In our quest to understand sexual gender based violence (SGBV) we have to look at the causes. We are now aware that SGBV can manifest itself in isolated acts or systematic patterns of violence, it is not caused by a single factor.The cause of SGBV is a combination of several factors on different levels. There is a so called “ecological framework” that distinguishes factors at four levels: the individual, the relationship, the community, and the structural level.
- The individual-level factors are biological and personal history factors that may increase the risk of violence. For example, often young girls with low education and of low economic status are at risk of being victims of SGBV. This also applies to men with low income and education. An individual’s past experience such as exposure to sexual abuse or intra parental violence during his/her childhood may increase risks of violence in future relationships.
- Relationship- level factors for example family responses to sexual violence that blame the women and concentrate on restoring a lost family honor, rather than blaming the men may end up creating an environment in which rape can occur with impunity.
- Community-level factors are to which extent of tolerance towards SGBV is within social relationships, such as in schools, at the work place or neighborhood. It has been found that when a community together puts in place sanctions against violence, or pose moral pressure on the community to intervene they have the lowest level of intimate partner and sexual violence. Although SGBV manifests itself across all socio-economic groups, it is the poor and vulnerable women that are affected the most by SGBV.
- Society-level factors are the cultural and societal norms that shape the gender roles and the power relation between men and women. Traditional attitudes towards women around the world help perpetuate this violence. Stereotypical roles in which women are seen as subordinate to men especially constrain a woman’s ability to exercise choices that would enable her end the abuse.
In Conclusion, with the ecological framework you can distinguish the different factors that contribute to SGBV in the levels. We may use this to see how too tackle the issue of SGBV, and how you can counter the issue in the different levels. For example just by being aware of different traditional attitudes towards women and realize how they can translate to violence is important or realize that women in poverty need more support and security when it comes to SGBV.
Christina Malmgren – AGCP