One in three women worldwide have experienced sexual or physical violence, TCD conference told

One in three women around the world have experienced either sexual or physical violence, an international conference on gender-based violence in Trinity College has heard today.

The majority of those affected experienced violence within their relationship, but it can also be used as a war tactic, speakers at the 'Reducing and Preventing Gender-Based Violence: How Can We Improve Programme Design?' conference have said.

Christian Aid Ireland says it is particularly a problem in developing countries.

Chief executive Rosamond Bennett, who has just returned from South Sudan, said: "I spoke to a women, we were talking about hunger, and she said: 'You know, people think happiness starts int he stomach, because that's where you get your food... but for me, fear starts in the stomach, fear that I am going to be raped when I go for firewood, or raped when my husband goes away'."

Assistant Professor Aisling Swaine said that women are particularly at risk of sexual or physical violence in countries experiencing conflict.

"When I worked in Darfur we had evidence of the ways that the State and different parties to the conflict were attacking villages," she said.

"They would separate men and boys from the woman and girls, they would sexually violate and rape women and girls for the purposes of ethnic cleansing and forced pregnancy, for example, and then kill the men and boys."

Also speaking at the conference was trans woman Dr Chloe Schwenke. She said that trans women in developing countries can experience horrific violence and exclusion.

She outlined "physical violence - 'corrective rape' they would call it - just stone throwing, humiliations, stigmatisation, and then the structural violence of saying 'you don't exist'."

Christian Aid hopes this conference will raise awareness of the gender-based violence.

The organisation says work needs to be done with both the victims and the perpetrators of the violence to try and tackle the problem.


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