Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Gender-based violence

Everyday there is another news story of rape, sexual abuse or (less frequently) domestic abuse.

However, the way gender-based violence is highlighted in the media you would be forgiven for thinking that these are one-off crimes committed by monsters. This is not the reality of gender-based violence.

Believe it or not, before (and since) Jimmy Saville and others at the BBC were accused, women and girls have been subjected to sexual assaults. Before (and following) Steubenville, male students have raped female students.

The media may have you believe that only Asian men ‘groom’ and sexually assault school girls. This, of course, is not the case, but by perpetuating such myths the media fans the fires of racism and intolerance while making such violence seem something that ‘other’ people do. 

And well-respected business men who neighbours report as being ‘lovely’? Well, contrary to media reports,  they did not just get angry one day and ‘flip’. The murders of two women a week are the final acts of control in a lifetime of domestic abuse.

Encouraging society to believe that only ‘beasts’ or ‘monsters’ terrorise, intimidate and abuse women means we are incredulous when ‘ordinary’ men are found guilty of these crimes.

Gender-based violence needs to be reported and understood within the context of what it actually is, a global phenomenon that is both a cause and consequence of gender inequality.

Scotland's Gender-Based Violence Research Network links academics and practitioners from around the UK to organise events in Scotland which consolidate and promote the understanding of gender-based violence.

Last week Professor David Gadd from the University of Manchester came to Scotland to disseminate his ESRC-funded research ‘Boys to Men’. Gadd’s research explores why some boys become domestic abuse perpetrators when others do not, to find out what more can be done to reduce the number of young men who commit domestic abuse. All of his events were oversubscribed with the ‘This is abuse, or is it?’ seminar forced to evolve into a lecture to accommodate the extra 100 people who wished to attend

The second event organised around the project by the network was held at Glasgow Caledonian University ‘Young People and Violence: Research Engagement’. Dr Melanie McCarry (University of Central Lancashire) talked about her earlier research with the NSPCC looking at young people and dating violence. Chief Inspector Graham Goulden provided examples of his work with the Bystander Project (Violence Reduction Unit) and David Gadd spoke about further findings from his research.

The full seminar and lengthy waiting list demonstrated that there is a permanent interest in this topic and always an audience for evidence-based findings. Practitioners and academics came together with the knowledge that gender based violence is a global phenomenon that needs commitment to gendered equality, consistent funding and unfaltering efforts to continue to work towards its eradication. Media representations of the true scale and nature of such violence is one factor that can help us on our way.

Dr Nancy Lombard

Associate Director, Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (CRFR) University of Edinburgh Editorial Board Violence Against Women

The Gender Based Violence Research Network is holding two events in June:

Children, child contact and domestic abuse
£30 lunch, included:

Glasgow Caledonian University, Buchanan House
Tuesday June 18, 2013 9.30 – 1.30

The University of Edinburgh, Appleton Tower
Wednesday June 19, 2013 9.30 – 1.30

Limited places - book online now

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