violence against women



Violence against women constitutes a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination against women. Violence against women means all acts of gender-based violence 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.

Forms and manifestations of violence against women are shaped by social and cultural norms as well as by the dynamics of each social, economic and political system. Factors such as women’s racial or ethnic origin, caste, class, migrant or refugee status, age, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, disability or HIV status will influence what forms of violence they suffer and how they experience it.

Generally speaking, the definitions and descriptions of violence against women emphasise that this type of violence is based on gender; therefore, the concepts ‘violence against women’ and ‘gender-based violence’ are often used as synonymous. In some terms, the expression ‘against women’ is used to engender the victims. Other concepts, such as ‘men’s violence against women’, engender both the perpetrators and the victims in order to avoid gender neutrality.

See also: gender-based violence against women; victim; survivor


(1) Council of Europe (2011). Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence and its Explanatory Memorandum. Council of Europe Treaty Series No 10; (2) United Nations (1993). UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. General Assembly Resolution 48/104.

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