Experts on reducing and preventing gender-based violence spoke at a conference in December 2017, run by Christian Aid Ireland in the Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin.
The conference, which received funding from the Irish Research Council, was attended by academics, non-profit organisations, overseas aid charities, Irish Consortium on Gender Based Violence and church representatives.
The event highlighted issues around preventing gender-based violence, including gender inequality, discrimination against LGBTQI, social inclusion of minorities, engaging faith leaders, and offering support to survivors. It featured experts from London, U.S.A, Nicaragua, Zimbabwe and Myanmar.
Rosamond Bennett, Chief Executive of Christian Aid Ireland, recently visited conflict-torn South Sudan, where the incidence of violence against women has escalated. She said: 'One woman told me ‘fear is in my stomach. I know that I will be raped. It will happen when my husband is out or when I am collecting firewood. It’s just a matter of when.'
Rosamond said: 'We want gender-based violence to be prevented. We want survivors, both women and men, to receive support. We want to change the context that leads to gender-based violence taking place. We all have to do better.
'We want everyone to have a full life, regardless of their faith, gender or sexuality; an empowered life, that is free from injustice, inequality and fear.'
According to the UN, 30% of women worldwide will experience some form of physical and or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by a male intimate partner.
Prominent U.S. transgender human rights activist and ethicist, Dr Chloe Schwenke, Director of Global Program on Violence, Rights and Inclusion, International Center for Research on Women, said: 'People who are excluded, yearn for inclusion. People feel entitled to exclude transgender groups. LGBTIQ status or behaviour is criminalised in 75 countries worldwide. Trans people are less than 1% of the population, so it is hard to get funding to examine this area. But we need to look at the day to day experiences of the excluded.'
According to Transgender Europe (TGEU), between the 1st January 2008 and 31st December 2016, there were 2,343 reported killings of trans and gender-diverse people in 69 countries worldwide.
'The reality of transgender people is that in so many countries, we don’t exist in a legal or economic sense. We can’t get jobs, travel, marry…our names aren’t recognised, we don’t exist. It’s a tough place to start to work on gender inequality and exclusion,' said Dr Schwenke.
Dr Aisling Swaine, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Gender Studies, London School of Economics and Political Science said: 'We cannot speak about violence against women in conflict as exceptional, when we tolerate high levels of violence against women in everyday life. Up to 35% of women are exposed to violence on a daily basis. The attention on gender-based violence in conflict settings is important. But unless we see that in ordinary societies the rates are just as significant, then we will never tackle the underlying causes of both kinds of violence.'
Christian Aid Ireland organised the conference under its global strategy, From Violence to Peace, which implements programmes to support people affected by conflict and violence, including gender-based violence.
Pictured with Rosamond Bennett (2nd from left), Chief Executive Officer, Christian Aid Ireland, are speakers, from left, Dr Chloe Schwenke, Director of Global Program on Violence, Rights and Inclusion, International Center for Research on Women, Aisling Swaine, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Gender Studies, London School of Economics and Political Science, and Sian Maseko, Independent Consultant on Gender Equality and Women’s Rights