VAW: The Issues

The Issues

Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread violations of human rights. It can include physical, sexual, psychological and economic abuse, and it cuts across boundaries of age, race, culture, wealth and geography. It takes place in the home, on the streets, in schools, the workplace, in farm fields, refugee camps, during conflicts and crises. It has many manifestations — from the most universally prevalent forms of domestic and sexual violence, to harmful practices, abuse during pregnancy, so-called honour killings and other types of femicide.

Sexual Abuse within Marriage

Rape and abuse that occurs within marriage often goes unreported and sometimes isn’t recognized by the victim as abuse. In many places around the world, it is assumed by women that enduring sexual abuse within marriage is a spousal obligation and a part of “normal” life. Marriage is often used by perpetrators to legitimize abuse often creates confusion for the victim around issues love, responsibility, and matrimony but is none-the-less a crime.

Son Preference

Son preference is the strong partiality to boys over girls by parents. Son preference often results in the neglect of daughters’ basic needs such as health care, sufficient nutrition, and education. Son preference can lead parents to abort female fetuses or commit female infanticide.

Honor Killings

An honor killing is the murder of a family or clan member justified by a failure to comply with the expectations of the culture, religion or tradition. In many cases the victim is a woman who has been raped, engaged in premarital sex, sought divorce, or refused to marry the man chosen for her, all of which might bring perceived dishonor to their family. Although accusations may not be based on strict, tangible evidence, they often result in violent retaliation and death.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual attention or advancement that may affect one’s ability to function in every day life. Qualifying behavior can be as subtle as an implied comment, but is still considered gender discrimination and often leads to more serious criminal offenses. Situations can vary from involving implied to direct behavior, from targeting one to a group of individuals, or from involving a pattern of behavior to a single incident.


Human Trafficking is a crime against humanity. The act of recruiting, transporting, transfering, harbouring or receiving a person through a use of force, coercion or other means, for the purpose of exploiting them. Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad. Every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims.

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