CategoryFay Gale Lectures
International relations scholars as well as psychologists have recently claimed that violence – defined largely as homicide and casualties from war – is in steep decline. On these accounts, human beings are becoming more civilized. However, research dedicated to making the case for decline with reference to historical and quantitative data has almost completely neglected evidence of gendered violence. Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) has been largely invisible, silent and unreported yet prevalence surveys reveal that the majority of women and girls in every country, that is, a large proportion of the total world population, have experienced this form of violence. According to the cross-national International Violence against Women survey (IVAWS) the number of women who have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since age sixteen is between 20 and 60 per cent with an average victimization rate of over 35 per cent. Moreover, declinist perspectives on violence and war seem to go against contemporary reporting of widespread and systematic SGBV especially targeting civilians in genocide, conflict and mass atrocity situations. Violence against women and girls (VAWG) has been the subject of nearly four decades of feminist scholarship, activism and policy interventions. Analysing global violence from a feminist perspective on VAWG radically challenges declinist views and our understanding of the causes, justifications, and consequences of violence.