Violence Against Women & Girls
“The world of violence against women by men seems almost biological concept of a man’s right
to abuse his intimate partner, based on the notion of ‘God given right’”(Margaret J. Rinck)
Domestic Violence is a global crisis. Some sections of society seem to sanction all forms of
domestic violence including female circumcision, and honour killings.
Many societies in the world view women as lower, less valued group of people.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly 1948 outlines
what is considered to be fundamental harmony in the 21st century, including rights for women.
The Universal Declaration of Human rights put a set of practices in place which tend to protect
all human beings including women around the world.
A significant clause in the UN Declaration includes “no one shall be subject to torture or to cruel
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. (1)
Necessary laws resulting from the UN Declaration have been implemented in the domestic laws
of many countries, to provide adequate measures to tackle these crimes.
The UN clause is based on defining and articulating experiences such as rape, torture and
This recognition of violence against women in the international legal frame, raises expectations
that women can live violent free lives and that they can hold their government accountable for
such crime against them.
However, women are still faced with many forms of violence including trafficking, torture, rape,
kidnapping and murder at the hands of men, even in the developed nations such as US and
Societies such as the USA and UK who preach and demand rights and freedom
for women in other countries, fail to tackle these crimes in their own countries. The international
declaration raised awareness of violence against women and placed issues of justice and
obligations firmly on the table of international relations.
However, with the number of crimes of violence against women being reported around the
world, the Universal Declaration only seems to be a list of abstracts of aspirations and words
without meanings, without foundation in the voices.
This article focuses on violence against women in intimate relationship, domestic violence in
heterosexual relationships in western societies.
The article then raises significant questions of why women stay with their violent partners and
tolerate mental and physical abuse, sometimes for many years.
Domestic Violence –Definition:
Domestic violence in a heterosexual relationship is also known as spousal abuse; intimate
partner violence ( IPV), or interpersonal violence, meaning domestic violence (non sexual)
sexual assault or stalking.The Home Office defines domestic violence as “violence between
current or former partners in an intimate relationship, wherever and whenever the violence
occurs. The violence may include physical, sexual, emotional or financial abuse”.(2)
Even though men, children and the elderly are vulnerable to domestic violence, it is
predominantly women who are the main victims. (1) Generally domestic abuse occurs
when one person (normally the male partner) in an intimate relationship such as in marriage tries
to dominate and control the other partner. There are several documented causes of violence
against women, such as unequal power struggles; the historical power of male dominance
relations between men and women; to cultural or honour ‘izzat’ perceptions.
‘Izzat’ is also known as shame or keeping family honour, by not reporting a crime being
committed within the intimate relationship.
Domestic violence is a domestic matter which, outside knowledge or interference should be
avoided, thus keeping a family’s honour.
‘Izzat’ perspective is most common in Asian societies and the sufferers in these cases
are often women.
General behaviour of the abuser ( normally the male partner), towards his intimate partner
Humiliating or yelling, criticising (making his partner feel embarrassed in front of family
and friends), blaming the victim for his own abusive behaviour; and seeing his victim / partner as
a sex object or property rather than as a person.
Violent behaviours from the male domineering partner include;
Having a bad and unpredictable temper, hurting his partner or threatening to hurt her or
to take the children away or harm them, forcing her to have sex, destroying her belongings,
acting with excessive jealousy and possessiveness, controlling where she goes or what
she does, keeping her from seeing friends and family, constantly checking up on her and last but
not least, control of her finances. Physical Abuse (non sexual) includes pushing, kicking,
strangling, slapping, punching, choking pulling hair, and using household items with which to hit
Domestic Violence – Abuse and effects:
There are three types of non sexual domestic violence according to the Home Office Research
Study 276 (page 2)
Domestic Violence (abuse, threat or force).
Domestic violence ( threat or force)
Domestic Violence (force) – minor / severe.
Sexual Abuse– Sexual abuse is a form of physical abuse in which a woman is forced to
participate in unwanted, unsafe or degrading sexual activities. Forced sex even with a spouse or
intimate partner is an act of aggression and violence, which mentally and physically torments a
woman, which causes a degrading feeling of rape.
Women often participate in loveless sexual activities with their partners out of fear, fearing of
being physically beaten or fearing that further violence will escalate if they do not participate.
Any or all forms of domestic abuse have one purpose by the abuser; to gain and maintain total
control over the victim, his intimate partner. Abusers tend to use many tactics to
dominate or show their power over their victim, including humiliation, isolation,
threats, intimidation, denial and blame.
Dominance – Abusive men need to feel that they are in charge of the relationship. They
tend to make decisions for their abused partners, telling them what they can do
and cannot do and they expect them to obey without question.
Humiliation– An Abuser will do everything that he can to make his victim feel bad about
herself. He tends to use tactics designed to erode the victim’s self –esteem to
make her feel worthless and powerless. If the victim feels worthless than she is less likely to
leave the abuser.
Isolation – In order for the abuser to increase his victim’s dependency on him, the abuser tends
to isolate his victims from the outside world, mainly from friends and family and even work.
This gives the abuser greater powers to control his victim.
Threats – Abusers normally use this tactic to keep their victims from leaving them or to scare
them into dropping charges. They tend to use threats to hurt their victims and/or the children or
other members of the family who are close to the victim. They also tend to use other tactics such
as filing false allegations, in courts or social services if children are involved.
Intimidation – Tactics includes threatening looks, gestures, smashing things, destroying property
or using weapons. The idea is to give their victim clear message to obey or suffer the
Denial and Blame – Abusers are very good at making excuses for their behaviour and
violence toward their victims. They tend not to take the blame but to always find a
way to displace it on to the victims or someone or something else.
In general the abuser treats his victim like a servant, child or a possession; as an object rather
than a person.
Cycle of violence in domestic abuse: (2)
Abuse – The abusive partner lashes out with aggressive and violent behaviour. The abuse is a
display of power designed to scare his partner and to show her ‘ who is the boss’.
Guilt – After abusing his victim, he feels guilty not because of what he has done but
because he is worried about possibility of being caught which might lead to
Normal Behaviour – The abuser does everything he can to regain self-control and keep his
victim in a relationship with him. He may just act as though nothing has happened or start
behaving nicely to his victim, apologising to her and promising that it will never happen again.
He turns on the so-called ‘honeymoon phase’. This makes his victim confused, making
her feel as though the abuser has changed.
Victims of domestic assaults are often mentally and physically abused and under constant fear of
further assaults. They suffer overwhelming inner feelings such as; (3)
a) Feeling afraid of their partner much of the time.
b) Feeling that they cannot do anything right for their partner.
c) Feelings of that they deserve to be mistreated or hurt (taking the blame).
d) Feeling of emotional distress numb and helplessness.
e) Feeling that they might be mad or crazy.
They therefore do not often report this violence. In other cultures not only the abuser dominates
a woman’s life but the shame of honour or ‘izzat’ plays a big role in dominating women in
Women who are mentally and physically abused not only suffer during the time of the
occurrence but also suffer long term health problems such as depression and eating disorders,
miscarriages and other health problems, resulting from sometime many years of mental and
Domestic Violence and the Law in UK:
Domestic Violence in UK (4);
According to Women’s Aid Federation (England) report, 1992,) one in four women
likely to experience violence in their relationship with men.
The report also stated that five out of every hundred marriages suffered severe, repeated and
Findings also highlighted the following;
That one in two women is murdered by their male partners every week.
Also that more than 25% of all violent crime reported to the police is domestic violence
of men against women, making it the second most common violent crime; ( domestic
Violence Action for Change, Hague &E Malos, 1993.)
According to BBC1 TV programme, 1989 called Punching Judy, 100,000 women per
year seek treatment in London for violence injuries which is received in their own homes.
According to a report by ( Domestic Violence of an Inter-Agency Working Party, 1992),
every year 30,000 women and children are forced to stay in refuges or women’s shelter.
Domestic Violence is considered to be growing crisis in the UK and according to a
Parliamentary Report, violence cost the British government 25.3 billion pounds in 2005-
The British Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee, headed by MP Keith Vaz stated that
the real cost is likely to be much higher than the 25.3 billion which includes public services,
losses to the economy and costs to the victims.
Amongst the growing crisis of domestic violence ‘Honour’ (izzat) (5) violence’ is widespread
within the Asian communities and includes Pakistanis, Bangladeshi Muslims and Indian–origin
The Parliamentary report states that the number of those who die in ‘honour killings’ every year
may be far higher than the 12, estimated by the Home Office.
The problems of young British women, as well as some men, who are forced into marrying a
stranger from the country of their origin. Such forced marriages are unhappy and may lead to
domestic violence, often unreported because of deeply –held concepts of ‘not shaming the
family’ or the so called maintenance of the ‘ family honor’/ izzat. A leading Islamic group
admits that more than 70 percent of marriages in the British Muslim community involving a
foreign spouse have elements of being forced into the marriage. ‘Young British Asians are under
pressures from their elders and parents’ and according to the government’s Forced Marriage
Unit, 65 percent of the reported cases involved Pakistanis and 25 percent Bangladeshi nationals.
Other 10% includes Sub Saharan and Middle East countries.
While most in Asian culture agree with the concept of an arranged marriage and that parents are
the best judge of choosing a child’s future partner, the final decision should rest with the
However, this is not always the case and many women find themselves in extreme difficult cross
culture situations especially when they marry men from their home countries.
Many of those men who arrive to the UK after having granted spouse visas enter with little or no
education, therefore job prospects are limited.
Most men who come from abroad have extended family in their home countries that become
dependent on them.
With job prospect limited and pressures of maintain family in the UK and abroad, money
becomes an important issue. As a result, ill treatment or violence against partners to
extort money becomes apparent, especially if they do not earn enough to support the needs of the
family abroad. Women who come from other countries to settle in UK, are also faced with many
form of violence against them by their intimate partners.
Many women who marry men from UK, normally have arranged marriage and often marry
on the basis of seeking a better life in the UK, rather than love. As a result of these arrange
marriages, extended family members i.e. both side of the parents often interfere. These situation
make it difficult for the couple to actually form a relationship based on the old concept of ‘love
grows after you are married’. Again money issues becomes apparent in many of these cases. As
with men who arrive in the UK on spouse visas with little or no education, the women are same.
Women in these situation become totally dependent on their partners. This causes stress
and anxiety which leads to domestic violence within the relationship.
The UK legislation on domestic violence has improved and is constantly being updated.
Remedies of the civil law are generally used to obtain protection for the adult victim
including victims of domestic violence.
Unlike other forms of crime, domestic violence is somewhat a difficult area.
The law itself is not well- developed and the law that exists on this
issue is difficult to utilise. In the past police were reluctant or unwilling to intervene in cases of
domestic violence due to the sensitive nature of the issues, treating it as a ‘family matter’.
However efforts have been made to strengthen the law to provide adequate measures to protect
the victims of domestic violence, in recent years.
As well existing laws, in June 2003 the Home Office published another consultation paper,
setting out proposals to improve measures for tackling domestic violence .The paper suggested
that the Government’s strategy for domestic violence was based on three elements: to prevent
domestic violence occurring or recurring; to increase support for victims; and to ensure improved
legal protection and justice for domestic violence victims.
This led to the implementation of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 which
in came into force in March 2005. The Domestic Violence Act, Crime and Victims Act
2004 (DVCVA 2004) links the civil criminal processes, through the new criminal offence of
breach of a non – molestation order and through new police powers.
It also created a new offence of causing or permitting the death of a child or vulnerable person.
The DVCVA 2004 further created the power for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority
to recover money from offenders, including adopting the notion of victim funds to be financed
by surcharges of fines and penalties. The new act has also made other changes to criminal
procedure, powers and sentencing.
Why women do not leave violent partners – The price of freedom:
Many women suffer violence in silence especially when there are children involved. Being
intimidated and belittled for many years they lose their dignity and self respect and confidence.
Also if they are financially dependent on their abuser, the financial dependency makes it
difficult, court orders for contact makes it even harder for women to leave as well.
Many violent partners use contact proceedings to track down their partners if they leave,
threatening both the children and their partner to come back.
An abuser who is violent against his intimate partner, do so without respect or true love for them.
Therefore leaving the abuser may seem to him as a threat to his manhood, threat to his power of
dominance. An abuser will cause many obstacles to control or bring his intimate partner back.
The phrase ‘ if I can’t have you then no one will have you ‘ is a common word amongst battered
woman or women of domestic violence.
A police research of all domestic murders and assaults in London in 2000-2001 show women
who try to end relationship are frequent victims. (6)
The research states that ‘women who try to leave an abusive partner are at a higher risk,
especially in the first two months after they leave. Victims who try and terminate relationship
with men are frequent murder victims.
It is also highlighted that stalking or abusive behaviour by men is strong indication that they can
show extreme violence and further states that ‘ threats which begins with ‘ if you were to ever
leave me…’ must be taken seriously.’
90,000 reported incidents in 2001 accounted for a quarter of murders and one in every four
incidents of domestic violence were in front of children.
Case of Sabina Akhter a twenty six year old woman who had that courage to separate from her
husband after suffering from abuse (7).
However the price of freedom had to be paid with her life. Sabina Akhter died after being
stubbed by her husband in September 2008.
Sabina Akhter’s husband was arrested prior to the murder but released on police bail because the
police claim they do not have enough evidence to progress the case.
It was claimed that Sabina Akhter’s husband made number of threats before killing her in her
It was also claimed that Under the Human Rights Legislations the authorities have duty to
protect Persons. Sabina Akhter would still be alive if police and prosecution service handled this
case of domestic violence adequately.
Case of two siblings, Liam Hogan (8) and sister Mia Hogan who were pushed off their holiday
apartment by their father, John Hogan. Liam Hogan died as a result of the fall and his sister Mia
survived. Mr. Hogan took the children and deliberately pushed them off the balcony after an
argument with his wife Natasha Hogan. The accused was freed by a Greek Court blaming Mrs.
Hogan for her part in the argument, which had caused her son’s death.
This incident clearly portrays that a man is capable of murdering his own children in order to
control his intimate partner and there is no adequate measures from authorities to protect them.
Another case of a controversial Asian domestic violence ‘Provoked’ (9) book and film based on a
true story of an Indian woman who killed her husband by setting him on fire, after having
suffered ten years of mental and physical abuse.
She was sent to life in prisonment for this murder but was released after campaigns by women’s
group called Southhall Black Sisters.
They argued that the authorities fail to take into account the woman’s history of abuse which
caused her to the extreme of killing her husband.
This was carried out on basis of her mental instability and was not done intentionally which
would be regarded as pre planned murder.
To Sabina Akhter and many other woman like her, Human Rights Legislation is only a list of
abstracts of aspirations and words without meanings, without foundation in the voices. Many
women are being forced to take extreme decisions for their freedom, the rights, their dignity their
The world of violence against women by men seems almost biological concept of a man’s right
to abuse his intimate partner, based on the notion of ‘God given right’(10).
Men in every society, race, religion, culture have the same view and in every society, they abuse
Blame can easily be put on something or some else but it does not justify the ordeals that they
put a woman through. Without question it wrong.
Women have every right to be treated with respect, dignity and honor. According to the United
Nations no human beings should be ill treated, including women.
Even though there is a biological bond between a man and woman who are ‘born free and
equal’ (11) there is the distance of being an enemy within, in an intimate relationship where
domestic violence occurs.
Films such as true story ‘Provoked’ starring Ashwarya Ray and Naveen Andrews and also film,
Sleeping with Enemy, highlights a life of women in domestic violence, the fear and how they are
trapped within relationship with limited means of escape.
There are many women even in the UK, committing suicide as a means to escape violence.
However, not all women are trapped in domestic violence which ends in tradegy. Many do
find ways to escape and start a new life.
Even though there are ‘loopholes’ in the way the law on domestic violence is practiced in the
UK, in reality it is designed to protect women from these situations.
Also not all men are abusers, there are many nice, kind hearted men still in this world. Good and
loving relationship still exist as both sides of the sexes are needed to form a family, have
children, home and security. After all the notion of ‘a man is nothing without his woman and a
woman is nothing without her man’ is a historical concept based on trust, understanding, respect
and honor on both sides.
1-UNDHR Article 5, Domestic Violence against women and girls unicef Innocenti Research Centre Florence, Italy (Innocenti Digest No 6- June 2000 pages 1&2). Too many ‘ignore’ oppression of Women in US – Washington Post Opinion Piece Says -https://www.nationalparntersship.org cited March 2010 / 1- Micheal P. Johnson, Journal of Marriage (Birkbeck School of Law, Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice 2009/10 pages 78– 79) Government Policy on domestic violence at https://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/crimpol/crimreduc/domvilence/domviol98.htm/defining) / other sources for this page includes Home Office Research study 276 page 2, Domestic Violence and Abuse article contributed by Melinda Smith, M.A and Jeanne Segal PhD- https://www.helpguide.org cited 21 march 2010, Too Many ‘ignore’ oppression of Women in US – Washington Post Opinion Piece Says cited 21 march 10 https://www.nationalparntersship.org 2 – Micheal P. Johnson, Journal of Marriage (Birkbeck School of Law, Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice 2009/10 ( pages 288) 3- Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., contributed to this article. Last reviewed: March 2010, https://www.helpguide.org cited cited 1 April 2010 4- UK Statistics on Domestic Violence https://homecybergrrl.com/dv/dody.html(Women’s Aid Federation https://www.women’said.org.uk/, Domestic Action for Change, Hague & Malos 1993, Domestic Violence of an Inter-Agency Working Party, 1992 5- Thainidan News – Domestic ‘honor’ violence cost Britain 25.3 billion pounds (lead) cited 21 March 10 – Article date June 13th 2008 (IANS) https://www.thaindia.com / interviews with domestic violence victims conducted 13 March 2010 Crime and Victims Act 2004Family Law Act 1996Prevention of Harassment Act 1997Davis G & Cretney A, (1996) “Prosecuting Domestic Assault”, Criminal Law Review Mar 162 – 174Ellison L, (2003) ‘Responding to Victim Withdrawal in Domestic Violence Prosecutions” / Government Policy on domestic violence at https://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/crimpol/crimreduc/domvilence/domviol98.htm/defining) / Home Office Research study 276- Domestic Violence, sexual assault and stalking: Finding from the British Crime Survey (Home Office Research, Development Statistics Directorate March 2004), Domestic Violence and Abuse article contributed by Melinda Smith, M.A and Jeanne Segal PhD-https://www.helpguide.org / Women’s Aid & Refuge- Executive Summary: Failure to protect? Domestic Violence and the experiences of abused women and children in the family courts 11.11.03, https://www.womensaid.org.uk/ ’ https://www.InBrief.co.uk ( free legal information) –( ‘What are the laws that are designed to protect against Domestic Violence in the UK) all cited 1 March 2010, 21 March 2010, 25 March 2010 6- Break –ups ‘ spark domestic murders’ - BBC News dated Sunday 22 December 2002 https:// www.news.bb.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2598243.stm cited 21 March 2010. UK Statistics on Domestic Violence https://homecybergrrl.com/dv/dody.html(Women’s Aid Federation https://www.women’said.org.uk/, ( Domestic Action for Change, Hague & Malos 1993, Domestic Violence of an Inter-Agency Working Party, 1992) 7 –Murder of Sabina Akhter (Don’t Blame the police for Sabina Akhter’s murder ) Guardian.co.uk 15 May 2009, https://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/may/15/police-sabina-akhter-murder, Cited 21 March 2010 8- the times online https://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/nes/uk/article628702.ece may 14 2009 cited 21 March 2010) 9- K. Ahluwalia book and film ‘ Provoked’ also on internet cited 21 March 2010 ( James Rossiter Times Online April 3 ,2007) . 10- Margaret J. Rinck (Chritian Men Who Hate Women by Zondervan Publishing House, 1990) Sunshine for Women book review https://www.pinn.net/-sunshine/book-sum/xtian2.html cited 21 March 2010 (article para 1). 11- UN Declaration article 1 (https://un.org/en/document.udhr cited 21 March 2010. / Government Policy on domestic violence at https://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/crimpol/crimreduc/domvilence/domviol98.htm/defining) / Home Office Research study 276- Domestic Violence, sexual assault and stalking: Finding from the British Crime Survey (Home Office Research, Development Statistics Directorate March 2004), Bibliography: Micheal P. Johnson, Journal of Marriage (Birkbeck School of Law, Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice 2009/10 pages 288) The Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Bill is available at https://www.parliament.uk/ Last update: Thursday, August 28, 2008 Home Office Research Study 276 – Domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking: Findings from the British Crime Survey by Sylvia Walby and Jonathan Allen. ( Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate – March 2004) Domestic Violence and Abuse article contributed by Melinda Smith, M.A and Jeanne Segal PhD- https://www.helpguide.org cited 21 March 2010, Findings from the Multi-agency Domestic Violence Murder Reviews in London Prepared for the ACPO Homicide 19/03/03 Too Many ‘ignor’ oppression of Women in US – Washington Post Opinion Piece Says cited 21 March 10 – https://www.nationalparntersship.org UK Statistics on Domestic Violence (https://home.cybergrrl.com/dv/body.html) Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 Family Law Act 1996 Prevention of Harassment Act 1997 Ellison L, (2003) “Responding to Victim Withdrawal in Domestic Violence Prosecutions”, Thainidan News – Domestic ‘honor’ violence cost Britain 25.3 billion pounds (lead) cited 21 march 10 – article date June 13th 2008 (IANS) https://www.thaindia.com Council; United Nations Centre for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs: Violence Against Women in the Family (1989) Sanders A (1988) “Personal Violence and Public Order: The Prosecution of Domestic Violence in England and Wales 16 International Journal of Society Law 359 Subedi S, (1997) “Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence: The Response of International Law”, European Human Rights Law Review 6 587-606 C Mirrless-Black Estimating the extent of domestic violence: findings from the 1992 British Crime Survey (Home Office Research and Statistics Dept, Research Bulletin No 37, Whiting and Birch, 1995 Home Office, Safety and Justice: The Government's Proposals on Domestic Violence (Home Office, London, 2003)