Any form of violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately. Gender-based violence against women is a form of discrimination and a violation of their fundamental freedoms and rights. It includes all acts of violence against women that result in, or are likely to result in, physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.
Gender-based violence includes forms of violence, such as violence in close relationships, sexual violence (including rape, sexual assault and harassment), psychological and economic violence, trafficking in women, forced prostitution, slavery, and different forms of harmful practices, such as child and/or forced marriages, female genital mutilation, crimes committed in the name of so-called honour, forced abortion, forced pregnancy and forced sterilisation.
Gender-based violence against women is based on hierarchical and unequal structural power relations rooted in culture-related gender norms. It also reveals domination in the symbolic and cultural order, and often manifests itself in direct violence. This definition highlights the fact that violence against women is based on gender, aims at making the historical power imbalance between women and men more visible, and tries to capture the oppressive pattern of coercive control which deprives women of fundamental freedoms.
See also: violence against women; victim; survivor
(1) Council of Europe (2011). Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence and its Explanatory Memorandum. Council of Europe Treaty Series No 210; (2) United Nations (2013). Ending Violence against Women and Girls: Programming Essentials. Available at: