Although it may take the form of domestic violence, gender-based violence is not merely a personal or family matter. Associated with certain societies’ social norms and many other risk factors, such violence leads to severe social and economic consequences that can contribute to ongoing poverty in developing and developed countries alike.
Because violence affects everyone, it takes us all—from individuals to communities, and from cities to countries—to tackle the pandemic of violence against our women and girls.
On Day 15 of the global #16Days campaign, let’s take a look at a few examples of how community groups, civil society organizations, and national governments around the world are making informed efforts to prevent and respond to various forms of gender-based violence.
Transforming the conversation about acid attacks through comic books in India and Colombia
As part of the World Bank’s WEvolve Global Initiative, the captivating comic book “Priya’s Mirror” uses storytelling and augmented reality to address gender-based violence. The comic brings attention to the problem of victim-blaming and stigma that acid attack and rape survivors face in India, Colombia, and other countries. It features India’s first female superhero who is a rape survivor that joins forces with other acid attack survivors to overcome stigma in their community. The characters in the comic were inspired by survivors such as Laxmi Saa who have become advocates on this issue. Laxmi, co-founder of Stop Acid Attacks in New Delhi, continues to be an inspiration by opening a chain of cafes owned and run by acid attack survivors. These creative outlets are one method of preventative strategies to spread awareness and serves as an important building block to stop gender-based violence.
Engaging communities on violence prevention in Honduras
Meet Ilsa Sánchez, a 27-year-old survivor of sexual abuse from Honduras. Hear how she redefines herself as a mother and a woman with the help of CEPREV, a psychosocial intervention implemented through the World Bank’s Safer Municipalities Project (SMP) and which takes its name from the institution that developed the intervention, the Violence Prevention Center (CEPREV) in Nicaragua. At the age of 11, Ilsa faced repeated deception by those around her that led to sexual abuse and pregnancy. By participating in CEPREV workshops, she was able to lift herself up to become “a woman of value and self-esteem.” As the Bank’s first project to focus exclusively on violence prevention, the SMP uses various community-based intervention methodologies that have been successful in Honduras and other countries in the world. This initiative features a series of workshops that address the causes and consequences of violence, and aims at transforming the authoritarian family model engrained in the Honduran society into democratic family relations. Under SMP, CEPREV drives a psychosocial intervention in three communities affected by violence, and puts into place different forms of the approach among teachers, the police, community leaders and/or religious groups, government officials, and civil society.
3. Promoting legislation against sexual harassment in education worldwide
Sexual harassment robs far too many girls in school of the chance to study in a safe environment. Using data on laws and regulations, countries and cities are able to recognize how government policies limit women’s full economic participation. Unfortunately, the track record indicates that better laws are still needed worldwide to tackle sexual harassment in education. As the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law data shows, of 173 economies monitored by the report, only 30% have such laws in place. There is a need for comprehensive and effective laws that not only punish the perpetrators, but also offer redress to the victims.
Examples of such laws include Sri Lanka’s Act No. 20, adopted in 1998, which not only prohibits and punishes sexual harassment in education with imprisonment, but also establishes compensation for victims.
Another good example is Bolivia’s 2013 law that establishes penalties for the perpetrators as well as the educational personnel who fail to take action. In December 2014, Mozambique enacted a new penal code including protections against sexual harassment in education and punishing violators with a fine. The same year, Egypt also reformed its legislation, criminalizing sexual harassment in employment, education, and public spaces.