Gender-based violence and tertiary education

Gender-based violence reflects inequality among men and women, and it is observed to exhibit dominance of one gender over another. The male is usually the dominant and more susceptible to inflicting violence on females in general, however, female abusing males are still seen in many instances; especially domestically.  Gender-based violence is defined as the violence directed against a person on the basis of gender and constitutes a breach of integrity, liberty, equality, security, privacy, and overall rights as a person. It includes domestic violence, harassment, sexual violence, slavery and violations of human rights among others, and it has become a widespread issue in the Caribbean.

gender- based violenceAs stated, it is more likely for the females within the society to experience violent acts committed against them as opposed to males. The Council of Europe defines violence against women as ‘all acts of gender-based violence that result in, or are likely to result in, physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life’.

Females are also more likely to experience violence as a result of a dispute within their relationship or social interactions with males, and in an attempt to exercise ‘who is in charge’ or even to ‘discipline one for their wrongs’ disagreements can escalate quickly into violence and abuse. In a survey conducted by the Jamaica Reproductive Health Survey 2008, where a majority of the males admitted to certain situations in which the male can hit his wife, including if she was unfaithful or disobeyed him, as opposed to females; females said under no circumstance should a male hit a woman.

Among Jamaican women who experienced physical or sexual violence which is considered gender-based, during the duration of the study, approximately thirty-seven percent left the situation unreported (in that, they did not tell anyone or seek help about the violence). Of the remaining sixty-three percent who informed the relative officials or told someone, sixty-two percent admitted to telling their friend or a relative about the abuse and thirty one percent sought help from an institution. Gender-based violence was highest in Kingston, Portland, and Clarendon parishes and most prominent among women who had low socioeconomic status and education and involved in long term consensual unions.

Campus life and the college years, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, are supposed to be some of the most exciting, life-changing years of one’s life. Meeting new persons, some of which will become your friends, your rivals, and your partners over a short or long term. These partners will be the best and worst of relationships, and persons often live and learn from the experiences they encounter in having been with certain persons. Unfortunately, some persons are incapable of leaving the past behind them because the emotional and physical scars are too damaging to simply forgive and forget. Gender-based violence is one prominent type of violence among campuses alike, where females are the most subjected and impacted as a result.

A United Nations development specialist reported that between the years 2010 and 2012 the offices of security services filed sixty seven reports of violence against females of the St. Andrew tertiary institutions. The reports more specifically reported that the incidents occurred on the halls, but how many more incidents have gone unreported as a result of females being fearful of the consequences?

In an attempt to decrease these acts against females and to the greater extent, students, the current campus registrar, Dr. Bell-Hutchinson has informed the public that the university has implemented mechanisms (like conflict management) to ensure that violence, especially gender-based violence is prevented. In addition, she states that the university does not have reports of cases on a wide-scale and as such the university is more concerned with male-on-male violence on campus.  Dr. Thame, a lecturer in the Department of Government of UWI Mona, in February 2015 stated that, “Addressing violence in Jamaica requires an assessment of why some groups experience more violence than others – women, homosexuals, working-class men, and children – and why others are more protected (such as middle- and upper-class heterosexual men).”

In light of this, Grant Cummings, development specialist at the Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre, called for females in March 2015 to file a lawsuit against that institution in the event that they believe that their safety is not a sufficient priority by the administration to which governs them at the UWI campus. Grant Cummings’ comments came in the wake of the assault of two female students on the Mona campus in February 2015 as several other female students from the campus took to social media to speak of their own experiences with gender-based violence there.

This issue will not be a thing of the past without those being impacted by gender-based violence taking a stand and speaking out against the abuse. How much longer and how many more persons will continue to be impacted by these acts until something drastic is done?

By : Alexandra Daley

Photo courtesy of who-int

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