Islam condemns all forms of violence against women. The basic Islamic premise of equality between women and men cannot be achieved so long as violence against women persists.
In pre-Islamic Arabia violence against women began at birth in the form of female infanticide. Islam prohibited the practice of female infanticide. Not only did the Quran prohibit this practice, it also mocks those who view the birth of a girl child with contempt.
Another common form of violence against women is that committed by husbands on their wives. Islam requires that husbands treat their wives with respect and it prohibits any form of physical or emotional abuse. The Quran requires that spouses treat each other with love and mercy. Moreover, the Quran repeatedly warns against the use of injurious statements by a husband against his wife.
Rape, unfortunately, remains a common form of violence against women. In addition, the woman is often blamed for being the victim of rape. Islam views rape as a violent crime against the victim, against society, and against God. The perpetrator has committed a crime and hence is morally and legally responsible. The victim is an unwilling partner in the sex act and thus bears neither blame nor stigma. To either ostracize or condemn the victim because she was compelled to engage in sexual intercourse is against the laws of Islam as the victim was an unwilling, and therefore, a blameless participant.
In addition to the violence that women are subjected to during times of peace, women are particularly vulnerable during times of war. Islam condemns violence against women no matter what the circumstances. War is no exception. Prophet Muhammad was strict in ensuring that noncombatants, primarily women and children, were not harmed during war time.
Female genital mutilation, another form of violence against women, has no basis in Islam. Rather, it is a cultural practice which must be eliminated through education and the empowerment of women.
Likewise, forced prostitution is another form of violence against women with no basis in Islam and which must be eradicated through the empowerment of women.
Islam's mandate of equality between women and men necessitates that all forms of violence against women be eradicated, for so long as women suffer abuses, women cannot achieve their full potential as free and equal members of society.
Intimate partner violence refers to behaviour by an intimate partner or ex-partner that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm, including physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviours.
Sexual violence is any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, or other act directed against a person's sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting. It includes rape, defined as the physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration of the vulva or anus with a penis, other body part or object.
Violence against women (abbreviated VAW) is a term used to collectively refer to violent acts that are primarily or exclusively committed against women. Sometimes considered a hate crime, this type of violence targets a specific group with the victim's gender as a primary motive. This type of violence is gender-based, meaning that the acts of violence are committed against women expressly because they are women, or as a result of patriarchal gender constructs. The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women states that: ‘’Violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women’’ and that ‘’violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.’’
In 1999, the UN designated November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
In 2002, as a follow-up of the WHA declaration in 1996 of violence as a major public health issue, the World Health Organization published the first World Report on Violence and Health, which addressed many types of violence and their impact on public health, including forms of violence affecting women particularly strongly. The report specifically noted the sharp rise in civil society organizations and activities directed at responding to gender-based violence against women from the 1970s to the 1990s.
In 2004, the World Health Organization published its "Multi-country study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence against Women," a study of women's health and domestic violence by surveying over 24,000 women in 10 countries from all regions of the world, which assessed the prevalence & extent of violence against women, particularly violence by intimate partners, and linked this with health outcomes to women as well as documenting strategies & services which women use to cope with intimate-partner violence.
The 2006 UN Secretary General's "In-depth study on all forms of violence against women," the first comprehensive international document on the issue.
The 2011 Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, which is the second regional legally-binding instrument on violence against women and girls.
In 2013, the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) adopted, by consensus, Agreed Conclusions on the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.
Also in 2013, the UN General Assembly passed its first resolution calling for the protection of defenders of women's human rights. The resolution urges states to put in place gender-specific laws and policies for the protection of women's human rights defenders and to ensure that defenders themselves are involved in the design and implementation of these measures, and calls on states to protect women's human rights defenders from reprisals for cooperating with the UN and to ensure their unhindered access to and communication with international human rights bodies and mechanisms.
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