Violence against women is a term used by the Scottish Government to define a range of actions which harm or cause suffering and indignity to women and children. They include but are not limited to:
- Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, within the general community or in institutions, including: domestic abuse, rape, incest and child sexual abuse;
- Sexual harrassment and intimidation at work and in the public sphere; commercial sexual exploitation including prostitution, pornography and trafficking;
- Dowry related violence;
- Forced and child marriages;
- Honour crimes
What does gender have to do with it?
These actions are mainly carried out by men against women and children. The different forms of violence have their roots in gender inequality and in the different power relations between men and women in society. They are therefore understood as gender-based violence and are interlinked.
This does not mean that women do not use violence or carry out the actions described above. Nor does it mean that men are not the victims of these actions. It merely recognises that statistically men are commonly the perpetrators and women and children the victims.
More than physical violence
In the context of violence against women, 'violence' has a broader meaning than the normal dictionary definition of violence, which generally requires some form of exertion of physical force. The range of behaviours described above can be physical, but they also include emotional, psycholgical and sexual abuse, and behaviour which is coercive and controlling in nature.