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Examining Social Norms and Beliefs About Gender-Based Violence

Gender-Based Violence(GBV) is a violation of human rights that affects one in three women globally, these include intimate partner violence, physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and economic violence. Gender-Based Violence involves power used to control women and girls. Social norms have exacerbated toxic masculinity, leading some men to engage in violence even when they may not desire to do so. This encourages men to adopt traits of toughness, aggression, and violence, particularly directly towards women.   These actions restrict women’s freedoms and deprive them of their rights. Additionally, they hinder women from accessing various opportunities, such as educational and economic opportunities. There is a pressing need to raise awareness about how these social norms perpetuate gender-based violence (GBV).

On Tuesday, 12/12/2023 WOUGNET conducted a Twitter space to understand how social norms and beliefs perpetuate Gender Based Violence in the communities we live in.

What perpetuates Gender-Based Violence 

Gender-Based Violence manifests itself at various levels such as:- at 

Individual level: This is where someone witnesses martial violence as a child, for example beating up a woman in the presence of her child affects the child psychologically and the child may grow up thinking it’s normal to be violent. Additionally, a father neglecting and fails to take care of a child thus depriving him/her of his right as a child.

Relationship level: In many families, men predominantly wield control over wealth and decision-making. In certain societies, girls are often denied entitlement to share/own properties or land under the presumption that they will marry into another family, thereby violating their rights to property ownership.

Community level: Associating with peers who cause violence may influence someone else to be violent too. 

Society level: These includes social norms that grant men control over female behavior. 

National level: It involves resources being withheld by the government which is meant to fund policies that work against violence against women. To add on that, there is under-representation of women in power which affects change due to lack of presentation and review of policies.


Furthermore, cultural norms and gender stereotypes perpetuate the belief in traditional gender roles, prescribing distinct behaviors for women and men. Limited understanding of gender-based violence, its consequences, and certain policies that hinder efforts against it further exacerbate the issue. Additionally, the normalization of gender-based violence continues to sustain its prevalence

Way forward

The government should strengthen policies put in place to fight GBV. In addition, the government should also protect victims who report violence.
Often, when victims report abuse, they may find there is no shelter available for them, leaving them trapped in their homes with their violent partners. Therefore, with the protection provided by the government, they will feel safer

There is a critical need for widespread awareness regarding gender-based violence (GBV), as well as knowledge about policies aimed at combating it and resources available for reporting incidents in case someone becomes a victim

There is a critical need to enhance movement-building efforts to address gender-based violence (GBV) and seek effective solutions. Furthermore, it is also essential to convene diverse stakeholders to collaboratively integrate initiatives aimed at ending GBV, including engaging men in dialogues addressing GBV issues

Author: 
Babirye Roseline, program assistant Gender and ICT Policy Advocacy 

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