Globally, millions of women experience violence — whether in the form of intimate partner violence, rape and sexual coercion, stalking, trafficking, forced prostitution, exploitation of labour, or other violations of women's bodies and psyches.
The high prevalence of violence against women both reflects and reinforces women's lower status in society.
To end the violence against women, we need to confront both the violence directly and the structural causes of women's lower standing that makes women vulnerable to the violence.
A recently published global study of violence against women, examining over 70 countries and spanning 40 years, shows that the strongest predictor of success in reducing violence against women is the mobilisation of a strong feminist movement demanding change.
We need direct campaigns to confront violence against women — for instance, challenging rape culture on campus, in the media and everywhere else; demanding education in school and society to teach the importance of respecting “no” and ensuring consent in every sexual encounter; decriminalisation of sex work, which is less safe the more it is forced underground; and adequate funding and staffing of sexual assault services and refuges.
Coupled with this and equally necessary to put an end to the violence and misogynist assumptions that underpin it is the need to campaign to raise women's economic and social standing.
So we must demand equal pay; raising the pay and status of traditionally female occupations; extending paid maternity leave; free child care for all who need it; affirmative action to attract women to non-traditional jobs; and many other measures, necessary in their own right, but which when put together will raise women's standing and underpins the level of respect and self-respect that violation of any woman becomes unthinkable.
[This is the text of a leaflet distributed by the Socialist Alliance at Reclaim the Night Fremantle on October 26th.]