Violence against women

There are many forms of violence against women, including sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, honour-based violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, forced abortion, forced sterilisation, and sex trafficking. Anyone can become a victim of nearly all the above forms of violence, but most often the victim is a woman. Members of minorities are also more vulnerable to violence.

Violence against women is an issue of gender equality, because it is based on unequal power relations between the sexes. That is also why it is considered a specific, widespread human rights issue.

Women typically encounter violence at home, in other private spaces, and at work. The amount of harassment and even violence online is growing.

We know that women are more often victims of recurring violence in relationships than are men. The contributing factors include women’s subordinate position relative to men, which is due to both cultural factors and difference in physical strength. Each year in Finland about 20 women are killed by their current or former partner.

Violence against women is encountered in all social classes. Contrary to popular belief, the perpetrators are not always under the influence of alcohol, nor can they be profiled based on their lifestyle. According to a survey published by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) in 2014, two women out of five (53%) in Finland had experienced some form of psychological violence by their current or previous partner. On average, about 30 percent of women had experienced physical or sexual violence by their current or previous partner. Around 20 percent of women reported having experienced stalking.

The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) was enacted in Finland on 1 August 2015. It covers all forms of violence that target women and girls on the basis of their sex. In Finland it is also applied to men and boys who experience domestic violence. The convention focuses on the prevention of violence, but it also contains obligations for the protection of victims and for the punishment of perpetrators.

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Istanbul Convention