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close this bookUnderstanding Violence Against Women - A Guide for Media (CMFR - UNFPA, 1998, 31 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentData Card
View the documentI. Women’s Rights are Human Rights: Understanding Violence against Women
View the documentII. Sexism Kills
View the documentIII. Understanding Rape
View the documentIV. Understanding Victimization
View the documentV. The Political Aspect
View the documentVI. The Role of the Media
View the documentVII. Guidelines on the Coverage of Crimes Against Women and Minors
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II. Sexism Kills

The most insidious deception about women’s rights and gender inequalities is that they are trivial or secondary to more pressing concerns of life and death. But the truth is: sexism kills. And it kills girls and women in various ways through different stages of their lives.

o Before birth. Amniocentesis and ultrasounds are used for sex selection, and in cultures where there is a strong preference for sons, this has led to the frequent abortion of female fetuses, resulting in skewed sex ratios in such countries as India, China and Korea.

o During childhood. The World Health Organization reports that in many countries, girls are fed less, breastfed for shorter periods of time, taken to doctors less frequently, and die or are physically and mentally maimed by malnutrition at higher rates than boys.

o In adulthood. The denial of women’s rights to control their bodies in reproduction threatens women’s health and lives, especially where this is combined with poverty and poor health services. In Latin America, complications from illegal abortions are the leading cause of death for women between the ages of 15 and 39. In the Philippines, the most frequently cited cause of death of women in maternity wards of government hospitals is “infection,” often a euphemism for septic abortion.

The most pervasive violation of females is violence against women (VAW) in all its manifestations, from wife battery or domestic (or family) violence, sexual harassment, incest and rape, to dowry deaths, genital mutilation, and female sexual slavery. Others include, as well, pornography and the use of degrading images of women in the media.

In a monograph entitled Gender Violence: A Development and Human Rights Issue, Bunch and Roxanna Carillo assert that “violence against women is a touchstone that illustrates the limited concept of human rights and highlights the political nature of the abuse of women. This is not random violence, the risk factor is being female. Victims are chosen because of their gender. The message is domination: stay in your place or be afraid.”