Feature Article of Monday, 12 November 2012

Columnist: Nyarko, Afia

There are many causes for GBV


If one knows the cause of a problem, he or she will be in a better position of solving it. There are several causes of Gender Based Violence(GBV). GBV is any form of violence (or abuse) directed to any person on the basis of their sex or gender. More emphasis will placed on violence against women as they are the most discriminated and abused gender in our society. According to the World Health Organisation report, the most common forms of violence against women is that performed by husband or male partner.

Religion has been placed as a major root cause of GBV. Most religion have placed women below men, reinforcing patriarchy. When I asked a religious leader why women cannot lead their denomination, he insisted its God's arrangement. Many religions have used the name of God or their deity they worship to subdue, suppress and discriminate against women. According to the Human Rights international, one of the main causes of gender discrimination is religion.

From my junior high school education, I was thought that 'Culture is the way in which people live'. It is the way a group of people do things or believe things should be done in their way. For instance, in some cultures in Northern Ghana, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is still practiced illegally. Such cultural customs encourage masochism and GBV. According to Ghana News Agency, statistics by stakeholders including Social Welfare, Ghana Health Service and the Ghana Education Service indicate that children between the ages of one and 17 years go through the ordeal at Bawku and neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso, Togo or Niger. There are some cultures that still force girls and women into arranged marriages. The women in these marriages are often subjected to all forms of abuse. In some cultures, such as China, the birth of a boy is celebrated whereas the birth of a girl is seen as a disaster. The World Health Organisation declared in 1997 that, "...more than 50 million women were estimated to be 'missing' in China because of the institutionalised killing and neglect of girls due to Beijing's population control program".

Education plays a major role in causing GBV. In many developing countries, women are forced or asked to stay at home to clean or cook, while the men or boy child are sent to school. This even become predominant after marriage or childbirth furthering inequality. These women end up being dependent on these men who take authority over all aspects of their personal life.

Also GBV is highly perpetrated due to deeply ingrained myths about domestic abuse (also known as domestic violence) held as sacred in our predominant societies. There are many myths which triviliase the severity and extent of Domestic violence in our society. In both Western and developing world, it is estimated one in every 4 women has survived an act of domestic violence, often caused by a family member. For instance, most people think it is only women or poor and uneducated women who suffer domestic violence. But the fact is anyone could face domestic abuse irrespective of their gender, financial status or level of education.

Moreover, GBV can be caused by social and political idealisations that certain roles or 'jobs' are for men. Such paranoid ideation discriminate women in family, government or even workplace settings, as the patriarchal society thinks 'headships' or certain jobs are performed best by man.

Patriarchal society refers to a society where men are granted the majority of social and political power. It is very dominant in developing countries and often tends to even favour women who encourage such superiority. Patriarchy encourage sexism, misogyny and gender discrimination in different forms. The most common violation of women rights are perpetrated by patriarchal society.

Outlining these causes should be seen as the basis as you as a reader may have more that what have been listed above. This is meant to bring causes of GBV back into focus to help identify the preventive measures, most importantly, for domestic violence. Gender based violence exists. It is affecting both men and women. The power is in your hands to help stop or prevent it.

Afia Nyarko

Contact: afianyarko@ghanaianfeministsforum.com www.ghanaianfeministsforum.com