Community Involvement and Engagement in Ending Women's Sexual Violence - Free Paper Example

Published: 2024-01-17
Community Involvement and Engagement in Ending Women's Sexual Violence - Free Paper Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Women Violence Community
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1843 words
16 min read


Violence against women has existed for centuries and affects women regardless of their age, social status, or civil status; its manifestations can be made visible both in the sphere of public and private life. It has been and still is, the most hidden, silenced, and accepted violence in cultures and societies. It is only recently that this problem has a regulation that qualifies it as a crime and as a violation of human rights (Oram et al., 160). One of the best ways of eradicating violence against women is to involve the community in fighting against the practice.

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Violence Against Women

Violence is defined as the use of coercive or improper forms of power to damage, pressure, or subdue the will of the people based on the interests of the person or institutions that have power (Oram et al., 160). For its part, gender-based violence encompasses all those situations of violence that particularly or disproportionately affect people, women or men, because of their sex. This concept places violence in the context of gender-related inequality, as acts that women suffer because of their social position of subordination concerning men. When gender violence takes place within the home or the family, it is referred to as domestic violence or intra-family violence (WHO, 12). This has undoubtedly been the most hidden violence against women because it is perpetrated by people close to them, and it is the type of violence that most affects women. Other forms of violence against women include sexual abuse and physical abuse.

The structural causes of gender-based violence against women are associated with the system of values, norms, and practices that sustain relations of inequality, domination, subordination, and discrimination against women and other members of society who are less socially or culturally valued (Oram et al., 164). This violence is based on privileges and the exaltation of masculinity and is based on socialization practices sexist evaluations and cultural, social, and legal impunity. The construction of gender identities, which means being a woman or a man in a given society, is a risk factor to consider both in the predisposition to exercise and to suffer violence.

Undoubtedly, it is essential for any society to vigorously confront this terrible scourge. Violence against women is the most frequent covert crime in the world. It is a violation of the most fundamental human rights of women: the right to life, personal, social, and emotional integrity, dignity, and freedom; and it is one of the most widespread public health problems (WHO 45). It has serious consequences on the health and physical, psychological, social, and economic well-being of women. It affects their daily life, their relationships, their work and study, and their sexual and reproductive health, and has serious repercussions on their emotional and social life (Sovann 300). Besides the high personal cost, it implies a high cost at the family level. Girls who have suffered or have witnessed violence may reproduce these patterns of behavior in their adult lives. The social cost to society as a whole is difficult to estimate, but it is certainly extremely high. It is therefore important to eliminate any form of violence against women and one of the most effective ways is through community engagement and participation.

Community Engagement and Interventions Against Women Violence

Community interventions do not start from a zero degree of organization, but rather, starting from what exists, collectively identify what can be improved, what must be changed, and what must be created to optimize the social response to a given problem - in the case at hand, violence against women (Daruwalla et al., 743). The participatory diagnosis implies the approach between organizations, the State, and other groups in a community to prioritize the main problems related to violence against women.

In the process of community involvement, it is important to gather the available information and scientific evidence with the theoretical, empirical, and experiential knowledge of all those involved in the subject (Mayo and Deboshree 18). From the diagnosis, the aspects of the topic to be treated will be prioritized and a selection will be made to begin to address some of them. Diagnosis and prioritization present two great challenges. On the one hand, the institutions and relevant actors of a community feel called upon by the initiative and ensure their participation, even when their political or partisan orientations are contrasting. This implies convening and engaging everyone who works on issues related to violence against women (protection and health services, the police, the judiciary system, and the community at large). At times, these actors are often reluctant to work in a network.

Secondly, it is necessary to have the presence and participation of the victims from the community, which constitutes a double challenge: they come closer and make their voices heard (Minckas et al., 1). For this, it is necessary, on the one hand, to generate a broad call in different areas where the victims are (community organizations, self-help centers, among others) and on the other, that when the victims come forward, the world can offer them spaces where reflection is combined with relaxation, where they gradually acquire the confidence to talk about the issues that concern them, and where the confidentiality of what they decide to share is taken care of.

After the diagnostic stage, it is important to hold training meetings between technical and non-technical teams, youth groups, State workers, community leaders, researchers, teachers, and professionals to agree on a look, establish roles and responsibilities, and generate a collective action plan (McCauley et al., 1925). In these meetings, inputs are provided to define the problem to be worked on, as well as resources and tools to design and implement actions at the local level.

It is important to have a shared look that transcends the differences of the organizations that make up a community. This is not easy to achieve because opposing interests often appear in community ties, as well as heterogeneous rationalities and ways of doing things, which imply the existence of conflicts crossed by power relations between actors and institutions that coexist in a territory. Notwithstanding this, it is proposed here to promote positive links between the social groups working together to end violence against women. It seeks to maximize the potential of collaborative work while minimizing the influence of particular interests.

In the training and organization meetings, it is possible to work with victims of abuse in shared sessions or separately. It is important to generate spaces that make sense for the victim, proposals that dialogue with their projects and needs, showing an openness in the ability to listen (Levine 90). There are multiple techniques to facilitate the training and production of knowledge: dynamics to experience specific situations, critical analysis using audiovisual resources, and group reflection for the presentation of cases, among others. Within the meetings, it is positive to incorporate some moments of evaluation or feedback to adjust the methodologies and content.

Another step involves the communication of the project to community actors and related institutions. The communication of the project involves two main aspects: on the one hand, the installation of the issue in the community (violence against women) to problematize it and begin to de-naturalize it, and on the other, the awareness to achieve commitment by community organizations and state institutions at its different levels (municipal, provincial, national) (Minckas et al., 1). This involves actions ranging from the presentation of the violence issue and its objectives to different stakeholders (local government, health services, schools, and the community through a public event) to the call to participate in the activities carried out within the framework of the same, as well as the messages of promotion and prevention that are designed. The installation of an issue such as violence against women in the community is a central step both for preventing new cases and improving response systems, as well as demanding the State to enforce the rights of victims. The unveiling of what is not talked about carried out collectively, is a powerful instrument in the processes of change.

The objectives of communicating the violence issue are to, first, present the project to community organizations and institutions to achieve their commitment to the issue. Secondly, disseminate the project and its objectives in the community through local media and social networks to denature the issue of violence against women and sensitize the community. Thirdly, design communication strategies aimed at different groups in the community, to denature sexual abuse against women and to commit the greatest number of families to its eradication. Fourth, design messages for the prevention of violence against women and the promotion of women's rights in general (Rai 700). Fifth, distribute printed material in the community for institutions and businesses to display in their spaces, in such a way as to engage them in the fight against the silencing and naturalization of violence against women.

Another strategy for involving and engaging the community is working in schools, colleges, and universities. Given that the school is a fundamental institution in the training of girls, boys, and adolescents, the work in the promotion and education about women violence from the community model proposed by this research conceives the school as one of its key spaces for action. From this perspective, gender and women violence at school allows adolescents to pass from the category of evaluated objects to that of subjects with capacities and potential for action that can and should, be set in motion (WHO). It offers the possibility of reversing the traditional educator/learner binomial through a dialogic relationship, understanding that knowledge is shared between teachers and students and, therefore, both are essential to building preventive and care practices.

The actions that are carried out in the school are complemented by those that can be carried out in community settings, which together will contribute to sensitizing the population and denaturalizing situations that generate suffering and that are silenced, as is the case of violence against women. Through these actions, the aim is to provide the populations with tools for solving problems, decision-making, and participatory methodologies as a means to strengthen them (WHO). When designing any activity, participatory action planning tools must be taken into account to define what is to be done, what is the objective, to whom it is directed, how the participants will be convened, what work dynamics they will be used, where and when it will be carried out, what financial resources will be needed, as well as how the action will be recorded or evaluated.

Both the complexity of violence against women and the regulations enacted to prevent and eradicate it, require the incorporation and the sum of the will of multiple sectors, at all geographic and political-administrative levels. The experiences of the most diverse organizations indicate that no sector or entity by itself, or working in isolation, has the possibility of influencing the elimination of violence against women (Swaine 42). The success of some initiatives is attributable to the close coordination that they managed to establish with community leaders, and governmental and non-governmental institutions located in the communities where they operated.

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