. 121 of the Brazilian Penal Code.

According to a survey carried out by the Gender and Number organization, in 2017, 225 cases of violence per day against the LGBT + population were recorded, and 67% of victims were women. In another survey carried out in the same year by Transgender Europe (TGEU), it was noted that the country was responsible for more than half of the murders of transgender people worldwide.

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