It does not make sense that a few hormones in your body can determine on which side of a GBV wall you are going to stay. Which character in a VAWG ”show ” you are going to play. Which role in 1 in 3 you are going to have. And yet it is like that.
A bartender is preparing a next shake not having a clue that ethanol and testosteron do not work that well together. No one told them in school. Maybe because about testosteron you learn in biology lessons and ethanol is more of a chemistry kind of issue. And yet this special combination of substances fits the best to discussions about culture. Maybe some history as well. People say it is good to learn about history to avoid the same mistakes. But do we ever learn? History obviously repeats itself. And do we learn the right things? Can we live better lives when we have learnt?
I am asking these questions especially on this day. It’s 25th – the Orange day and it is everyone’s turn to inspire freedom from violence against women and girls. And like for example Christmas make people put down weapons and be a family for a while, to me 25th opens space for more reflections about what everyone can do about violence against women and girls. And my answer is – we need to change the culture that perpetuates unequal power relations, the culture that puts one’s happiness, success and self-esteem into a substance.
As long as there is violence against women and girls – there is no equality. As long as a few hormones are going to determine whether you should be alert when walking alone, we have not made any progress and human kind has failed history lessons.
By this occasion I have read very recent WHO’s report “Global and regional estimates of violence against women: prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence“.
The report is very clear on two different aspects: Alcohol is a facilitator of men’s use of violence (p. 24) and alcohol use is a consequence of an experience of sexual violence.
Men who use violence against their female partners are more likely to be using alcohol (p.22) and women who have experienced non partner sexual violence will 2.3 times more likely develop alcohol use disorder (p.2). The third dimension to it is women’s consumption of alcohol prior to the experience of violence. Women who binge drink are more likely to report violent abuse and in some cases women’s alcohol consumption may result in violent abuse because their partner believe that they should not use alcohol (p.24). As we can see the combinations are manifold but alcohol as a denominator is evident.
It stands clearly in the report: ”Public health programming needs to address alcohol use in prevention and treatment of intimate partner violence, and experiences of violence need to be addressed in alcohol misuse programmes” (p. 24). It is in place to congratulate WHO as it is one of the very few institutions that address alcohol use when discussing prevention of gender based violence (intimate and non-partner violence).
The following conclusion in the report makes me especially pleased: ”This evidence highlights the need to address the economic and sociocultural factors that foster a culture of violence against women (…) Interventions for prevention include:
- Challenging social norms that support male authority and control over women and that condone violence against women;
- Reducing levels of childhood exposure to violence;
- Reforming discriminatory family law;
- Strengthening women’s economic rights;
- Eliminating gender inequalities in access to formal wage employment and secondary education;
- and, at an individual level, addressing harmful use of alcohol.
- Growing evidence from surveys of men asking about perpetration of rape/sexual assault against non-partners, and physical and sexual violence against partners, also points to the need to address social and cultural norms around masculinity, gender power relationships and violence.” (p.36)
I am proud to say the work of members in IOGT International covers at least 5 of the 7 points above. By challenging alcohol industry’s marketing approaches, by working with and for children of alcoholics, by empowering women and girls and questioning alcohol norm IOGT International has been for years contributing to prevention of violence against women and girls. And we need to keep up the work. It’s now when our approach to prevention of Gender Based Violence begins to be recognized and we have the momentum to change the culture.
How about an orange drink, a truly Magic Drink, for an Orange day? Cheers to inspire freedom – together for women and girls.