A Resource Guide to the Video
Violence Against Women a Violation of Human Rights


Précédente Remonter Suivante




A Resource Guide to the Video 

©1999, All Rights Reserved
Institute for Development Training
RFD 1, Box 267 B, Route 230
Trenton, ME  04605, USA
Tel  207-667-7231       Fax 207-667-9041


My heart is in anguish within me
the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling come upon me,
and horror overwhelms me.
And I say, “O that I had wings like a dove!”
And I would fly away and be at rest;
yea, I would wander far,
I would lodge in the wilderness,
I would haste to find me a shelter from
the raging wind and tempest.

It is not an enemy who taunts me—
then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—
then I could hide from him.
But it is you, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend.
We used to hold sweet converse together;
within God’s house we walked in fellowship.

My companion stretched out his hand against his friends,
he violated his covenant.
His speech was smoother than butter,
yet war was in his heart;
his words were softer than oil,
yet there were drawn swords.

  • Psalm 55 RSV        

Inanna LaFevre

“This in turn requires of us that we risk the difficult task of continuing to speak vulnerably and personally about our own life and the lives of other women, while rejecting tendencies toward victimization, bitterness, self-pity, or self-indulgence. To unveil the damage caused by systemized cruelty, stultification, indifference, and daily denials of one’s humanity is itself a painful and dangerous act; to do so while refusing to become obsessed with the atrocities committed against one’s self and one’s people is an even more arduous challenge.”

  • Robin Morgan
    from The Anatomy of Freedom: Feminism,
    Physics and Global Politics, 1982

The Institute for Development Training
212 East Rosemary Street
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 27514 USA
© Copyright 1997 The Institute for Development Training.
All rights reserved.


Violence against women is a universal problem that daily affects millions of women of every age, race and class. The scope and severity of this gender violence is testament to the low status of women throughout the world. In almost every society on earth women live in fear of male violence, and limit and shape their lives according to this fear. The violence to which women are subjected includes overt physical acts such as murder, rape, battery, incest, and sexual abuse; psychological abuses such as harassment, intimidation, threats, belittling, and other verbal assaults; and institutional and social violence such as genital mutilation, wife burning, female infanticide, discrimination and neglect.

Most of the violence to which women are subjected is socially, culturally and even legally condoned. But because gender violence is such an accepted part of the fabric of life in most countries there has been little concerted effort to honestly address the problem at national and international levels.

According to Charlotte Bunch, “Gender violence is the most pervasive and insidious human rights abuse in the world....If any other group were so systematically tortured, battered, and killed, society would declare a civil emergency.”1 U.S. Senator Joseph Biden made this statement: “If the leading newspapers were to announce tomorrow a new disease that, over the past year had afflicted from 3 to 4 million citizens, few would fail to appreciate the seriousness of the illness. Yet when it comes to the 3 to 4 million women who are victimized by violence each year the alarms ring softly.”2

The disease Biden is referring to is domestic violence. In the United States a woman is beaten every fifteen seconds; and four women are killed by their batterers every day.3 According to former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, domestic violence is a leading cause of injury to women. In a study among low income women in Philadelphia, domestic violence was found to be the leading cause of injury between the ages of fifteen and forty-four, more common than automobile accidents, muggings and cancer deaths combined.4

Gender violence is a global tragedy which has many faces. It is an international pandemic on the scope of AIDS. As health professionals, people of faith, or concerned citizens, we must demand that violence against women be treated as a human rights violation with major public health consequences.

As Dr. Koop stated so clearly:

“Violence against females is everyone’s responsibility. It is the responsibility of governments at the national, state and community levels. It is the responsibility of legislators and parliamentarians, city and village councils or panchayat leaders. It is the responsibility of the health professionals, including doctors, nurses and other health professionals as well as hospitals and clinics. It is the responsibility of educational institutions and educators; the communications media; the church and clergy." 5

This guide expands on issues raised by women in the video, Violence Against Women:  A Violation of Human Rights. It places violence against women in the context of a public health problem by addressing the mental and physical health consequences women experience as a result of violence. It also includes informational resources, ideas for action, and organizations to contact. Our intent is to provide information and ideas that will encourage and assist efforts to eliminate violence against women at all levels around the world.

  • Inanna LaFevre


The many forms of violence against women are interrelated in complex cycles of cause and effect and do not fall into neat separate categories. However, for the sake of organization this guide is divided into four main themes: Domestic Violence, Rape and Other Sexual Crimes, Economic and Legal Discrimination, and Genital Mutilation.  Appendices follow that provide information on organizations working to confront violence against women.


1. Domestic Violence
2. Rape and other Sexual Crimes

3. Economic and Legal Discrimination
4. Genital Mutilation

     Men Working to Stop Violence
     Clergy and Churches Confront Violence
     Women Taking Action
     More Organizations
     The Legal Front
     Internet Resources


About the Hearing
     List of Presenters
          (video - women who testified)




“Battery is the most significant cause of injury to women in this country. It is ironic that the first shelter for battered women was created 100 years after the congressional law to prevent cruelty to animals was passed.”

  • C. Everett Koop U.S. Public Health Service 1989

Today, animals in the United States are still given better protection than women. Although up to fifty percent of homeless women and children in this country are fleeing domestic violence, there are three times as many animal shelters as there are shelters for battered women.6 Abusing an animal is always considered a felony, however, even though “injuries that battered women receive are at least as serious as injuries suffered in 90% of violent felony crimes, under state laws they are almost always classified as misdemeanors.”7

The following example from Oklahoma clearly shows how laws reflect national attitudes. Police sergeant Wayne M. Hlinicky faces a possible five years in prison, a $5,000 fine, and discharge from the police force for allegedly kicking a cat. Meanwhile, Sergeant Aaron Watson may only face ninety days in jail for reportedly shoving his girlfriend’s head against a wall, kicking her, and dragging her by the hair. 8

It is difficult to categorize the types of violence women experience, because there is much crossover between them. Domestic violence, the subject of this chapter, is not limited to assault and battery. It can also include rape, verbal abuse and intimidation, and economic and psychological control, among other things. While all of these forms of violence take place within the domestic sphere, they are certainly not limited to that realm. Women can and do suffer these abuses at the hands of strangers as well as family members.

The American Medical Association characterizes domestic violence as a “pattern of coercive behaviors that may include repeated battering and injury, psychological abuse, sexual assault, progressive social isolation, deprivation, and intimidation. These behaviors are perpetrated by someone who is or was involved in an intimate relationship with the victim. Although some women are successful in escaping a violent relationship after the first assault, most abuse is recurrent and escalates in both frequency and severity. In addition, a woman’s independence may be compromised by her partner’s need to dominate her and control many aspects of her life: He may restrict her access to food, clothing, money, friends, transportation, health care, social services or employment.”9

Probably the most common form of domestic violence is battering or “wife beating.” This is such a common occurrence worldwide that many people consider it normal or inevitable as the following comments reflect:

“In some parts of our country wife beating is so common that women begin to worry if their husband doesn’t beat them. They think maybe he doesn’t love them anymore or he has another woman.”10

In Papua New Guinea during a parliamentary debate on wife beating a parliamentarian made this comment:  “Wife beating is an accepted custom. We are wasting our time debating this issue.”11

Some men in the U.S. now proudly threaten their partners with this jeer:  “I will O. J. you if you don’t watch out.”12

A man in the U.S. who admits to beating his wife made this comment:  “Every once in a while you have to take her on a little trip to knuckle junction. When she comes back she is just like she was on the honeymoon.”13

These statistics from around the world give some indication of the scope of this problem:

In Beijing a recent survey revealed that 23% of husbands have beaten their wives.14

In Uganda 46% of women are beaten by their partners.*

In Tanzania 60% of women report physical abuse by their partners.*

In Kenya 42% of women are “beaten regularly.”*

In Sri Lanka 60% of women are beaten; 51% reported husband uses weapons.*

In Papua New Guinea 67% of rural women, 56% of low income urban women and 62% of urban elite women are beaten.*

In India 75% of scheduled caste women report being beaten “frequently.”*

In Japan 58.8% of women report physical abuse by their partner, 65.7% emotional abuse, 59.4% sexual abuse.*

In Mexico 56.7% of urban women and 44.2% of rural women experienced “interpersonal violence”*

Most official statistics are taken from national crime surveys which largely rely on FBI, police and emergency room reports. However, many women never report their experiences except maybe to friends, family, clergy, etc. Even when reporting to hospitals and doctors for care, women often cite reasons other than domestic violence for their injuries out of shame or fear. In many cases they think they will not be believed, especially if the perpetrator is a well known and respected person in the community (i.e., Nicole Brown Simpson and other celebrity wives).

The following statistics reflect the nature of domestic violence in the U.S.16

There are at least four million reported incidents of domestic violence against women every year. Almost 20% of these are aggravated assaults in the home.

Women are six times more likely than men to be victims of violent crime in an intimate relationship. In 1991, more than 90 women were murdered every week. Nine out of ten were murdered by men.

Weapons are used in 30% of domestic violence incidents.

In 95% of all domestic violence assaults, crimes are committed by men against women.

Although more than one million women seek medical treatment each year for injuries caused by their husbands, ex-husbands or boyfriends, doctors correctly identify the injuries as resulting from battering only 4% of the time.

Medical expenses from domestic violence total at least three to five billion dollars annually. Businesses forfeit another hundred million in lost wages, sick leave, absenteeism and non-productivity.

Abusive husbands and lovers harass seventy-four percent of employed battered women at work, either in person or over the telephone causing 20% to leave their jobs.

More than 53% of male abusers beat their children.

Seven to 15% of pregnant women are battered in a study of poor inner city women in Baltimore17.

As violence against women becomes more severe and more frequent in their homes, children very often experience an increase in physical violence by the male batterer.

Some of the physical repercussions of violence to women are obvious just from these statistics, but many of the health impacts are often overlooked or dismissed. The health consequences of domestic violence are complex and extensive and include both physiological and psychological manifestations.

“The reported clinical problems linked to domestic violence include homicide and repeated episodes of trauma, rape, substance abuse, attempted suicide, depression, child abuse, perinatal morbidity, chronic pain, and somatic complaints. Psychologically, the combination of ongoing assault and coercive control may evoke symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, characterized by flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance, loss of boundaries, numbing, and chronic dread and anxiety.”18

The following AMA guidelines identify specific behaviors which can help survivors, health profes- sionals, and others to recognize and acknowledge that violence has occurred.

PHYSICAL ABUSE:  Physical abuse is usually recurrent and escalates in both frequency and severity. It may include the following:

Pushing, shoving, slapping, punching, kicking, choking

Assault with a weapon

Holding, tying down, or restraining the woman

Leaving the woman in a dangerous place

Refusing to help when she is sick or injured


EMOTIONAL OR PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE  may precede or accompany physical violence as a means of controlling through fear and degradation. It may include the following:

Threats of harm

Physical and social isolation

Extreme jealousy and possessiveness

Deprivation and/or intimidation

Degradation and humiliation

Calling her names and constantly criticizing, insulting and belittling her

False accusations, blaming her for everything

Ignoring, dismissing, or ridiculing her needs

Lying, breaking promises, destroying trust

Driving fast or recklessly to frighten and intimidate her

SEXUAL ABUSE in violent relationships is often the most difficult aspect of abuse for women to discuss.  It may include any form of forced sex or sexual degradation, such as:

Trying to make her perform sexual acts against her will

Pursuing sexual activity when she is not fully conscious or is not asked or is afraid to say no

Hurting her physically during sex or assaulting her genitals, including use of objects or weapons intravaginally, orally, or anally

Coercing her to have sex without protection against pregnancy or sexually transmissible diseases

Criticizing her and calling her sexually degrading names

Clinical studies underscore the prevalence of domestic violence and its relationship to continued or repeated trauma and consequent medical and psychiatric problems. More than half of all nonfatal assaults result in injury, and ten percent of the victims require hospitalization or emergency medical treatment. Seventy-five percent of battered women first identified in a medical setting will go on to suffer repeated abuse.

According to various studies, battered women account for:

Approximately 11% of women seeking care for any reason in emergency departments, the majority of whom are seen by medical or other nontrauma services

19-30% of injured women seen in emergency departments

14% of women seen in ambulatory-care internal medicine clinics (28% have been battered at some time)

25% of women who attempt suicide (50% of black women who attempt suicide)

25% of women utilizing a psychiatric emergency service

23% of pregnant women seeking prenatal care

45-59% of mothers of abused children

58% of women over 30 years old who have been raped

50% of all homeless women19



Surveys of health care providers in four states indicated that between four and seventeen percent of pregnant women had experienced violence within the last twelve months.20

For many reasons, pregnant women are particularly vulnerable. Though pregnancy is often thought to be a time of joy and hope, women go through many difficult changes both physically and psychologically. At precisely the time when they need the most support, many women receive violent abuse instead. According to the National Organization for Obstetric, Gyneco- logical, and Neonatal Nurses, women who are battered often find that the violence increases during pregnancy. For many women the abuse begins during the first pregnancy. An NAACOG newsletter reports that approximately seven percent to fifteen percent of all pregnant women are physically abused. In the same article Jacquelyn Campbell, RN, states, “It’s hardly ever confined to pregnancy, though if it starts during pregnancy it will most likely continue after the child is born.” Campbell also noted, “Ironically, it is often the normal changes of pregnancy that trigger the first episodes of abuse or fuel recurring abuse. Some men feel threatened by the emotional changes a woman experiences during pregnancy and become jealous of her deepening bond with the baby.”21

Another article noted that “two out of three pregnant emergency room trauma patients were found to be victims of battering, often with the first physical abuse occurring shortly after the first pregnancy was apparent.” One woman described this reaction from her partner:

“The first violence occurred when I told him I was pregnant. He was drinking his morning coffee. He threw the coffee cup on the floor, grabbed my arms, pinned me against the wall and punched me in the stomach. He never said anything.”22

According to one report: “One in 12 pregnant women experiences battering during pregnancy.” The report also states that “Battered women are four times more likely to deliver a low birthweight infant.”23 Since birthweight is the most critical factor in determining a child’s survival and later health and development, these facts have a tremendous impact on future generations as well as on the women being battered.

Most sources agree that battering during pregnancy is probably greatly underreported, and more research needs to be done. An article in the Injury Prevention Network Newsletter reported that “as many as one-quarter to two thirds of battered women studied reported abuse during pregnancy.”24

“Since 25 to 35% of battered women are pregnant, battering results in increased neonatal care, increased likelihood of miscarriage, and increased risk of mental retardation and physical disability in children. Violent families use hospitals and doctors more than other families. Bellevue, Washington, for example, estimates that each domestic violence incident costs the city over $3,000.”25



Domestic violence affects only a small percentage of the population.


According to a national survey conducted by Dr. Richard Gelles, violence occurs in 28% of all marriages. Dr. Gelles observes that this figure probably underestimates the problem.
In a survey conducted by the United Methodist Church, for example, 1 in 13 church members responding had been physically abused by a spouse, and 1 in 4 had been verbally or emotionally abused.  An estimated 90% of all domestic violence incidents go unreported.


Middle class women and men do not experience domestic violence as frequently as poor women and men.


Abusers and victims come from every race, religion and socioeconomic background. Women have reported attacks by husbands who are doctors, judges, lawyers, legislators, police officers, teachers, social workers, clergy, factory workers, and laborers.  Poor women are often over-represented in shelters for battered women because they have few resources. Wealthier women may have access to credit cards, bank accounts, and cash, and can purchase services. They may have more to lose in terms of status and economics if they report their abusers to police.


Alcohol abuse causes violence.


Alcohol is not the cause, but it is often a contributor.  Studies reveal that 40-80% of the time alcohol is a factor in incidents of domestic violence. Drinking lowers one’s control or inhibitions and may be the excuse for letting down these restraints against violence.



Abusers are psychopathic. Only sick, evil people abuse their partners.


Abusers may lead “normal” lives in all aspects except their inability to control aggressive impulses. While no one would dispute the evil of a vicious assault on another person, men who beat their wives or intimate partners are not always psychologically unbalanced. Studies have found that the male spouse abuser has a poor self-image, feels he is less than he ought to be, and feels he does not live up to society’s ideal of masculinity. A man takes out his feelings of inadequacy and frustration on his partner because he feels that other men would respond to his aggression in kind and she mostly likely will not.  Abusers do show a tendency to use charm as a manipulative technique, and are usually described by their women as being very, very good or very, very horrid. Unlike the psychopath, however, the abuser does feel a sense of guilt and shame at his uncontrollable actions and this may contribute to his denial of the dire consequences of his actions.


Women who are domestic violence victims are masochistic, provoke the assaults, and enjoy the violence.


According to Murray Strauss in Sexual Inequality, Cultural Norms, and Wife Beating (1976), husbands provoke the violence eighty-five percent of the time. Women report being brutally assaulted for such things as: the baby was crying; the dishes weren’t done yet; the man wanted a dinner other than that which had been prepared; his or her wanting to have sex; his or her not wanting to have sex.  The idea that anyone would enjoy violence — being punched in the face, kicked in the abdomen, thrown against a wall, having bones broken, eyes swollen shut and lips split open — is ludicrous.



Some women need or deserve a beating to keep them in line.


Historically, laws have stated that men not only had the right but were obligated to keep their “children, cattle, and wives from transgressing.” Laws to this effect were made by both secular and religious bodies. Laws have changed, but attitudes prevail. Women are not the property of men. No one has the right to control another’s behavior by violent and brutal assaults.  Studies have suggested that a victim’s behavior may have little correlation to an abuser’s violence. When the abuser is under stress, he will find reasons to assault the victim.


A strong faith will prevent battering.


The prevention of battering relies on the development and understanding of what it means to care for and love another. Religion, its scriptures and its community, has been used to accept or condone violence in relationships. These same resources can also provide restraints against violence and define healthy, safe relationships. It takes more than faith to prevent battering.


Shelters for victims of violence break up families.


“To suggest that shelters break up abusive families is like saying that hospitals cause auto accidents” (Working Together). Violence breaks up families.  Women who have been abused must make their own decisions regarding their future and their children’s future. This is the philosophy of empowerment held by most shelter programs. Being a victim of domestic violence is a difficult experience and the decision to leave is not a simple one. About 75% of women who go to shelters return to abusive relationships and nearly that number will return to the shelter after another violent episode. 26

  • Taken from Domestic Violence Guide for Clergy


“Why Doesn’t She Just Leave??”

Both on an individual and a societal level we have created many excuses not to intervene in the problem of domestic violence, such as, “it’s a private issue,” “it’s too complicated,” and “women won’t prosecute anyway.” Perhaps the most irresponsible of all these excuses comes in the form of a question which blames the victim: “Why doesn’t she just leave?”

There are many reasons that women don’t leave violent and abusive situations, a primary one being that it is often more dangerous to leave than to stay. The fact is that women are at greatest risk while trying to leave and after they have left an abusive relationship.

The following statistics reveal some of the reasons women don’t “just leave”:

Although divorced and separated women compose only 7% of the population in the United States, they account for 75% of all battered women and report being battered 14 times as often as women still living with their partners.

Women who leave their batterers are at a 75% greater risk of being killed by the batterer than those who stay.

After being sheltered, 31% of abused women in New York City returned to their batterers primarily because they could not locate longer-term housing.

Abusers keep or destroy documentation like birth certificates and immunization records, thus preventing or seriously delaying the family’s receiving welfare benefits or housing assistance.27Women are often forced to remain in dangerous and degrading situations because they must first be concerned with basic survival for themselves and their children.


1. Reassure her that she does not cause the beatings. A wife beater learned to use violence as a way of expressing anger or frustration long before he met her.

2. Physical safety is the first priority. Beatings usually get worse as time goes on. Ignoring a beating is dangerous. Explain this to your friend.

3. Tell her that she is not alone in her predicament. Wife assault happens to many women, in all income and education levels, in all social classes, in all religious and ethnic groups.

4. Explain to her that wife beating is not a sickness, it’s a crime. It is too widespread and occurs too frequently to be caused by mental illness.

5. Your friend needs your moral support; she needs your reassurance that she is not to blame. Help her to find the assistance she needs to live a life free from assault.

6. If she is not ready at this point to make major changes in her life, do not take away your friendship. Your support and advice may be what will make it possible for her to act at a later date.28


Model Court Intervention Programs

The fact is that when women are believed, supported, protected and given options, they very often leave a domestic situation in which they are being battered, and often press charges against their persecutors. Creating the circumstances which allow women to get out of violent situations requires political will and a concerted cooperative approach on the part of various institutions such as the police, courts and social service agencies.

There are several model court programs around the country which are making significant progress in confronting domestic violence. These programs have not eliminated this type of violence against women, but they have shown that when a community is committed to addressing the problem, the severity and frequency of violence can be reduced. Each program is unique, but they share common features such as interagency cooperation, and a commitment to protect and support victims and to prosecute and treat batterers.

For further information contact:

Dick Wuhrman
Stipulated Order of Continuance Program
Bellevue Probation Department
P.O. Box 90012
Bellevue, WA  98009-9012
Tel:  (206) 455-6956

Andrew Klein
Chief Probation Officer
Quincy District Court Domestic Violence Prevention Program
Quincy Division District Court Department
One Dennis F. Ryan Parkway
Quincy, MA  02169
Tel:  (617) 471-1650

Gwen DeVasto
Domestic Violence Program
Norfolk County District Attorney Office
Family Services Unit
No. 10 Granite Street, 3rd Floor
Quincy, MA  02169
Tel:  (617) 472- 0613, ext. 125     
Fax:  (617) 770-3891

Training Coordinator
Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (DAIP)
206 W. Fourth Street, Room 201
Duluth, MN  55806
Tel:  (218) 722-2781     Fax: (218) 723-0779


     Selected Readings

Hofeller, Kathleen. Battered Women, Shattered Lives. Sarotaga, CA: R&E Publishers, 1987.  Stories of three different women who endure the fear, pain and despair of being battered and brutalized by the very men who professed to love them.

Jones, Ann and Schechter, Susan.  When Love Goes Wrong:  What to Do When You Can’t Do Anything Right.  New York:  Harper Collins, 1992.  A must for women locked in unhappy relationships and professionals who wish to help them.

Jones, Ann. Next Time She’ll be Dead; Battering & How to Stop It. Boston: Beacon Press, 1994.

Statman, Jan Berliner. The Battered Woman’s Survival Guide: Breaking the Cycle. Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing Co.,  1995.

Walker, Lenore E. Terrifying Love – Why Battered Women Kill and How Society Responds. New York:  Harper & Row, 1989. An incredible resource for those who care about battered women and strong tool for equality and understanding.

Walker, Lenore.  The Battered Woman.  New York:  Harper & Row, 1979.  Award winning book by one of the leading authorities on domestic violence.

NiCarthy, Ginny.  Getting Free:  A Handbook for women in Abusive Relationships.  Seattle:  The Seal Press, 1982.


Films and videos

The following two videos show the severity of the problem and how society punishes women who fight back.

“Defending Our Lives”
40 min. documentary from Battered Women Fight Back about women in prison in Massachusetts for killing their batterers.

Cambridge Documentary Films, Inc.
P.O. Box 385,
Cambridge, MA 02139
Tel:  (617) 354-3677

“They’ll Find You Guilty”
30 min. documentary about women who shot or killed their batterers and are imprisoned in Michigan.

Carol Jacobsen
1980 Alhambra
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103
Tel:  313/ 662-0776

“Once Were Warriors”
A movie filmed and produced in New Zealand which shows the complexity of violence in a love relationship. It was described by the Family Violence Prevention Fund as “quite possibly the best depiction of domestic violence ever captured on film.”

“Crimes Against the Future”
March of Dimes video — the only current video specific to abuse during pregnancy.

Hollywood has also produced feature length films about the issue of domestic violence, among them:

Sleeping With the Enemy

The Burning Bed

Groups working on the issue:

American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence
740 15th St. NW, 9th Floor
Washington, DC  20005-1009
Tel:  (202) 662-1744
e-mail:  abacdv@abnet.org
Homepage:  http://www.abanet.org/domviol/home.html

Battered Women’s Justice Project
4032 Chicago Ave. South
Minneapolis, MN  55407
Tel:  (800) 903-0111     Fax: (612) 824-8965

Department of Justice – Violence Against Women Office
Homepage:  http://www.usdoj.gov/vawo/

Justice Statistics Clearinghouse
National Criminal Justice Reference Service
Tel:  (800) 732-3277

Family Violence & Sexual Assault Institute
1121 E.S.E. Loop 323
Suite 130
Tyler, TX  75701
Tel:  (903) 534-5100     Fax:  (903) 534-5454

Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence
Family Violence Prevention Fund
383 Rhode Island Street, Suite 304
San Francisco, CA 94103
Tel:  (800) 313-1310     Fax: (415) 252-8991
e-mail:  http://www.igc.apc.org/fund/

National Battered Women’s Law Project at the National Center on Women and Family Law
799 Broadway, Room 402
New York, NY 10003
Tel:  (212) 674- 8200

National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse Information
P.O. Box 1182
Washington, DC 20013
Tel:  (800) 394-3366     Fax:  (703) 385-3206
e-mail:  nccan@calib.com

National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women
125 S. 9th St. Suite 302
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Tel:  (215) 351-0010     Fax:  (215) 351-0779

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
P.O. Box 18749
Denver, CO 80218
Tel:  (303) 839-1852

National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence
Tel:  (800) 222-2000

National Domestic Violence Hotline
Tel:  (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or
(800) 787-3224

National Organization for Victim Assistance
1757 Park Road, NW
Washington, DC  20010
Tel:  (202) 232-6682

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
6400 Flank Drive, Suite 1300
Harrisburg, PA 17112
Tel:  (800) 537-2238     Fax:  (717) 545-9456

Silent Witness National Initiative
“Zero by 2010”

7 Sheridan Ave., So.
Minneapolis, MN  55405
Tel:  (612) 377-6629     Fax:  (612) 374-3956
Promotes peace, healing, and responsibility in adult relationships in order to eliminate domestic murders in the U.S. by 2010.

Women’s Rights Project
22 East 40th Street
New York, NY 10016
Tel:  (212) 944-9800 ext. 521



“The boys never meant any harm against the girls. They just wanted to rape.”

  • School administrator in Kenya after angry school
    boys went on a rampage killing 19 school girls and raping 71

Rape Poem

There is no difference between being raped
and being pushed down a flight of cement stairs
except that the wounds also bleed inside.

There is no difference between being raped
and being run over by a truck
except that afterward men asked if you enjoyed it.

There is no difference between being raped
and being bit on the ankle by a rattlesnake
except that people ask if your skirt was short
and why you were out alone anyhow.

There is no difference between being raped
and going head first through a windshield
except that afterward you are afraid
not of cars
but of half the human race.

  • Marge Piercy


Rape is one of the most prevalent and brutal violent acts committed against women all over the world, and yet it is so veiled in myth and misconception that it is frequently diminished or even dismissed in the mind of the public. Myths and ingrained cultural attitudes are the biggest barriers to societies recognizing the scope and extent of the problem and taking serious measures to prevent it.

There is really no place on Earth where women are safe from the possibility of rape. Women are raped by strangers in dark alleys and by their husbands in their own bedrooms. Many women experience rape and abuse while in confinement by police and military. Women are raped in time of war as an act of political revenge, threat or intimidation. They are also raped by their fathers, brothers and other male relatives, and by neighbors and acquaintances.

According to researcher Lori Heise, “Six well designed studies suggest that between one in five and one in seven U.S. women will be the victim of a completed rape in her lifetime.” Studies in Canada, the U.K. and New Zealand reveal very similar rates in all of these countries.32 Many countries do not collect or report such information, and in virtually every country rape is under-reported. But it is a major problem the world over.

A conference report by the Global Fund for Women included the following statistics:

One out of every two women arrested by the military in the Philippines is forced to undress. Among those arrested, 14% were slapped, boxed, or severely mauled. Another 14% were harassed and threatened with rape or death.

In Jamaica, where rape is not a criminal offense, 1,088 cases of rape and carnal abuse were reported in 1989.

In Bolivia 79% of young prostitutes turn to prostitution out of economic need after running away from violent homes where they were victims of rape and incest by male relatives.

While only 1 in 20 rapes per year is reported in South Africa, statistics indicate that a woman is raped every 90 seconds, totalling approximately 320,000 women raped each year.33


Because rape is so shrouded in myth and distortion, to stop this form of sexual violence we much first work to get accurate information and make that information widely available throughout our communities. Misinformation and myths endanger us all because they help perpetrate perceptions and circumstances that allow rape to continue.

These are some common myths about rape and sexual assault:


Rape is caused by the victim. If a woman flirts or wears sexy clothing, she is “asking for it.”


Rape is a violation of body, mind, and spirit. It takes away a person’s control over her or his own body and choices. No one “asks for”or enjoys a violent physical attack which can result in injury, disease, pregnancy, or death. Rape is not an act of sexual passion; it is a violent crime in which sex is used as a weapon.


Only certain kinds of people get raped or sexually assaulted. It can’t happen to me.


Rapists act without considering their victims’ physical appearance, dress, age, race or social status. Rape victims have ranged in age from 1 to 92 years.



Rape is an impulsive, uncontrollable act of sexual gratification. Most rapes are spontaneous (for example, a sexually frustrated man sees an attractive woman and just cannot control himself).


Rape is a premeditated act of violence, not a spontaneous act of passion.  Seventy-one percent of rapes are planned in advance.  Sixty percent of convicted rapists were married or had regular sex partners at the time of the assault.  Men can control their sexual impulses. Rapists are motivated by power, anger, and control, not sexual gratification.


No woman can be raped against her will. Any woman could prevent rape if she really wanted to.


Many rapes involve the use of weapons. An even higher percent involve the use of force or the threat of force. Women are often physically weaker than men and are not taught to defend themselves or to be physically aggressive. In fact some women are not willing to hurt someone else, especially someone they know.


Most rapes occur when people are out alone at night. If people stay at home, they will be safe.


The victim’s home is where most sexual assaults take place. Also, many people are abducted, attacked and/or raped in broad daylight and in public places.


Rapists are strangers. If people avoid strangers, they will not be raped.


In a large percentage of rapes the assailant is known to the victim, and is often a family member. Official statistics only reflect reported rapes, not the actual number of acquaintance rapes since these are often not reported.



Rapists are abnormal perverts; only “sick” or “insane” men are rapists.


In a study of 1300 convicted offenders, few were diagnosed as mentally or emotionally ill. Most were “well-adjusted,” but had a greater tendency to express their anger through violence and rage.


Women frequently “cry rape;” false reporting of rape is common.


Only 2% of rape calls are false reports. This is the same false report rate as for other felonies.34

Rape in the United States

The U.S. has an alarming rate of rape, much higher than most other developed countries. “The United States has a rape rate thirteen times higher than Britain’s, nearly four times higher than Germany’s and more than twenty times higher than Japan’s.”35

For many reasons, some of which have already been addressed, violent acts against women are often under-reported.  Rape, in particular, is generally assumed by most sources to be greatly under-reported.  The statistics used in this guide come from a wide range of sources based on data from the past decade and primarily from the past five years.  While these statistics indicate that forcible rape has declined in the U.S. in recent years, the frequency and scope of rape is still appalling. These are some statistics that characterize rape in the U.S.:

According to the FBI, one woman is raped in the U.S. every five minutes.  97,464 forcible rapes were reported to law enforcement agencies across the nation during 1995.  The FBI estimates that 72 of every 100,000 women in the U.S. were victims of forcible rape in 1995 (this was 6% less than in 1994 and 13% less than FBI statistics showed in 1991.36a

According to a report compiled in 1992 using data from prior years, one out of every 8, or at least 12.1 million American women, has been the victim of forcible rape.

More than 6 out of 10 rape cases  (61%) occurred before victims reached the age of 18.  29% of all forcible rapes occurred when the victim was less than 11 years old, while another 32% occurred between the ages of 11 and 17.36b


Date Rape/Campus Rape

An appalling number of rapes take place on college campuses, though a very small percentage are reported and even fewer are ever prosecuted. Many women coeds are raped by male students — often men they know or at least have agreed to date. Because the men are acquaintances or because they have willingly gone on a date, these young women often do not identify their experience as rape. Moreover, women often blame themselves for making bad choices or for not being strong enough or smart enough to prevent the assault, especially when drugs or alcohol were involved. The fact is that campus rapes are often pre-meditated, and many are carefully planned gang-rapes. According to an article in Ms. magazine, “Fraternities in particular seem to be breeding grounds for campus sexual aggression, from jeering verbal abuse to acquaintance rape.”37

Almost as disturbing as the frequency and nature of these assaults is the response of campus authorities— who often ignore or minimize the incident. The actions of many campus administrators across the country have made it clear that they are more concerned with preserving the image of the institution and the support of funders than in protecting women from rape or in prosecuting men who rape. Attorney Jeffrey Newman, an expert on campus sexual assault, calls it a “syndrome.”38 Very often when women are raped on a college campus they are pressured by the administration to handle the matter quietly within the university system. And the penalties imposed on student rapists are a reflection of how insignificant school administrators consider the crime: “On many campuses, the penalty for rape is identical to, or less severe than, the sanctions for plagiarism — one year’s suspension. Frequently, confessed rapists aren’t even removed from campus. They are placed on probation.”39a

On the other hand, the victims’ lives are greatly impacted. They “drop out of classes they share with their assailants. Their grades go down. They experience chronic depression and have trouble concentrating. Many women leave school for a period of time or drop out altogether.”39b

The clear message to young men is that it is their prerogative to rape and disregard the humanity of women, and that the system will protect them. Consequently, they continue raping and assaulting women.

The same issue of Ms. carried the following statistics:

25% of college women in one survey experienced rape or attempted rape. Of these 84% knew their attackers. But only 5% notified the police.

15% of the college men in another study admitted they had forced a woman to have sex; 51% of college men in a third survey said they would rape if they were certain they could get away with it.

20% of all rapes by a single offender are committed by men under the age of twenty-one; in 62% of assaults involving multiple offenders, the rapists are under twenty-one.40


Rape As A Crime Of War

Women are particularly vulnerable to rape and abuse in times of war. Today, there are wars being fought all over the world for ethnic, religious, economic, and political reasons. As a result of so much violent conflict, there are between eighteen and twenty million refugees fleeing the violence and devastation in their homelands. The vast majority of these refugees are women, who are subjected to abuse at every step of their flight—from men in their own countries, from border police and officials in countries they try to enter, and even from men within or responsible for refugee camps.

Women are also targeted by men on either side of a conflict who rape, kidnap, kill, and torture the “enemy’s” women as an act of war. Women activists and insurgents in every part of the world who are captured and held as political prisoners are also sexually abused and tortured. This was the experience of thousands of women who were part of the struggle to oust military dictatorships from many of the countries in Central and South America during the 1970s and 80s.

There are countless stories of the sexual atrocities in Hitler’s concentration camps during World War II. But only in recent years have the horrors committed by the Japanese army come to public light. From 1932 to 1945 approximately 200,000 women (mostly young girls under twenty years of age) were abducted and forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese army. The vast majority (eighty to ninety percent) of these women were from Korea, “but women were also taken from China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and even European countries.”41a

War prostitution has always existed, but in this case “the government itself systematically planned, ordered, established, and controlled the [Japanese] army brothels where conditions were brutal. The comfort women, as they were called, had to entertain thirty to forty soldiers a day, and generally more on weekends. Many of them were infected by venereal diseases and were treated with large doses of harmful drugs.” As a result of this abuse, it is estimated that only about ten percent survived. Many were killed or forced to commit suicide when the Japanese lost the war. Most of those who did survive were destroyed for life. “After returning home, these former comfort women could not marry, or failed in marriage because of their own sense of guilt, ill health, or the bias they suffered in society. They currently live alone under severe economic difficulties and many are in failing health.”41b  The Japanese government has only recently been forced to acknowledge the plight of these women and is being pressured to make reparations.

An especially brutal and devastating form of rape is mass gang rape as an act of war. “In recent years mass rape in war has been documented in Bosnia, Cambodia, Liberia, Peru, Somalia, and Uganda. A European Community fact-finding team estimates that more than 20,000 Muslim women were raped during the war in Bosnia in the early 1990s. Many have been held in ‘rape camps’ where they have been raped repeatedly and forced to bear Serbian children against their will.”42

Health Consequences of Rape

Rape has many physical and emotional consequences for victims, the most extreme being death. Many rape victims are tortured, killed, and mutilated. Other obvious consequences of violent assault are broken bones, cuts, bruises, and abrasions. Not all rape involves violent assault and not all resulting health problems are obvious or even immediate.

The specific manifestations and the severity of future problems depend on many variables, such as, the circumstances, severity and duration of the assault, the identity of the attacker, the way a woman views her role in the incident, and the kind of treatment and support she receives afterwards.

Often, the initial reaction to rape is one of denial and emotional numbness followed later by recurring feelings of terror and helplessness. For a variety of reasons women do not report being raped: they don’t know where to go, who to trust, how to get help; they are ashamed, or fear retaliation or social stigma, or that the perpetrator still has power over them. All rape victims are subject to a psychological delayed trauma reaction called Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Women who receive no help immediately following rape often experience many future problems which do not even seem related to the initial incident.

“For successful recovery, a victim needs to work through the realization of what happened, to know that it was not her fault, and to feel that her own worth hasn’t changed as a consequence. Seeking help at this point is a sign of strength, not weakness, and a way for a woman to increase her power. Also, the rape victim is usually not the only person affected by the crime; family, husband or lover, and others close to her may need to be involved, both to speed the victim’s process of recovery and to work through issues of their own.”43

The rape crisis movement has identified the physical and emotional trauma victims suffer during, immediately after, and in the long term after a rape, as Rape Trauma Syndrome.


This syndrome has two phases:

1.Immediate/Acute phase — victim’s lifestyle is completely disrupted by the rape crisis.

2. Long-term process — victim must reorganize disrupted lifestyle.


The Acute Phase: Disruption
Immediate impact reaction

Victims describe an extremely wide range of emotions in the immediate hours following the rape. Two main styles of emotion are shown by victims.

1.Expressed - Victim demonstrates such feelings as anger, fear, anxiety

2. Controlled - Victim’s feelings are masked or hidden

Physical reactions

  • Soreness - either in entire body or in area that had been focus of assailant’s force

  • Disorganized sleep patterns - possibly nightmares, screaming in sleep

  • Disturbed eating patterns - often a decrease in appetite

  • Attack specific symptoms - irritation to mouth and throat for victims forced to perform oral sex, etc.

Emotional reactions

The primary feeling expressed is fear - fear of physical injury, mutilation, and death. The victim’s symptoms are an acute stress reaction to the threat of being killed.

Other feelings can include:

  • Humiliation

  • Self-blame

  • Anger

  • Degradation

  • Guilt

  • Embarrassment

  • Shame

  • Revenge

  • Mood swings

Victims’ emotional reactions may also be expressed in irritation, anger, fear, or extreme caution in dealing with other people.


The Long-term Reaction
Physical lifestyle

Physical symptoms resulting from rape trauma can include:

  • Vaginal problems

  • Changes in menstrual cycle and functioning

  • Musculoskeletal pain

  • Genitourinary difficulties

  • Gastrointestinal upset

  • General malaise

  • Eating or sleeping pattern disruption

Psychological Lifestyle

  • Dreams and nightmares, either of the actual assault or related violent dreams

  • Phobias, usually specific to the circumstances of the rape, including fear of crowds, of being alone, or of characteristics of the assailant

  • Paranoia, or fear of everyone

Social Lifestyle

  • Inability to resume more than a minimum level of social functioning (e.g. only going to work or school)

  • Staying home, or only able to go outside with someone else

  • Seeking more support from family, with or without disclosing the assault

  • Moving

  • Changing telephone number or getting an unlisted number

Sexual Lifestyle

  • Fear of sex. Victims for whom the assault was their only sexual experience may be afraid that sex will be like the assault. Sexually active victims may fear having sex with their partners. Other victims may fear starting new relationships.

  • Fear of physical contact, such as hugging

  • Lack of desire

Rape can make other problems worse for a victim. For instance if a woman was already having physical, financial or psychological problems, the immediate trauma as well as the disruption of her life after the rape usually increases or complicates existing problems.

Because the problem is so extensive and cuts across so many boundaries, there really is no “type” of woman most likely to be raped. The one common thread from recent research is that “women who are raped are more likely than average to have been sexually abused as children.”  It is not known why this is so and clearly this is not a factor in all rapes.45



Sadly, given the prevalence of sexual violence in today’s world, many may find themselves unexpectedly in the position of wanting to comfort or console someone who has been assaulted.  While there are no easy responses, the following kinds of statements and questions must be avoided when dealing with victims of sexual assault.

You are lucky to be alive.

That’s not so bad. You should hear what happened to...

I don’t understand why you let it happen.

You must forgive and forget.

Just quit thinking about it. Don’t let it rule your life.

Life goes on. Make the most of the situation.

You should have... or Why didn’t you....

There is nothing you can do about it now.

You didn’t fight hard enough.

Why were you drinking?

You’ve made your bed, now lie in it.

It could have been worse.

God must be preparing you for something through this.46



Selected Reading

Kaufman, Doris; Morgan, Carol; Rudeen, Robert. Safe Within Yourself - A Woman’s Guide to Rape Prevention and Self-Defense. Alexandria, VA:  Visage Press, Inc., 1980.

Braswell, Linda. Quest for Respect - A Healing Guide for Survivors of Rape. Pathfinder Publishing of California, 1992. Healing strategies which respect every survivor’s unique recovery from victimization. Highly recommended.

Allison, Julie and Wrightman, Lawrence. Rape - The Misunderstood Crime.  Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publication, 1993. Excellent resource for dispelling rape myths - helps understand nature and dynamics of rapists and victims.

Chapman, Jane Roberts and Gates, Margaret editors. Victimization of women. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications,  1978.

Rutter, Peter, MD. Sex in the Forbidden Zone - Why Men in Power - Therapists, Doctors, Clergy, Teachers & Others Betray Women’s Trust.  L.A., CA:  Jeremy Tarcher Inc.,1989.

Kelly, Liz. Surviving Sexual Violence. University of Minnesota Press, 1988. Perhaps single best analysis published on coping with sexual violence - emphasizes defining, naming and labeling violence.

Warshaw, Robin, I Never Called it Rape; the Ms. Report on Recognizing, Fighting and Surviving Date Rape, 1988. Essential information and strategies for prevention and healing.

Brownmiller, Susan. Against our Will: Men, Women and Rape. New York:  Bantam Books,  1975. Classic work on hidden currents in male-female relationships.

Parrot, Andrea and Beckhofer, Laurie. Acquaintance Rape, The Hidden Crime. John Wiles and Sons, Inc., 1991.

Rape in America - A Report to the Nation by Dean G. Kilpatrick, PhD, Christine N. Edmunds, B.S., Anne Seymour, B.S. Prepared by National Victim Center and Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, 1992.



“While women represent one half of the global population and one third of the labor force and are responsible for two thirds of all working hours they receive one tenth of world income and own less than one percent of world property.”47

On first glance one might wonder what relationship legal systems and economic structures have with the issue of violence against women, but laws and social customs reflect attitudes and beliefs.  There is a direct connection between women’s legal and economic status and the amount of violence and hardship they suffer. Men abuse, batter and violate women, in part simply because they can. Men have the physical and economic power, and the legal and political protection which allows them to abuse women. Violence against women serves both to wield that power and to preserve it. Gail Omvadt gives the following description of women’s status in India:

“On the one hand, the pervasive violence against women throughout society has an obvious economic function: in keeping women under control, in preventing them from going out of the home to take advantage of economic opportunities, it forces them into the most low-paid or unpaid forms of labor. Brutal suppression in fact keeps women in their propertyless and resourceless state....On the other hand, the basic economic dependence of women, their propertylessness and resourcelessness, renders them fearfully weak in standing up and challenging the violence and power that is used against them in society. Thus it appears that violence keeps women economically dependent and super-exploited, while economic dependence and exploitation render them unable to combat violence.”48

Though specifically referring to India, this is an apt portrayal of women’s status in many countries. Negative attitudes about women are so deeply ingrained in many Asian cultures that baby girls are killed and female fetuses are aborted. When they do survive, girl children are often given less food, health care, education, and certainly less love and attention. “A World Health Organization study reveals wherever food is in short supply, girl children are fed less, breast fed for a shorter time, and taken to doctors less often.” Many girls “are permanently maimed, both physically and mentally from chronic malnutrition.”49

The following statistics demonstrate this reality:

Before birth, amniocentesis is used for sex selection leading to the abortion of female fetuses at rates as high as 99% in Bombay, India.50

Discrimination against girl children is so strong in the Punjab state of India that girl children aged 2-4 die at twice the rate of boys. Among 45 developing countries for which recent data are available, there are only two where mortality rates for girls ages 1-4 are not higher than that of boys.51

Based on global mortality patterns, some one hundred million Asian women are estimated to be missing, attributable largely to female infanticide and the abortion of female fetuses.52

One sixth of all female infant deaths in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh were due to neglect and discrimination (WHO 1986 figures).

In a South Asian country, one study over a two and a half year period found that 58% of known female infanticide was committed by feeding babies the poisonous sap of a plant or by choking them by lodging rice hulls soaked in milk in their throats.53

In India in 1990, police officially recorded 4,835 dowry deaths in all India, but the Ahmedabad Women’s Action Group estimated that some 1,000 women may have been burned alive annually in Gujurat State alone.54

In the urban centers of Maharashtra State, 19% of all deaths among women 15 to 44 years old are due to “accidental burns.” By contrast, the same figure is less than 1% in Guatemala, Ecuador and Chile.55

Dowry Deaths

One of the most demeaning forms of abuse of women is the custom of dowry, a practice in which the woman’s family pays the groom’s family to take her as a bride. Besides reducing women to an object to be disposed of, the custom often causes great hardship and poverty to the woman’s family. Though women’s groups have organized to oppose the custom, it is very hard to eradicate because of the power and opposition of those who make great financial gain from the practice. The instutitionalized custom of dowry was actually outlawed in India in 1961, and dowry harassment (the groom’s family threatening and abusing the bride until her family provides more dowry) has been considered a “punishable offense since the mid-eighties.”56 The problem is that the laws against dowry harassment are not enforced, so rather than disappearing, the practice is actually increasing for a variety of reasons, including increased commercialism and materialism in Indian society.

In recent years the financial demands have grown to such an extent that many women are killed by their in-laws who want a larger dowry. This cruel practice has given rise to the phenomenon known as dowry deaths.

“The practice of dowry has often led to a form of extortion where the husband and his family beat or torture a bride to extract increasing amounts of money from her family. In many instances the bride is actually killed. Usually, her death is in the form of a “kitchen accident” in which she is pushed into an open fire-stove after being doused with kerosene. The man is then free to remarry, in a different city or village, and accumulate more dowry.”57

Discrimination in Education

One area of discrimination against women that seriously impacts all of society is education. Two-thirds of the world’s illiterates are women, and while the general global illiteracy rate is falling, the female illiteracy rate is rising.58 While this is slowly changing — the growing awareness of the need for universal education is becoming more ingrained — women are being taught to read at a much slower rate than men. In many countries where the economic crisis has caused price increases for school fees and books, parents must choose which children can go to school. Invariably, it is the girls who are left behind to help with household chores and younger siblings. Many cultures believe that education is wasted on girls anyway. This belief is counter to evidence which demonstrates that educating women is good for society based on improved family health and other indicators.

“The 1990 Human Development Report underlines the high social dividend that comes with female literacy, as demonstrated by lower infant mortality rates, better family nutrition, reduced fertility and lower population growth.”59

In other societies, it is not just poverty but violence and the threat of violence that prevents women from getting an education. One of the most horrendous examples of violence against female students comes from Canada, which is a very prosperous and in many ways progressive country. On December 6, 1989 engineering students at the University of Montreal were brutally reminded that no country is safe for women. A 25 year old man, described as a “combat-video aficionado” had failed in his attempt to complete an application to the engineering school and blamed the female students for his failure. The man, Marc Lépine, stormed into a classroom where he separated the men from the women and ordered the men to leave the room. He then opened fire on the women shouting “you’re all fucking feminists.” In his rage he went on a killing spree which left 14 women dead and nine other women and four men wounded. He then killed himself. He left a suicide note which blamed women for all of his failures.60

Brutal Laws and Legal Murder

Clearly, Marc Lépine’s rampage was the personal vendetta of a deeply troubled individual, not a result of university policy or a country’s laws.  This incident would never happen in many countries simply because national laws, customs, and social mores limit or prohibit women’s participation in the social institutions and public life of that country.   For instance, in many Muslim countries women are required to have a male guardian for their entire lives. Thus, women are subject to abuse and control not just by husbands but by other male relatives as well. This practice is often both socially acceptable and legally condoned.  Under a code of “Honor,” women have been beaten, maimed and murdered for offending “Family Honor” in countries as diverse as Brazil, Pakistan, and Egypt. Nahid Toubia speaks of this tradition in Africa and the Middle East.

“Taken to its extreme, women may be murdered as punishment for suspected extramarital affairs. In Southern Egypt, for example, one still finds the killing of “sexually deviant” daughters or sisters as a matter of honor for the men in the family. One man is assigned the task, but the whole family confers on the matter and sanctions the murder. The legal system has become increasingly critical of this behavior, but still to this day “honor homicides” are given more lenient sentences than other types of premeditated murder.”61

In Jordan, men rarely spend more than six months to two years in jail for a “Crime of Honor” which is killing a female relative for alleged sexual misconduct. Women cannot exercise the Honor defense even if they kill a man for the same crime. The minimum sentence for murder (of a man) is 15 years.62

In recent years, with fundamentalism on the rise around the world, many countries have passed even more regressive laws. Pakistan now has one of the most repressive anti-woman penal codes in the world. Women within Pakistan are greatly opposed to several laws which are now being strictly enforced. Three laws which particularly discriminate against Pakistani women are the Law of Evidence, the Offense of Zina (Enforcement of Hudood) Ordinance of 1979 and a Citizenship Act. As with laws in many countries, these laws “were introduced in the name of Islam, but were clearly used by the military rulers to get support from religious lobbyists.”63  Women in other Muslim countries fear that similar laws will be adopted by their governments as fundamentalist backlash sweeps through the Islamic world.

The Law of Evidence states that women’s testimony or evidence is worth one half the evidence of a man. The Hudood (Islamic punishment) Ordinance is being used against rape victims. Under the new Hudood Laws:

  • the burden of proof in a rape case falls on the woman, who must convince the court that she was raped;

  • rape can only be proven by the testimony of four male Moslem witnesses;

  • the police, who tend to favor men, are often reluctant to file rape charges; rape victims often end up being raped again while in police custody;

  • apart from the psychological damage the victim suffers, she may also end up being ostracized and turned out by her family, which is reluctant to be associated with her once the rape is publicized;

  • more often than not, under the new laws the rape victim is charged with adultery which is now a crime against the state.64


The following case demonstrates some of the extremes within this system:

A 13-year-old girl who was raped and then became pregnant was sentenced to three years in prison and one hundred lashes while the man who raped her was set free.65 Pakistani law allows for women convicted of extramarital sex to be given 25 year prison sentences or even to be stoned to death.

ZINA, another law, is defined as the offense of “desiring and fornicating with other men’s women,”66a yet when these laws are enforced rarely if ever is the man’s role considered. Variations of the Pakistani zina laws have been passed in many other countries such as Iran, Iraq, and Algeria. As a result the female prison population has increased as much as 200 percent in some countries which has also resulted in a great increase in custodial violence and rape. Other elements of Islam which have state approval in many Moslem countries and which serve to oppress and abuse women are polygamy and repudiation.  In many Muslim countries men can take up to four wives without even considering the needs or feelings of any of the women involved. According to Fatima Marnissi, “polygamy is a way for the man to humiliate the woman as a sexual being....Women are considered just sexual agents to satisfy the sexual needs of men.”66b

“Repudiation is the Muslim phenomenon of verbal repudiation whose characteristic is the unconditional right of the male to break the marriage bond without any justification and without having his decisions reviewed by a court or a judge.”67

Essentially, many Muslim societies consider women less than human. Or as Marnissi states:

“The Muslim order thus considers humanity to be constituted by males only, and women were considered as a threatening outside element.”68

There are many country variations in terms of interpretation and enforcement of Islamic laws. As with all religions, there is much dispute about interpretation.  Progressive Islamic scholars disagree with the fundamentalist anti-woman interpretation of Islamic scriptures.  Basically, the intent of many of these laws is to keep men and women segregated, and to keep women isolated, subservient to male guardians, and confined to the home. In Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to drive. In Iran women can be punished for “un-Islamic” behavior such as laughing or allowing a piece of hair to show outside their veil. In Kuwait women have access to advanced education and economic prosperity, but they are not allowed to vote.


Structural Adjustment Policies, Export Processing Zones and Modern Slavery

Structural Adjustment Policies

The global economic crisis of the 1980s, and the subsequent neoliberal economic policies instituted in many countries, resulted in various circumstances which are exploitative of women and damaging to their health and well being. Seeking to unload the heavy surplus of petrodollars resulting from the high price of oil during the ‘70s, international banks encouraged heavy borrowing on the part of countries in the southern hemisphere, often at the insistence of governments in the northern hemisphere.

When rising interest rates and falling commodity prices resulted in conditions under which many countries could not make their loan payments, i.e. “the debt crisis,” frantic banks turned to the international lending institutions to bail them out. Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) are the measures designed by the IMF and the World Bank to insure that the developing countries continue to make payments on their loans.

SAPs place the burden of the debt crisis onto those who can least afford to pay — poor developing countries. Within these nations, the poorest people are disproportionately affected, and since women constitute the majority of the poor, women bear the brunt of the burden of the SAPs. The concept of structural adjustment is based on the premise that the free enterprise system will solve all economic woes. The objective is to get governments to “spend less and earn more.” In simplistic terms the theory behind SAPs is that they will limit imports and increase exports, thus stimulating economic recovery and growth.

Most structural adjustment programs require the following measures :

  • Devaluing the national currency

  • Reducing public spending (health, education, housing, sanitation, etc.)

  • Privatizing state enterprises and utilities

  • Eliminating price controls and subsidies

  • Reducing tariffs and quotas on imports

  • Promoting exports

  • Increasing personal taxes

  • Reducing the number of government employees

  • Lowering wages69

What these policies effectively mean for poor people is that they work longer for less money and pay more for goods and services. In all countries women bear the brunt of these austerity measures as they struggle to feed, clothe, house, and maintain the health of their families, often with no social assistance. Structural adjustment has produced tremendous hardship and misery in many countries, with women and children the greatest victims.


Export Processing Zones or Free Trade Zones

Debtor countries have experienced a proliferation of export processing zones or free trade zones with the introduction of structural adjustment policies. In many countries, rapid industrialization has displaced women from traditional economic activities and subsistence agriculture, into low wage manufacturing jobs. This was the case in the newly industrialized countries of Asia (the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Taiwan), where “the number of women in industry grew by 104% from 1960-1980.” Also, in countries like Mexico, Brazil, India, and Nigeria, which all experienced rapid growth, “women were absorbed into certain industries (garment, textile, and electronics-based) on the assumption that they make a more docile and disciplined work force.”70 Most of these jobs are located in the export processing zones (EPZs) and are controlled by foreign owned multinational corporations, that constantly wield the threat of taking the jobs elsewhere to keep the workers intimidated and compliant.

The following description of conditions in these export factories comes from women activists in the Caribbean where there has been a rapid influx of these EPZs:

“Women are paid by piece work. They often have no access to basic facilities like lunchrooms. When they need the toilet, they are frisked or checked and on top of that, they are monitored and allowed to go only once a day....The conditions under which these women work are reminiscent of earlier forms of colonialism like slavery and indentureship.”

“The foreign factory owners rely on our local governments to keep the workers’ unions from being effective. As a result the conditions in some of the factories are horrible. There are hazardous chemicals and little ventilation, and safety regulations aren’t enforced.”71

Wages and working conditions are even worse in other regions. “As low as wages for women in Caribbean factories are they are two to three times higher than those of the export factory workers in the low-wage Asian countries of Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.”72

Entire societies degrade because of the exploitative conditions under which these women work. Often the factories are located far from the urban centers where workers live. So in addition to working long hours with arbitrary demands for overtime, women must spend hours commuting, which means they have less time for their other duties such as caring for children, the sick and elderly, preparing food, and generally maintaining social networks and traditions. Many of the workers are single heads of households, though factory owners prefer young women with no children. In some countries (Mexico) workers have been forced to take regular pregnancy tests and are fired if they become pregnant.

Kathy McAfee, who has written extensively on this issue, states: “Employers choose young women because they can get away with paying them less, hiring and firing them as suits their convenience, forcing them to work longer hours and otherwise denying them basic labor and human rights. The social costs are grave....In some countries such as Malaysia, hard-pressed peasant farmers sacrifice their daughters to the export industries where, in exchange for a few years of cash income, the young women frequently lose their health and their respectability.”73

Though specific conditions vary from country to country, these descriptions are typical of working conditions in EPZs all over the world where women are being exploited for the profit of foreign corporations.


Sex Trade and Exploitation

Economic crisis, discrimination and exploitation are also the reasons for, and results of, women’s participation in prostitution and other aspects of the sex industry. Almost always, when women sell themselves sexually it is a matter of economic survival. In many cases women have virtually been sold into slavery by someone else, usually male family members.  If these women attempt to leave the brothels or bars they risk severe beating or even death if they are caught. This is the case with thousands of women from Burma and other countries of Southeast Asia who are forced or sold into brothels in Thailand. Thousands of other women from Thailand are forced into similar situations in Japan. Nepalese women are sent to India, and increasingly women from the newly independent states and Eastern European countries are being forced into prostitution.  Anywhere there are military bases, women are forced into the sex trade either because their families sell them to brothel owners, because they are kidnapped and forced to work against their will, or because they are lured by promises of jobs. Around the world, the number of women forced into this life of desperation and degradation is in the hundreds of thousands.



Generally, when governments address the issue of prostitution, it is only in the legal punitive sense. In most countries where prostitution is illegal only the woman is considered at fault. “There are more arrests for prostitution in the U.S. than for any other crime....In fact 30 percent of all female inmates are in jail for prostitution.”74 Why aren’t the men who participate in the “crime” charged also? Women make easy targets for the system. It is much safer, and easier, to arrest and harass prostitutes than wife beaters, rapists, and other criminals because the women are not as likely to fight back. This reality also reflects the low status of women and the fact that legal institutions all over the world are more concerned with preserving the power and rights of men than with protecting women.

There are many faces of the sex trade. In countries where this practice flourishes the reality is much more brutal and deadly than the image that is presented to the rest of the world. There are a number of euphemisms covering up the reality behind the benign phrases. Terms like “hospitality girls” and “rest and relaxation” tours belie the fact that many of the “hostesses” are actually prisoners and slaves who have been kidnapped, coerced, or sold into the sordid situations where they are forced to sell themselves for little or no compensation.

In many developing or third world countries tourism is a growing source of income accounting for a large part of the foreign currency. “Most of the money generated by sex tourism goes to tourist agencies, hotels, club owners, tour operators, pimps and other organizers of the business. Tourist agencies and airlines in industrialized countries reap huge profits. Because they see it as an important source of income, some governments condone or encourage sex tourism outright: Some officials even exhort their women to prostitution as a form of great patriotism! The most blatant examples are in the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand.”75

There are many contributing factors. Due to the heavy presence of the U.S. military and other foreigners, prostitution has always flourished in the Philippines. The permanent presence of U.S. military bases there has created a permanent demand for “sex workers.” International economic decline, which dispro- portionately impacts third world countries, has contributed to the trade, as well as the tremendous discrepancy between urban and rural incomes in places like Thailand. “Two or three years working as a masseuse/prostitute enables a woman’s family to build a house of size and quality few people in the countryside could hope to achieve with the earnings of a lifetime.”76 The temptation is great for fathers to push their daughters into prostitution to raise the whole family’s standard of living.

In other cases women are simply sold or kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery. Of the estimated 800,000 to two million prostitutes working in Thailand, the most exploited and marginalized are the approximately 20,000 Burmese women and girls who are forcefully brought to Thailand and brutally taken advantage of by traffickers, Thai police, and border officials. Seeking young, clean (AIDS free) women, recruiters go into the remote rural areas of Burma promising young women jobs as waitresses and domestics. Estimates are that 10,000 new women a year are lured from Burma into the brothels of Thailand only to be taken advantage of and deported in a year of two. “Most of these women and girls interviewed were virgins when they entered Thailand; fifty to seventy percent of them were HIV positive when they left....They work ten to eighteen hours a day, twenty-five days a month with anywhere from 5-15 clients a day. Health care and birth control information are minimal.” Most of the women return to Burma in worse condition than when they came. “Thai authorities have routinely arrested the Burmese women and girls, detained them, often without charge or trial, and abused them in detention before deporting them.”77

Similar conditions exist in India where there is great demand for young Nepali girls in the brothels of India especially among Arab clients. This trade in young women from Nepal is quite entrenched, with Nepali men from certain areas and tribes willingly supplying their female relatives for the brothels in India. “The factors conducive to smuggling out women from Nepal are many: poverty, failing economy in mountain areas, social imbalances due to large scale migration of young men, illiteracy and inferior status of women.”78

So, both directly and indirectly, economic and legal systems create the structures and circumstances which foster violence against women.  If women had equal status and protection by law, and access to economic resources through education, training, credit, jobs, and other avenues, they would not be nearly so vulnerable to economic exploitation and other forms of victimization.



Selected Readings — Sexual exploitation

Kathleen Barry. Female Sexual Slavery. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1979. Written by a Brandeis sociologist who has made a personal mission out of studying and publicizing this issue.“Undoubtedly a unique and important book.”

A Modern Form of Slavery: Trafficking of Burmese women and Girls into Brothels in Thailand. From: Asia Watch and the Women’s Rights Project, Human Rights Watch
1522 K. St., NW, # 910
Washington, DC 20005-1202

India: Trafficking in Nepalese Women Widespread
From: Nikhil Nigam, 24/52 Birhana Rd. Kanpur-208 001, India

Silenced Voices Be Heard: The Traffic in Asian Women
Information Pack -Series No. 3
ISIS International
Casilla 2067 - Correo Central
Santiago, Chile


Anti-Slavery International
180 Brixton Road
London SW9 GAT  
United Kingdom

The Circle Against Sex Trafficking of the Global Fund for Women
1525 Foothill Road
Gardnerville, NV  89410
e-mail:  stugis@nanosecond.com

Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women
P.O. Box 47, Bangkoknoi
10700 Bangkok, Thailand
Tel: 662-4335149     Fax: 662-43467774

Working Group of Religious Women Against Trafficking in Women (WRTV)
Contact person: Joke den Dulk
Postbus 1042 120AC
Bennebroek, The Netherlands
Tel: 31 2502 45657

Foundation Against Trafficking in Women (STV)
Contact person: Lin La Chew/ Marjan Wijers
Postbus 1455
3500 BC Utrecht, The Netherlands
Tel: 31 30 716044     Fax: 31 30 716084

The International Feminist Network Against Traffic in Women and Female Sexual Slavery
International Women’s Tribune Centre
777 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017  USA
Tel:  (212) 687-8633     Fax:  (212) 661-2704
e-mail:  wink@igc.apc.org

Selected Readings — Economic Issues

Bello, Waldo. Dark Victory: The United States, Structural Adjustment and Global Poverty. Oakland: Institute for Food and Development Policy, 1994.

Cavanagh, John, et. al eds. Beyond Bretton Woods: Alternatives to the Global Economic Order, Institute for Policy Studies, 1601 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington DC 20009.

Danaher, Kevin, ed. 50 years is Enough: The Case Against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Global Exchange, 2017 Mission St., Ste. 303, San Francisco CA 94110.

Recolonization or Liberation: The Bonds of Structural Adjustment and the Struggles for Emancipation. Toronto: Ecumenical Coalition for Economic Justice, 1990. 11 Madison Ave., Toronto, Canada, M5R 2S2.

George, Susan. The Debt Boomerang: How Third World Debt Harms Us All. Pluto Press, 1992.

George, Susan, A Fate Worse Than Debt. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1990.

McAfee, Kathy. Storm Signals: Structural Adjustment and Development Alternatives in the Caribbean. Boston: South End Press, 1991.

Vickers, Jeanne. Women and the World Economic Crisis. New Jersey: Zed, 1993.

Bitter Medicine, Structural Adjustment in Nicaragua ( A Witness for Peace Publication).


“Adjusting in Nicaragua: The IMF, World Bank, and Community Development”

Institute for Global Development Initiatives
94 N. Columbus Rd.
Athens, OH 45701

“The Debt Crisis - An Unnatural Disaster”

Friendship Press
PO Box 37884
Cincinnati, OH 45222-0844

“Hell to Pay”

Women Make Movies
62 Broadway, Suite 500
New York, NY 10013.

“What’s the Cost of your Blouse?”

Northern California Interfaith Council on Economic and Environmental Justice
464 19th St.
Oakland CA 94612


Alliance for Democracy
P.O. Box 683
Lincoln, MA  01773
Tel: (617) 491-4221
e-mail:  peoplesall@aol.com

Center for Democratic Education:
8403 Colesville Rd., Suite 720
Silver Spring, MD  20910
Tel. (301) 589-9383     Fax:  (301) 589-3505

The Center for Popular Economics:
Box 785
Amherst, MA 01004
Tel. (413) 545-0743     Fax: (413) 545-2921
e-mail:  cpe@acad.umass.edu

Corporate Watch
e-mail:  http://www.corp.watch.com

The Development Gap:
927 Fifteenth Street NW
Washington DC 20005
Tel. (202) 898-1566     Fax:  (202) 898-1612
e-mail:  dgap@igc.apc.org

50 Years is Enough Campaign:
1025 Vermont Ave. NW, Ste. 300
Washington DC 20005
Tel:  (202) 879-3187     Fax:  (202) 879-3186
e-mail:  wb50years@igc.apc.org

The Institute for Food and Development Policy/Food First:
398 60th St. Oakland, CA 94618
Tel: (510) 654-4400
e-mail:  foodfirst@igc.apc.org

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibilities
475 Riverside Drive, Room 550
New York, NY  10115
Tel:  (212) 870-2295     Fax:  (212) 870-2023
e-mail:  info@iccr.org

David Korten
People Centered Development Forum

Positive Futures Network
P.O. Box 10818
Bainbridge Island, WA  98110-0818
Tel:  206-842-0216     Fax:  (206) 842-5208
e-mail  yes@futurenet.org

Witness for Peace:
2201 P St. NW, Room 109
Washington DC 20037
Tel. (202) 797-1160
Homepage:  http://www.igc.apc.org/wfp/
e-mail:  witness@4peace.org


...At last, I recognized the connection between mutilation and enslavement that is at the root of the domination of women in the world.79

  • Alice Walker

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is one of the most insidious forms of violence to which women are subjected. Because it is an ingrained cultural practice in so many countries, FGM has been particularly hard to eradicate. The practice originated and continues as a way to control women’s lives through their sexuality. The core purpose of the mutilation is to destroy women’s sexual desire and thus to insure fidelity. The practice continues today because of the deep-seated belief that uncircumcised women are unclean (or deformed and dangerous) and therefore unmarriageable.  The procedure is usually performed by older women who gain status, respect, and material goods in exchange for their services. Often, circumcised women become part of a secret society or are honored by special ceremonies and celebrations at the time of their circumcision. Advocates of the practice argue that women would lose an important part of their cultural heritage by abandoning circumcision.

The World Health Organization estimates that approximately eighty million women worldwide have been subjected to this torture, but other estimates are as high as one hundred million. Approximately two million young girls are mutilated each year.

Female genital mutilation is most widely practiced in approximately 25 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. With immigration, the practice of female genital mutilation has spread to other countries as migrants continue traditional practices in their new homes. As cases have been found in Europe and North America, some countries such as France and Canada have passed laws against the practice. The U.S. Congress just passed a resolution opposing FGM and has introduced a bill to work to eradicate the practice.  In a landmark case, a Nigerian woman recently won political asylum in the U.S. because she feared if she returned home with her two daughters, relatives would kidnap the girls and perform the traditional female genital mutilation.80

The practice is often euphemistically called female circumcision but this term diminishes the gruesome realities of FGM. Female genital mutilation is a general term used to describe the practice in which a person who is often unskilled (generally traditional practitioners in a community), and may, without the use of anesthesia, use unclean knives, razors, or even broken glass, to cut off part or whole organs from the vulva of a girl or woman. The practice may also involve the stitching together of the vulva. Besides being excruciating, FGM is very dangerous and results in many physical and mental health consequences. One study found that 83 percent of women whose genitalia had been mutilated required medical attention at some time in their lives for problems related to the procedure.

When the most extensive form of FGM (infibulation) is practiced, or when difficulties in less severe procedures are encountered, death can result from hemorrhage and sepsis. In many women the vagina has to be cut open again in order to have sexual intercourse and to deliver babies. FGM can increase the length of labor by five times, therefore increasing the chance of damage or death to the baby.

In addition to physical health consequences, FGM can have lifelong mental and sexual health consequences. The initial pain of the mutiliation, the pain with sex, and the pain of repeated incisions when required before first sexual intercourse and childbirth, can be traumatic memories that haunt a woman for the rest of her life, causing nightmares, anxiety, and depression.

Women whose normal daily life activities are disrupted by the chronic health problems that can result from FGM can also become severely depressed and sometimes suicidal. If the complications of FGM make a woman unable to have sex and/or to bear children, her husband may abandon her and she may be isolated from the rest of her community. Many women who have undergone FGM are unable to have orgasms and others find vaginal intercourse painful or impossible. Difficulties with a sexual relationship may interfere with a woman’s marital relationship and her mental health.

There are three types of female genital mutilation which are distinguished by the severity of the mutilation.

Type I Sunna - The clitoral hood or prepuce is removed preserving the clitoris itself and the posterior larger parts of the labia minora. (This is the least severe form and resembles male circumcision.)

Type II Excision - A severe form of genital mutilation. There are many local variations of the technique. Usually it consists of the removal of the clitoris (clitoridectomy) as well as parts of the clitoral hood together with adjacent parts of the labia minora or the whole of it without including the labia majora and without closure of the vulva. This type of FGM is the most common in African countries except for Somalia and the Sudan.

Type III Infibulation (pharaonic) - Infibulation is the most severe form of the practice and consists of excision and infibulation of the vulva. Excision involves the removal of the entire clitoris, and the anterior two-thirds (or more ) of the labia minora and the labia majora. The two sides of the vulva are then stitched together, intended to heal in a smooth, flat, hairless area. The vaginal opening is almost completely scarred over, leaving only a small opening to allow urinary and menstrual flow. The stitching together of the vulva after excision is called infibulation. The stitching together is often done with catgut sutures or the wound is glued together with an herbal paste or egg mixture. To allow for the wound to heal the girl’s legs are tied together and she is kept immobile for several weeks until healing is complete.

Though there are often long term health consequences, the immediate health problems that may occur during or soon after all three types of genital mutilation are:

  • Shock

  • Infection

  • HIV infection

  • Hepatitis B

  • Broken bones

  • Failure of healing

  • Tetanus

  • Septicemia (blood poisoning)

  • Injury or trauma to adjoining structures

  • Psychological trauma

  • Hemorrhage

  • Burning on urination

  • Urine retention

  • Death

Reasons for immediate health consequences

The health consequences of FGM are partly the result of the practice being performed with blunt and/or unsterile instruments, unsterile conditions, and unskilled practitioners. These conditions can lead to the wounded areas of the vulva becoming infected, and if the infected area is not treated correctly, healing is delayed and the young girl may contract septicemia (blood poisoning). Septicemia occurs when bacteria from the infection get into the blood stream.

Often no anagesis is used and the young girl experiences great pain which can cause her to scream and cry even after the mutilation is completed. The severe pain may also cause her to go into shock; she may faint and remain unconscious. As the mutilation is performed in the presence of women whom she knows and trusts, the girl may become anxious, depressed, and fearful about their betrayal of her well-being.

Another serious form of infection is tetanus, which often follows within 14 days from the time of the cutting and which specifically results from infection of the nervous system by the tetanus bacteria. Mortality may be as high as 50-60 percent, with most deaths occurring within ten days. Tetanus is more prevalent among people in geographic areas where immunization has been inadequate.

Genital mutilation is usually performed on young girls when the vulva is small. The instruments used for cutting may be too large or blunt, and the person performing the surgery may cut too deeply or cut and injure delicate adjoining structures such as the anus or the urethra or tendons.

There are many blood vessels in the vulva. Hemorrhage, and excessive loss of blood, can result from injury to the vulva or from cutting of a blood vessel in the area. Hemorrhage can cause the young girl or woman to go into shock, and if untreated she may die. Burning on urination and urine retention are very common in the first two to four days after excision and infibulation because of the pain resulting from the urine touching the wound. Or, urine flow can also sometimes be blocked by a fold of skin or a blood clot. If the young girl or woman does not urinate, this can lead to bladder and urinary tract infections.81


Selected Reading  — FGM

Walker, Alice. Possessing the Secret of Joy.
Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Brace, 1992.
Compelling novel by Alice Walker;
does an excellent job of portraying the lifelong damage done to women as well as the cultural conflicts which perpetuate the practice.

Walker, Alice and Parmar, Pratibha. Warrior Marks, Female Genital Mutilation and the Sexual Blinding of Women.  New York:  Harcourt Brace, 1993.
Chronicles the making of a documentary on FGM, interviews with people both concerned with and affected by FGM.

El Saadawi, Nawal. Hidden Face of Eve: Women in the Arab World. London: Zed Books, 1980.

Koso-Thomas, Olayinka. The Circumcision of Women: A Strategy for Eradication.  London:  ZED Books, 1987.

Rutabanzibwa-Ngaiza, Jean, et al. Women and Health in Africa.  EPC Publication 6, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London, 1985.

Thiam, Awa. Black Sisters Speak Out: Feminism and Oppression in Black Africa.
London: Pluto Press, 1986.

Female Genital Mutilation. Module 10 in series - A Training Course in Women’s Health. Institute for Development Training, Chapel Hill, NC. Self-instructional training manual on practice and consequences of FGM.

WIN NEWS, Women’s International Network
187 Grant Street
Lexington, MA  02173; (617) 862-9431
Fran Hoskin-editor. Quarterly publication which
includes events, legislation, actions and organizations all over the world. Great resource for keeping up with international developments affecting women. Dedicated to eliminating FGM for almost two decades.


Warrior Marks
Alice Walker and Pratibha Parmar (made in Africa - many interviews with women concerned with and affected by the practice of FGM in various countries).

Female Circumcision
Louise Panton, BBC Enterprises Ltd, Kensington House, London W14 OAX, UK.,  1983  (shows the health problems associated with circumcision).

Cruel Ritual
Louise Panton, BBC Enterprises Ltd, Kensington House, London W14 OAX, UK, 1991 (investigative report on female mutilation in the UK).

Penny Dedman, Concord Video Films, 201 Felixstowe Road, Ipswich, Suffolk, 1P3 9BJ, UK, 1990 (examines history and philosophy of FGM) .


Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development (FORWARD)
38 King Street
London WC2E 8JT UK

Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children
c/o Economic Commission for Africa
P.O. Box 3001;  Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel: 25-11-51 57 93/51 72 00 Fax: 51 46 82
Also:  147 rue de Lausanne
CH-1202 Geneva, Switzerland
Tel:( 41-22) 732 08 21 or 731 24 20     
Fax: (41-22) 738 18 23

London Black Women’s Health Action Project
Bancroft Library
Bancroft Road
London E14 BU  United Kingdom

The Minority Rights Group
379 Brixton Road
London SW9 7DE UK
Tel: +44 (0) 71-978 9498     Fax: +44 (0) 71-738 6265

UN Working Group on Traditional Practices
UN Human Rights Centre; Palais des Nations
CH-1202 Geneva, Switzerland

Commission Internationale pour l’Abolition des Mutilations Sexuelles (CAMS)
President Ms AWA Thiam
B.P. 811;  Dakar, Senegal

UN Center for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs
P.O. Box 500, A-1400
Vienna, Austria
Homepage:  http://www.holfield.org/ ~xastur/advocacy.htmluncs.dha.

Women’s Health in Women’s Hands
344 Dupont Street, Suite 106
Toronto, Ontario  MSR 1V9   Canada



Since men wield the world’s political power and are the perpetrators of violence against women, it will be very difficult to eradicate violence without the cooperation and active support of men. Some men recognize this and have made an active commitment to educating and organizing their brothers in order to change things. Across the U.S. there are many local men’s groups working to prevent rape and violence and to counsel and treat men who batter. Many campuses now have escort services staffed by male student volunteers who accompany women at night to their dorms from libraries and other campus centers. Men’s groups in both the Boston area and the San Francisco Bay area have been especially active and have served as models for other programs around the country.

Following is a listing of some men’s organizations working to eliminate violence against women:

Some National Organizations and Model Programs

EMERGE (a counseling service for men who batter)
18 Hurley St. #23
Cambridge, MA 02141
Tel: (617) 547-9879

Ending Men’s Violence Network
(National Organization for Men)
Homepage:  http://www.spacestar.com/users/abtnomas/
I nitiated Brotherpeace, which sponsors an international day of men taking action to end men’s violence.

Joseph Weinberg Associates
839 Williamson Street, Apt. 3
Madison, WI  53703
Tel. (608) 251-2821     Fax:  (608) 251-1669
(Pioneer in educating men in universities, high schools, prisons, and military about rape, homophobia, and developing non-abusive masculinity.  Available for training nationally)

Men Against Domestic Violence
Attn:  Babatunde Folayerni
814 Laguna St.
Santa Barbara, CA  93101
e-mail:  Janet Murphy, http://www.silcom.com/~paladin/madv/
Coalition of men working to address issues of domestic violence.  They see violence against women as a men’s issue.

Men Against Pornography
P.O. Box 150786
Brooklyn, NY  11215-0786
Men Against Pornography is a group of profeminist men in New York City who want to help create sexual justice and who believe that pornography stands in the way of it.  Since our founding in 1984, we have received numerous requests for help in assisting men to deal honestly and openly with pornography.  In addition to leading workshops and initiating protests, members of Men Against Pornography have been featured on many local and national TV and radio broadcasts, including Donahue and Sally Jessy Raphael, and in periodicals such as Ms, Changing Men, and The Activist Men’s Journal.

Men Stopping Rape
306 North Brook Street
Madison, WI  53715
Tel. (608) 257-4444  
(Produces educational literature)

Men’s Anti-Rape Resource Center (MARC)
P.O. Box 73559
Washington, DC  20056
Tel:  (301) 386-2737

Men’s Network for Change
Homepage:  http://infoweb.magicom/~mensnet/

Men’s Rape Prevention Project
2111 Florida Ave. NW
Washington, DC  20008
Tel:  (202) 265-6530
e-mail:  mardc@womensnet.org
Serving DC and the Mid-Atlantic states since 1987, MRPP is a profeminist organization challenging expressions of male domination by working to prevent rape and other forms of male violence.  Through community education, consulting, research and public action, MRPP supports men by providing them with resources and opportunities to challenge themselves and others to end sexual violence; commonly known as DC Men Against Rape.

Meninist — “We are the Same”
P.O. Box 20553
Cherokee Station
New York, NY  10021-0070
Homepage:  http://www.feminist.com/men.htm
A global organization of men that believes in a woman’s right for equality in society . . . especially in the workplace.  The organization works:  a) to oppose all macho behavior and obscene sexist attitudes; b) for reproductive freedom and women’s own control over their bodies; c) to oppose all violence against women including rape, sexual harassment and domestic violence, as well as negative stereotypes and violence against women in film, television and advertising; d) for male participation in ending 2000 years of patriarchy, supporting women and sharing household and parenting responsibilities; e) for same work, same pay.

Mentors in Violence Prevention Project
Jackson Katz
716 Columbus Place, Suite 161
Boston, MA 02120
Tel:(617) 373-4256, ext. 4025     
Fax:  (617) 373-4566
This program targets male athletes because they have visibility and status, and trains them to be peer educators. The purpose is to help men understand and take responsibility for stopping violence against women. Graduates of the program often go into public schools to speak with younger men about these issues. This pilot project of Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society was funded by the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). Organizers hope it will serve as a model for programs in universities across the country.

MESA - Men to End Sexual Assault
P.O. Box 681
Cambridge, MA  02139
Boston Rape Crisis Center project.

Michigan State University Libraries.  Changing Men Collection.  Special Collections Division.  
Homepage: http:// www.lib.msu.edu/coll/ main/spec_col/radicalism/men.ht m .  

National Organization for Men Against Sexism
Ending Men’s Violence Task Force
50 Wyman Street
Arlington, MA  02174

Oakland Men’s Project
1222 Preservation Park Way
Oakland, CA  94612-1201
Tel: (510) 835-2433     Fax:  (510) 835-2466
e-mail:  oakmenproj@aol.com
Conducts workshops on understanding the roots of male violence, including racism, sexism, sexual harassment, and heterosexism, in order to change abusive behavior and break the cycle of violence.

Real Men
P.O. Box 1769
Brookline, MA  02146
Tel:  (617) 782-7838     Fax:  (617) 327-1093
Public education and political action.


Selected Readings

Benecke, T. Men on Rape: What They Have to Say About Sexual Violence.  New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1982. Early pro-feminist men’s classic. Integrates interviews with analysis of male anger and sexual violence.

Funk, Rus Ervin. Stopping Rape: A Challenge For Men. Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1993.
An excellent introduction to the concept of rape as a men’s issue. Includes concrete suggestions for strategies to involve men in anti-rape education.

Kimmel, M. and Mosmiller, T. (eds.) Against the Tide: Pro-Feminist Men in the United States, 1776-1990. Boston: Beacon Press, 1992. An indispensable documentary history featuring classic and contemporary pro-feminist men’s writing, from Thomas Paine to John Lennon.

Kivel, P. Men’s Work: How to Stop the Violence That Tears Our Lives Apart.  New York: Ballantine Books, 1992. An enormously useful examination of some of the cultural, racial, and ethnic roots of male violence, by one of the co-founders of the Oakland Men’s Project. Includes many practical exercises and role plays.

Messner, Michael. Power at Play: Sports and the Problem of Masculinity.  Boston: Beacon Press, 1992. Introduces readers to the idea of understanding gender through examining (male) experiences in the sports culture. Especially appropriate for current and ex-athletes and sports fans.

Miedzian, M. Boys Will be Boys: Breaking the Link Between Masculinity and Violence.
New York: Doubleday, 1991. An excellent discussion of the biological and cultural roots of violent masculinity in the U.S. Required reading for parents of boys.

Sonkin Daniel Jay and Durphy, Michael.  Learning to Live Without Violence:  A Handbook for Men.  Volcano, CA:  Volcano Press, 1989.  Provides a clear rationale as well as carefully spelled out steps for a successful therapeutic program with men who batter women.

Stoltenberg, J. Refusing to Be A Man: Essays on Sex and Justice.  Portland: Breitenbush Books, 1990.  Powerful essays on male sexual identity, pornography, and violence by an experienced anti-sexist activist.

Stoltenberg, J. The End of Manhood: A Book for Men of Conscience. New York: Dutton, 1993. The author argues that men who care about gender justice need to choose between the “myth of manhood” and moral self-hood. A thoughtful pro-feminist response to the mythopoetic romanticization of “deep Masculinity.”

  • Book list prepared by Jonathan Katz of the
    Mentors in Violence Prevention Project


For some women the only person, outside the family, with whom they would discuss something as painful and personal as rape, sexual abuse or domestic violence is their clergy person. For this reason, and because it is such a prevalent social problem, church people, especially clergy, need to be informed on the issues of violence against women and need to be trained to help women confront these problems.  For many years the Rev. Marie M. Fortune has been a moving force and a powerful voice of reason and conscience in the effort to get churches and clergy to confront issues of sexual and domestic violence.  She pioneered this work in 1977 by founding the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence.  The Center is an interreligious, educational ministry serving both the religious and secular communities, and publishes a quarterly news journal Working Together.  Some of the Women’s Offices of the national denominations have programs and resources for confronting different aspects of violence against women. A partial listing of these follows:

Rev. Marie M. Fortune
Executive Director
Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence

936 North 34th, Suite 200
Seattle, WA  98103
Tel: (206) 634-1903   Fax: (206) 634-0115
e-mail:  cpsdv@cpsdv.seanet.com
Homepage:  http://www.cpsdv.org

Ms. Else Mia Adjali
United Methodist Church Center for the United Nations

777 United Nations Plaza, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Tel: (212) 682-3633 and  (212) 870-3874     
Fax:  (212) 682-5354

Ms. Elizabeth Calvin - Executive Secretary
Ministries With Women and Children

United Methodist Church
475 Riverside Drive Room 1330
New York, NY 10115
Tel: (212) 870-3707     Fax:  (212) 870-3932 or (212) 870-3686
e-mail:  ecalvin@gbgm-umc.org

Ms. Lois M. Powell - Executive Director
Coordinating Center for Women in Church and Society

United Church of Christ
700 Prospect Ave. East
Cleveland, OH 44115
Tel: (216) 736-2150     Fax:  (216) 736-2156
e-mail:  powelll@ucc.org

Ms. Peggy Halsey
Executive Secretary, Ministries of Women and Families in Crisis
United Methodist Church

475 Riverside Drive Room 1549
New York, NY 10115
Tel: (212) 870-3833     Fax:  (212) 870-3948
e-mail:  phalsey@gbgm-umc.org

Ms. Karen Hessel
Program Director for Justice for Women
National Council of Churches

475 Riverside Drive Room 572
New York, NY 10115
Tel: (212) 870-2421     Fax:  (212) 870-2265
e-mail:  KAREN_HESSEL@ecunet.org

Office for Women’s Advocacy
Presbyterian Church (USA)

100 Witherspoon Street
Louisville, KY 40202-1396
Tel: (502) 569-5403     Fax:  (502) 569-8600
e-mail:  unzul@ctr.pcusa.org

Ms. Christina Van Eyl
Executive Director
Reformed Church Women’s Ministries

4500 60th St. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49512
Tel: (616) 698-7071   Fax: (616) 698-6606

Ms. Joanne Chadwick
ELCA Commission for Women

8765 West Higgins
Chicago, IL 60631
Tel: (773) 380-2700  Fax: (312) 380-1465
also:  Rev. Marta L Poling-Goldenne
Associate Director for Evangelism
of Division for Congregational Ministries

(same address)
Tel: (312) 380-2476

Ms. Ann Smith
Director, Women in Mission and Ministry
The Episcopal Church Center

815 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017-4594
Tel:  (212) 922-5354     Fax:  (212) 867-7652
Homepage:  http://www.ecusa.anglican.org.//woman

Ms. Annie Wilson, Program Director
First Asylum Concerns
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

390 Park Ave. South
New York, NY 10016-8803
Tel: (212) 532-6350     Fax:  (212) 683-1329

SELECTED READINGS — Church and Clergy

Bussert, Joy M.K. Battered Women: From a Theology of Suffering to an Ethic of Empowerment. Division for Mission in North America, Lutheran Church in America, 1986.

Clarke, Rita-Lou. Pastoral Care of Battered Women. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1986.

Dobash, R. Emerson and Dobash, Russell. Violence Against Wives: A Case Against the Patriarchy. New York: Macmillan Pub., 1979.

Fortune, Marie M. “The Church and Domestic Violence.” TSF Bulletin, pp. 17-21, 8#2, Nov-Dec 1984.

Denise Hormann. Family Violence: A Workshop Manual for Clergy and Other Service Providers. Seattle: Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence, 1980.

Keeping the Faith. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1987.

Sexual Violence - The Unmentionable Sin: An Ethical and Pastoral Perspective. New York: The Pilgrim Press, 1983.

Horton, Anne L. and Williamson, J.A. Abuse and Religion: When Praying Is Not Enough. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1988.

Liaboe, Gary P. “The Place of Wife Battering in Considering Divorce.” Journal of Psychology and Theology, pp. 129-138, Vol. 13, Sum. 85.

Pellauer, Mary. “Violence Against Women: The Theological Dimension.” Christianity and Crisis, pp. 206-212, Vol. 43, #9, May 30, 1986.

Peterson, Kenneth W. “Wife Abuse: The Silent Crime, The Silent Church.” Christianity Today, Nov. 25, 1983.

Thistlewaite, Susan Brooks. “Battered Women and the Bible: From Subjection to Liberation,” Christianity and Crisis, pp. 3038-313, Vol.41, #18, Nov. 16, 1981.

Winters, Mary S. Laws Against Sexual and Domestic Violence: A Concise Guide for Clergy and Laity. New York: The Pilgrim Press, 1988.

  • Excerpts of Bibliography from Domestic Violence -
    A Guide For Clergy, N.J. Dept. of Community Affairs, 1990


“Not in My Church”

This video tells the story of one church faced with the betrayal of trust by its minister . . . A story that could happened in any church.  This resource will help people deal with the problem of clergy misconduct involving sexual abuse within the ministerial relationship.  A complete study guide and awareness brochures are included.

“Not in My Congregation”

Intended for Jewish audiences, this version of the docudrama “Not in My Church” includes an introduction by a rabbi, stressing how the subject affects the Jewish community.

“Hear Their Cries:  Religious Responses to Child Abuse”

This documentary addresses the role of clergy and lay leaders in preventing child abuse.  This resource includes interviews with Jewish and Christian clergy and secular professionals, stories of adult survivors of physical and sexual abuse and a dramatic vignette demonstrating appropriate responses to disclosure.  A complete study guide and awareness brochures are included.

“Bless Our Children:  Preventing Sexual Abuse”

This companion piece to “Hear Their Cries:  Religious Responses to Child Abuse” is designed to help churches and synagogues implement a child abuse prevention curriculum.  It is the story of how one religious community decided to use a curriculum and how they worked to make it possible.  This video shows the process a congregation can go through to prepare itself, helps allay fears about using curricula and highlights the importance of abuse prevention in local congregations.  The video is accompanied by 25 awareness brochure and a study guide.

“Broken Vows:  Religious Perspectives on Domestic Violence”

Explores the role of Christian and Jewish communities as resources for healing.  Includes stories of formerly battered women and interviews with shelter workers, clergy, and therapists

All videos in this list are available from the Center for Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence:

Tel:  (206) 634-1903     
Fax:  (206) 634-0115


Fighting Back, Standing Up, Speaking Out

Just as women all over the world have been abused, suppressed, and limited, they have also come up with bold and creative responses to call attention to and demand an end to the violence which they experience in  many aspects of their lives.

The following examples might serve as ideas and inspiration for action:

In many places women hold “Take Back the Night” demonstrations with testimonies by rape victims and advocates, information on resources, actions, legislation etc., candlelight vigils, and marches to areas where women have been raped.

Drawing a human outline and writing “A woman was raped here” helps makes rape visible.

In South Africa a man who had raped others in the past was released from jail after assaulting, stabbing and raping a 59-year-old woman. The Port Alfred Women’s Association (PAWO) organized an all-woman, stay-away-from-work demanding that the man be charged for the crime and that white women in town come to speak with women in the township to become informed of the problems of the township women. Due to the PAWO protest, the man was charged with assault (not with rape) but the township people were so angry that he had to leave the community and live elsewhere.  (NCADV Update June/July 1993)

In Dhulia (N. Maharashtra State in India) local women have succeeded in putting an end to wife beating in fifty to one hundred villages. Though these poor women worked alongside their husbands in farming and organizing for fair wages, their husbands still came home and beat them up.  The women organized themselves and “marched on the local brewery, broke the pots and bottles of liquor, and threatened to tie up anyone who dared brew liquor again.... When any man beat his wife, the other women marched to the house and compelled him to apologize to his wife, promising never to beat her again. When one of the women agricultural laborers was raped by a landowner she denounced him in her own and other villages. The women then dragged the landowner out of his house, smeared him with cow dung and black soot, made him sit on a donkey and took him around to all the villages.” (“Women and Health,” Agha Khan UNICEF paper, p. 51)

In certain barrios in Lima, Peru women demonstrated directly in front of houses where domestic violence was known to occur, resulting in some decrease in wife abuse.(One World, October 1991)

“By forging grief into rage into action, a few politically inexperienced Argentinean women have built an internationally respected human rights movement. It began 17 years ago, when a small group of homemakers dared to gather in Buenos Aires’s Plaza de Mayo, protesting the disappearance — and probable deaths — of their daughters and sons at the hand of the military regime. Since then, the mothers have marched weekly, risking their lives to demand answers, even after one of their leaders, Azucena de De Vincente, was ‘disappeared’ in 1977.  ‘Maybe it was because we gave birth to our children that we forgot about the fear,’ says Juana Pagament. Although the junta was replaced by a democratic government in 1983, only a few of its leaders have been prosecuted for the reign of terror, during which 30,000 people were kidnapped, jailed, tortured, or killed. So the mothers still march, commemorating their children by calling for justice.”  (Ms. Jan./Feb 1995 p. 73)

Similar groups were formed in other Latin American countries where military dictatorships ruled during much of the 1970s and 80s. In Guatemala, where today the military continues to kidnap and kill dissidents, the organization Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo (GAM) was formed by women who kept seeing each other in morgues as they were searching for  “disappeared” loved ones. Several members of this group have been kidnapped, tortured, and killed just for demanding information and speaking out about  missing friends and family members.

From the time of the suffragists, women have used fasting and hunger strikes to call attention to social and political injustice. In Guatemala recently, through a public fast, Jennifer Harbury was able to gain international support in her efforts to force the Guatemalan government to release information about the murder of her husband by security forces.

In London a battered woman, Sara Thornton, went on a three week hunger strike when the same court which gave her a life sentence for killing her abusive husband acquitted a man for killing his wife. As a result of her efforts a nationwide campaign was begun to reform England’s 1957 Homicide Act. (Ms. Nov./Dec. 1991)

Popular theater has been used by women in many countries as an educational and organizing tool.

“In Kingston, Jamaica, three groups use popular theater for prevention education on gender violence. The artistic collective Sistern uses interactive workshops and street theater to prompt discussions on issues of domestic violence and rape. The Women’s Media Watch protests violence and objectionable portrayals of women in the media and uses theater work with young people to help them grapple with complex questions relating to sexuality and sexual violence. Teens in Action, a community group formed after the brutal rape and murder of a young girl, performs drama to encourage critical reflection in their neighborhood on issues of sexuality, male/female relationships, and rape. (Violence Against Women - the Hidden Health Burden, Lori Heise, p. 37)

Taking Care Of Business — Working To Change The System

Women all over the world have worked for  years to gain legal rights and protection, and to sensitize public officials and institutions to the need for special treatment for victims of rape and domestic violence.  In many countries they have succeeded in changing the institutional response to these problems.

One of the most important measures which has been adopted in many places is the formation of women-only police stations, “an innovation that has spread from Brazil to Colombia, Uruguay, Peru, Costa Rica and Argentina.” Though there are also problems with these stations, they do make it easier and thus more likely that women will report abuse. In Brazil where there are at least 125 such stations, “Because they encourage women to come forward, they have helped deter violence among men who worry about being reported to the police.”

“In Malaysia the Joint Action Group Against Violence Against Women organized a major media campaign against rape, initiated dialogue with the police and the medical professions, and successfully lobbied for the creation of women-only rape teams on the police force.”

“In the U.S. feminist lawyers organized the Judicial Education Program to Promote Equality for Women and Men in the Courts,”  which has gotten half the states to set up “gender bias” task forces to “detect and attack sexism in the courts.” The “devastating testimony by victims of abuse about their mistreatment in the courts has resulted in the recall of some judges and increased training for prosecutors and judges.”

“In Harare, Zimbabwe, The Musassa Project works with local police and prosecutors to sensitize them to issues of domestic violence and rape.”

  • Above examples from “Violence Against Women -
    Hidden Health Burden”  World Bank Discussion Papers #255, Lori Heise


Claiming, Naming, Keeping Hope and
Memory Alive

For the past few decades women have been organizing safe spaces for their sisters who have suffered violent abuse. Both rape crisis centers and battered women’s shelters have provided women with protection, legal assistance, and other forms of support. Though many of these centers now have public support from local governments, most began as grassroots efforts — often in people’s homes. These movements began in developed countries but are spreading to other parts of the world.

After women survive trauma or get out of violent situations, they need  help to integrate and heal from their experiences. Many creative things are being done by women to facilitate this process:

In Guayaquil, Ecuador, the Centro de Acción de la Mujer works with the Laubach Literacy Project to provide legal counsel, job skills and literacy training to victims of violence. One of the most popular programs is the creative writing workshop which provides women the opportunity to heal by writing about their experiences. This program has helped many women develop confidence and self esteem.  Emelda Valdez, a former “battered woman” who participated in the project, has now become a published poet and is going to law school so she can help other women in violent situations. (Ed Griffin-Nolan, freelance writer)

In Canada, where eight out of ten aboriginal women experience family violence, women of the Hollow Water Reserve in Manitoba began using the traditional Circle of Healing as a way to deal with violence in their communities. They involved elders and spiritual leaders as a way to get through to men and to help with their healing. “Aboriginal people believe that violence is a learned behavior and that it must be unlearned. So, in dealing with violence against women, they emphasize the need to heal the whole community and to develop holistic, culturally appropriate, community based solutions based on the traditional ‘four directions’:  honesty, kindness, sharing, and strength.” The Circle of Healing is now being used by many aboriginal groups in Canada.  (“Linking Global Strategies to End Violence,” Match International, p. 10-17)

In December 1990 with the Gulf War imminent, women from many countries organized “The Women’s Ship for Peace,” which sailed from Algiers carrying medicine, sugar, and powdered milk for Iraqi children.” Though the women were delayed, threatened, harassed, and attacked by soldiers of different countries they were able to make a small contribution and a great gesture in the face of the total devastation of that war. (Ms. March/April 1991)

Women have made many efforts to reach out  and  help one another heal through various types of women’s spaces: bookstores, coffee shops, music festivals, retreat centers, etc.  Music is always a wonderful vehicle for healing. At “New Song” festivals women from different sides of political conflicts perform together. Women from Israel and Palestine have performed on stage together, as have Irish Catholics and Protestants, and black and white women from South Africa.

Though women need to heal their lives and move beyond their suffering, it is important that we always remember and honor those women who have died as a result of violence.

Often people remember rape victims by marking the scene of the attack with crosses or other symbols.  For example, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where a woman was shot to death by her assailant near a busy jogging trail, activists memorialized the spot by placing flowers, wreaths, notes, photos, and candles.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence is creating a national registry to increase public awareness of domestic violence.

In the Sept./Oct. 1994 issue of Ms. the names of women victims of domestic violence were printed on the cover, front and back.

The Clothesline Project was begun by a group of women in Massachusetts in 1990 as a visual display to bear witness to violence against women.  A clothesline is hung with tee-shirts decorated to represent a particular woman’s experience, by the survivor herself or someone who cares about her. The purpose is four-fold.

1. To bear witness to the survivors as well as the victims of the war against women;

2. To help with the healing process for survivors and families who have lost a loved one;

3. To educate, document, and raise society’s awareness of the extent of the problem of violence against women;

4. To provide a nationwide network of support, encouragement and information for other communities starting their own Clothesline Project.

There are now Clothesline Projects across the country and around the world. Contact:

The Clothesline Project
Box 727
East Dennis, Mass. 02641
Tel: (508) 385-7004     Fax: (508) 385-7001  


There are growing efforts to build bridges between the North and South so that organizations all over the world can work together, sharing experiences, energy and strategies to stop violence against women. Following are just a few of the organizations working on violence against women from an international perspective:

Boston Women’s Health Book Collective
240 A. Elm Street (3rd Floor)
Somerville, MA 02144
Tel: (617) 625-0271     Fax: (617) 625-0294
Homepage:  http://www.primenet.com/~bandd/cryo/
The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective is a non-profit women’s health education, advocacy and consulting organization.  Since the mid-70s BWHBC has been part of the women’s health movement, maintaining links with health networks and women’s groups throughout the world.  The groundbreaking Our Bodies, Ourselves was first published by BWHBC in 1971 and has been adapted and translated into more than a dozen languages.

Center for Women’s Leadership
27 Clifton Avenue
New Brunswick, NJ  08901
Tel: (908) 932-8782     Fax:  (908) 932-1180
e-mail:  cwg@igc.apc.org
The Center embraces the concerns of women from diverse regions and ethnic backgrounds with a focus on topics critical to women’s lives globally. Each June the Center holds a Woman’s Global Leadership Institute — a number
of participants testified at the International Hearing in New York which was the basis for the video that accompanies this guide.

Health and Development Policy Project
6930 Carroll Ave., Suite 430
Takoma park, MD  20912
Tel:  (301) 270-1182     Fax:  (301) 270-2052
e-mail:  lheise@igc.apc.org
The Health and Development Policy Project (HDPP) is a research and advocacy organization dedicated to integrating concern for gender and social justice into international health policy and practice.  HDPP’s Gender Violence Initiative works to improve the quality and quantity of research available worldwide on violence against women and to engage health workers as constructive against in the battle against abuse.

Institute for Development Training
212 East Rosemary St.
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Tel: (919) 967-0563     Fax: (919)929-2353
e-mail:  IDT@nuteknet.com

Women’s Commission
International Rescue Committee
122 E. 42 St.
New York, NY 10168-1289
Tel:  (212) 551-3086

International Women’s Rights Action Watch (IWRAW); Women, Public Policy and Development Project
Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
University of Minnesota
301-19th Ave. South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Tel: (612) 625-5093     Fax: (612) 624-0068
e-mail:  IWRAW@hhh.umn.edu
Homepage coordinator:  Ellen Carlson, e-mail:  ecarlson@www.hhh.umn.edu
Current URL:  http://www.hhh.umn.edu/Centers/ WPP/research.html
IWRAW is an international network of activists, scholars and organizations that focus on the advancement of women’s human rights. The IWRAW project serves this international network by providing technical assistance and research support for women’s human rights projects such as law reform and policy advocacy, funding referrals, giving support to training and public education projects conducted by nongovernmental groups in developing countries, reviewing and publicizing the work of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and supplying information on the human rights of women to other international human rights bodies.  IWRAW also publishes a quarterly newsletter, Women’s Watch.

International Women’s Tribune Center
777 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017
Tel: (212) 687- 8633     Fax:  (212) 661-2704
e-mail:  iwtc@igc.apc.org
The IWTC provides technical assistance in “women and development” focusing on organizing, appropriate technology, community economic development and communications.

Isis International - Manila
P.O. Box 1837
Quezon City Main
Quezon City 1100
Tel: (632) 96-72-97     Fax:  (632) 92-41-065
e-Mail:  Isis@Phil.gn.apc.org
Casilla 2067 -Correo Central
Santiago, Chile
Tel: (562) 633-4582     Fax: (562) 638-3142
Isis International is an international women’s NGO founded in 1974.  It aims to empower women through information-sharing, communication and networking.  Its network reaches over 50,000 individuals and organizations in 150 countries.

121 West 27th Street, Room 301
New York, NY  10001
Tel: (212) 627-0444     Fax:  (212) 675-3704
e-mail:  madre@igc.apc.org
MADRE is a 20,000 member, multi-racial, cross-class, international women’s organization. Since we began in 1983, the organization has delivered over $6 million in medical and educational support and services to women and children in Central America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, the former Yugoslavia and the United States.  MADRE’s primary objective is to promote the economic and social development and political empowerment of women.  Programs help ensure that development by working with community-based women’s organizations, responding to their needs and, when called upon, offering skills training that will secure their long-term autonomy.

Match International Centre
401 171 Nepean Street
Ottawa, Ontario K2P 0B4   Canada
Tel:  (1) 613-2S8-1312
Match International has developed a resource kit “Linking Global Struggles to End Violence" in which women from developing countries and Canada share their experiences.

Jeanne Betsock Stillman
Violence Against Women Action Project
166 Edgars Lane
Hastings-on-Hudson, NY 10706
Tel: (914) 478-3450
The VAWAP is a volunteer effort to promote education, advocacy and action about global violence against women.

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
International WILPF
1 rue de Varembé, 4th Floor
1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland
Tel: (41-22) 733-6175     Fax:  (41-22) 740-1063
e-mail:  womensleague@gn.apc.org
US Section Office:
1213 Race Street
Philadelphia, PA  19107
Tel:  (215) 563-7110     Fax:  (215) 563-5527
e-mail:  wiipfnatl@igc.apc.org
The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom has been working since 1915 to unite women worldwide who oppose oppression and exploitation, and militarism.   WILPF is an advocacy, education and activist organization with sections in 32 countries coordinated by an international office in Geneva.

WIN (Women’s International Network) NEWS
187 Grant Street
Lexington, MA 02173
Tel: (617) 862-9431
Quarterly publication which
includes events, legislation, actions and organizations all over the world. Great resource for keeping up with international developments affecting women. Dedicated to eliminating FGM for almost two decades.

Women’s International Public Health Network (WIPHN)
7100 Oak Forest Lane
Bethesda, MD 20817
Tel: (301) 469-9210 Fax: (301) 469-8423
WIPHN provides women in the field of public health with an opportunity to work together to improve women’s health worldwide.

Women’s Rights Project
Human Rights Watch
1522 K St., N.W. Suite 910
Washington, DC 20005-1202
Tel: (202) - 371-6592  Fax: 202-371-0124
e-mail:  hrwdc@hrw.org
Documents female-specific forms of human rights abuses globally. It focuses on what kinds of human rights abuses force women to become refugees, and how the recognition of those abuses could help refugees.

Women’s Work
c/o PT&Co
320 West 13th Street
New York, NY  10014
Tel:  (212) 229-0500    Fax:  (212) 229-0523
Liz Claiburn, Inc. funds and supports positive social change through Women’s Work.


In many countries women have successfully lobbied for  laws to protect women and prosecute perpetrators of rape, wife abuse, etc. While laws seldom address the root  cause, they at least signal recognition of issues. There are still  problems with interpretation and enforcement but many countries have improved their laws in recent years regarding the treatment of women.

Some encouraging examples are:

Mexico has revised its rape law, making rape a crime against morality (instead of a violation of freedom), greatly expanding the definition of rape, and eliminating the clause which protected men who rape minors from prosecution if they agreed to marry the victim.

In the Philippines 14 women’s groups worked together to get  a very progressive rape law introduced in Congress with an expanded definition of rape defining rape as a crime against the person (not her chastity).

“A growing number of governments, including some in the developing world (the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Malaysia, Puerto Rico), have passed laws or reformed their penal codes to criminalize domestic violence.  And a substantial number of countries — including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela — have bills under consideration (as of 1993).

  •  Violence Against Women - the Hidden Health Burden
    World Bank Discussion Papers #255,
    Lori Heise, 1994

The National Front

In the U.S. the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994 was signed into law by President Clinton on September 13. Congress allocated 1.6 billion dollars over the next six years for provisions which include:

Improved law enforcement, prosecution, and victim services in cases of  violent crimes against women.  

A national domestic violence hotline.

Increased security on the streets, in public transportation, and in public spaces.

Stiffer federal penalties for sex crimes.

New evidentiary rules to better protect victims of sexual assault.

Enhanced rape prevention and education programs, particularly in schools.

Funding for victims of child abuse and for runaway and homeless youth at risk for sexual abuse.

Federal crimes penalties for anyone who crosses state lines to injure a spouse.

Mandatory arrest in cases of domestic violence.

Education for police, prosecutors, and judges about domestic violence.

Funding for battered women’s shelters.

Improved prosecution of domestic violence and child abuse in rural areas.

Establishment of federal civil rights cause of action for victims of gender-motivated crimes of violence.

New policies allowing battered immigrant spouses to petition for legal resident status.

  • (Ms. Jan/Feb 1995 p. 53)

Schroeder Resolution on Female Genital Mutilation

On June 7, 1995 the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution offered by Rep. Pat Schroeder, urging the President to help end the practice of female genital mutilation. The resolution urges the President to actively encourage other nations where female genital mutilation takes place to create clear policies against it, enforce laws banning it and provide education and counseling about its dangers. It also urges the President to ensure that international programs in which the United States participates include an FGM component.

According to Representative Schroeder “This is the first time Congress has recognized that women’s rights are human rights.”

The Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act

On February 14, a bipartisan group of House members led by Representative Pat Schroeder introduced H.R. 941, The Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act of 1995 which criminalizes FGM for girls younger than 18 and requires Health and Human Services to identify and educate communities in this country that practice FGM, make recommendations to medical schools for treatment of its complications, and compile statistics on women living here who have undergone it. This bill passed in 1996 under the immigration clause of Women’s Health Equity Act.

Lottenberg Amendment
Domestic Violence Gun Ban Bill

In September 1996 this controversial amendment passed as a rider to the Federal Budget.  Basically, it states that public law enforcement personnel who have been convicted of an act of domestic violence cannot carry a firearm.  The surprise repercussion has been that dozens of policemen across the country have had to turn in their weapons because they have domestic violence convictions on their records.  Commentators on a recent television special suggested that when put into practice across the country there will be thousands of officers who can no longer carry weapons.  One of the most controversial aspects of the amendment is the retroactive aspect.  Rep. Barr of Georgia is introducing an amendment to minimize or remove the current amendment, which will be debated by a joint session of Congress.

H.R. 1191 and S. 524 Victims of Abuse Access to Health Insurance Act

(Introduced by Rep. Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Wellstone (D-MN) The bill is designed to prohibit insurance companies from considering domestic violence as a pre-existing condition and “engaging in a practice that has the effect of denying, canceling, or limiting health insurance coverage or health benefits” for victims of domestic violence. Under this law, companies continuing to engage in this practice can be held civilly and criminally liable.  This bill passed August 21, 1996 as part of the Kennedy Kassbaum Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

  • Legislative briefs from National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

The Following Legislation Is Pending:

S.282 The Domestic Violence Community Response Team Act

(Introduced Jan. 26, by Senators Bradley, Hatfield and Wellstone) This bill would enable communities to develop a comprehensive strategy to intervene and prevent domestic violence. It would improve and coordinate the efforts of law enforcement and service programs to assist victims, provide funding for teams of victim advocates to work with police, and enable victims to receive on-site support as well as information and follow-up services.

H.R. 1521 and S. 697 Domestic Violence Identification and Referral Act

(Introduced April 7 by Rep. Wyden (D-OR) Representative Fox (R-PA) and Senator Boxer (D-CA) The bill provides for the inclusion of information and training in domestic violence in the curriculum of medical schools and other health professions.  Under this amendment to the Public Health Services Act, schools would need to provide “significant training” for students in “identifying, examining, treating and referring patients who are victims of domestic violence” in order to gain a preferential status for receiving federal funds. (Will be reintroduced in 105 Congress – 1997)

The International Front

Women NGO delegates to the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights helped draft the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1993. Though most observers recognize shortcomings in the document, it is considered a landmark because it “is the first universal legal instrument aimed specifically at combatting violence against women and putting that abuse on the map of international human rights legislation.”  The declaration broadly defines what constitutes an act of violence against women and calls on governments and the international community to take specific measures to prevent such acts.  (Women U.N. background paper)

(The United Nations is a huge, unwieldy bureaucracy with tremendous internal contradictions in terms of the treatment of  U.N. spouses and female staff. Also the U.N. has no real power to enforce it’s various treaties, covenants and instruments, but they are symbolically significant, and set a standard toward which to aim.)

ISIS International prepared this outline of the major United Nations instruments which deal with women’s human rights:

  • U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) plus two International Covenants (economic, social and cultural rights; civil and political rights). These are statements of principal.

  • U.N. Human Rights Treaties. Once conventions are approved by the U.N. General Assembly and enter into force, they must be ratified by individual member states.

  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Adopted in 1979 and serviced by the Vienna based Branch for the Advancement of Women.  (has been accepted by 133 countries though many countries have placed reservations on key areas which conflict with religious or cultural views especially with regard to marriage and family law - an area notorious for discrimination against women (from Women - UN Background Paper).

  • Conventions against Genocide; Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment; Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation and Prostitution of Others; Racial Discrimination, etc.  Also, the four 1949 Geneva Conventions, which establish humanitarian rules applicable to international armed conflicts.

U.N. Commissions. These Geneva based information and policy recommendation programs have no mechanism for implementation:

  • Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)

  • Commission on Human Rights

  • U.N. International Court of Justice.  Based in the Hague, Netherlands and successor to the World Court, it hears questions of international law

  • (Women’s Health Journal 1/93 ISIS International)


Women in Cyberspace

As the Internet has grown almost exponentially in the past few years, the participation of and impact on women’s organizations has been remarkable. Increasingly, women’s groups around the world are using electronic communication both for accessing information and for networking around specific issues and events. Electronic communication played a critical role in the planning and organizing of the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in September 1995. The computer center organized by the Association for Progressive Communication (APC) was one of the most vital areas of the conference.

The Plan for Action adopted at the Beijing Conference recognized the significance of the rapid increase and changes in the realm of electronic technologies,  and addressed both the positive possibilities and potential problems which these new technologies present to women. The cyber revolution has  tremendous potential for democratizing access to and use of information by women’s organizations and other marginalized groups in society. The challenge is to insure equal access to equipment, training, time, and other resources necessary to fully utilize the technology.

These issues have been the focus of several international conferences hosted by organizations such as ISIS International, World Association for Christian Communication, and International Women’s Tribune Center. UNESCO and the Society for International Development have a joint project “Women and Cyberculture” which looks at the Internet and other aspects of global communications from a gender perspective.

Through a project called WomenWatch, The United Nations is using an electronic format to provide followup information on the Beijing conference as well as examining ways women’s groups around the world can use the “Information Superhighway” as a networking tool. Womenwatch is a joint effort of the International Training and Research Institute for Women, the United Nations Development Fund and the Division for the Advancement of Women, the three UN Bodies which primarily deal with women’s issues.

In June 1996 experts at  a WomenWatch workshop look- ed at ways to make electronic communications more effective for empowering women’s groups and issues. The experts determined that “a key aspect of WomenWatch will be to define the need for and coordinate electronic conferencing and bulletin boards to facilitate interactive feedback for users.”  Since e-mail was recognized as the primary working tool for the majority of women users of electronic communication systems.... “Internet query mechanisms will also be established for E-mail-only users. The information will be organized in an Internet-accessible database to allow users in developing countries who do not have direct access to all Internet tools to retrieve the information.  WomenWatch will develop partnerships with various groups that repackage and redisseminate information to women’s organizations and resource centers in locations with no Internet access. It will also work closely with organizations that provide training for women in the use of the new technologies."82

The above-mentioned organizations may be contacted as follows:

Association for Progressive Communications
APC Secretariat
e-mail information: apc-info@apc.org

APC International Secretariat
Rua Visconde de Ouro Preto 5, Seventh Floor
22250-180 Rio de Janeiro Brazil
Tel: +55 (21)553-0676 Fax: +55 (21)552-8796
e-mail: apcadmin@ax.apc.org

APC North American Regional Office
Presidio Bldg 1012, First Floor
Torey Avenue
P.O. Box 29904-0904
San Francisco, CA 94129-0904
Tel: +1(415) 561-6100 ext. 120
Fax: +1(415) 561-6101

United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW)
2 United Nations Plaza
DC2-12th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Fax: +1 (212) 963-3463
e-mail: daw@un.org
Homepage: http://www.un.org/dpcsd/daw

* Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action: http://www.un.org/dpcsd/daw

* Fourth World Conference on Women Archives: http://www.un.org/dpcsd/daw1.htm

* Gopher  users :gopher://gopher.un.org:70/ 11/sec/dpcsd/daw

* E-mail users: gopher@undp.org
Type in body of message: http://www.undp.org/fwcw/daw1.htm

For general information and help getting started using the Internet the following contacts would be helpful:

Subscribe at email:majordomo@best.com  Type: subscribe internet-women-help
Also for help subscribing Women-Online@agoodloe.vip.best.com 

Virtual Sisterhood: WomensNet@IGC
Gophe r: gopher.igc.apc.org
R.R. 1 Scotsburn
Nova Scotia, Canada
Vsister @igc.apc.org

Virtual Sisterhood is a global women’s electronic support network, dedicated to strengthening and magnifying the impact of feminist organizing through promotion of electronic communications use within the global women’s movement.

Homepage:  http://www.feminist.com/natn.htm
FEMINIST.com is a site aimed at helping women network more effectively on the Internet. Includes the abridged text of articles and speeches, women’s health resources, women-owned businesses, and more.

Homepage:  http://www.igc.apc.org/Womensnet
WomensNet is a non-profit computer network for women, activists, and organizations using computer networks for information sharing and increasing women’s rights. WomensNet provides e-mail accounts, Internet access, WWW publishing, consulting and training. Site contains WomensNet’s online newsletter and descriptions of projects in which the group is currently involved.

In the January 1997 issue of Ms. Magazine these two books were recommended for helping women tackle the Internet:

SurferGrrrls: Look, Ethel! An Internet Guide for Us! by Laurel Gilbert and Crystal Kile.
Described as “a funny, fresh, feminist
tour de force.”

The Internet for Women
by Rye Senjen and Jane Guthrey
Described by Ms. as “a more detailed, somewhat dry, yet easy to follow guide to the domain of cyberspace.”

The international network, APC has developed an online network for women. Contact them at:

The Association for Progressive Communication (APC)
18 Deboom Street,
San Francisco, CA 94107
Tel: (415) 442-0220  Fax: (415) 546-1794  
e-mail:  womensnet@igc.npc.org.
Sally Burch, Coordinator
APC Women’s Networking Support Program
c/o Intercom/Ecuanex
Casilla 17-12-566
Quito, Ecuador
Tel: (593-2)- 505074  Fax: (593-2) 505073  
email:sally @alai.cox.apc.org

OTHER INTERNET RESOURCES on Violence Against Women

FMF Feminist Gateway (Violence  against women and sexual harassment)
http://www.feminist.org/other/dv/dvinter. html

Higher Education Center Against Violence and Abuse


Many conferences and web pages  have been developed as follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. Some of them are:

Nongovernmental organization documents on the Fourth World Conference on Women (Spanish)

Nongovernmental organization documents on the Fourth World Conference on Women (English)

UN Secretariat for the Fourth World Conference on Women: newsletter and other documents:
http://www.igc.org/womensnet/beijing/beiji ng. html

UN Fourth World Conference on Women Platform for Action:
women/of f/platform

International Institute of Sustainable Development
(IIDS), Linkages Fourth World Conference on Women Site:


Earth Negotiations Bulletin, by IISD:

The following electronic resources cover human rights and violence against women, as well as legal, economic, and development issues relating to women.

Womensnet, the women’s network of the IGC and member of APC

Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO)
ngo/we do.html
gopher: gopher.igc.apc.org:70/11/orgs/wedo

Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL)
http://www.igc.apc.org/womensnet/beijin/ngo/cwgl .html
gopher: <gopher.igc.apc.org:70/11/orgs/cwgl

Global Fund for Women
Homepage: http://www.igc.apc.org.gfw/

CRLP:  Women of the World
Homepage:  http://www.echonyc.com/-jmkm/ wotw/
This site provided by the Center for Reproductive Law & Policy, Inc., provides a review of women’s reproductive freedom in six countries around the world.

Institute for Global Communications (IGC), Association for Progressive Communications (APC) Networks
gopher://gopher.igc.apc.org:70/ 11/orgs

Women’s human rights conferences on IGC network
women.news, hr.women, hrnet.women, women.violence, women.media, women.info.src, un.cedaw.docs,  un.csw.docs
PeaceNet Home Page: http://www.peacenet.org/ peacenet

Diana (Direct Information Access Network Association)
Librarians, scholars and other human rights advocates working to set up a human rights library on the Internet.  


University of Minnesota Law Library
Homepage:  http://www.umn.edu/humanrts/

The University of Cincinnati College of Law
Homepage:  http://www.law.uc.edu/Diana/

Yale University Law School:
Homepage:  http://www/elsinore.cis.yale.edu/ dianaweb

Netherlands Institute of Human rights
SIM: Ineke Boerefijn
e-mail: Boerefijn@pobox.ruu.nl

Feminist Majority Online
Homepage:  http://www.feminist.org/
This site, subtitled Women’s Web World, contains information on government actions for and against women, an online discussion group, publication information, and much more.

Internet Resources for Women’s Legal and Public Policy Information
Homepage:  http://asa.ugl.lib.umich.edu/chdocs/ womenpolicy/womenlawpolicy.html
Guide at the University of Michigan intended to assist individuals seeking information related to women’s and feminist legal, public policy, and political issues. Included are Gopher, WWW, and ftp sites, as well as listservers and Usenet newsgroups. An ACSII version of the index is available for download, if you want, a hardcopy of the URLS is provided.

The Legal Rights of Women
Homepage:  http://www.electriciti.com/womenrts/
Legal Rights of Women is a legal reference text. This is the abridged version of the printed book; ordering information is provided if you like what you see. The purpose of this text is to bring to one source the legal principles most affecting the personal business, family, and civil rights of women.

WIDNET (Women in Development NETwork)
Homepage:  http://www.synapse.net/~focusint/
The WIDNET site presents information pertaining to women’s resources throughout the Internet.  Also includes the WIDNET magazine, a searchable resource database, business contacts, and much more.  In English and French.

Women’s Bureau Dept. of Labor – “Fair Pay Clearinghouse”
Tel: (800) 347-3741
Homepage:  http://www.dol.gov/dol/wb

Women in the Law Project
Tel:  (202) 232-8500
e-mail:  lawgroup@igc.apc.org

The following is a “crash course” for surfing the Net and dancing in Cyberspace

These key terms were taken from Women 2000 Women and the Information Revolution October 1996 * No. 1 1996.

Key Terms

Computer networking technologies (CNTs):  The various tools being developed for electronic dissemination of information.

Domain:  A method of identifying computer addresses on the Internet. Typically the name of an institution or entity followed by a “dot” and an abbreviation, e.g., “gov” for governments, “edu” for educational institutions, “com” for companies, “net” for networks or “org” for organizations.

Electronic conference or bulletin board:  A collection of messages related to a particular topic.

Electronic mailing list (also called Listserv): A list of E-mail addresses of people who regularly communicate with each other. You can subscribe to receive messages automatically by sending a request via electronic mail to a specified address.

E-mail: Short for “electronic mail,” it’s like a letter, a message that one person can send and have received almost instantaneously by someone anywhere in the world via computers and modems using telephone lines.

Gopher: A menu system that organizes and provides easy access to information available on the Internet. The gopher can help you locate information, download files and search databases.

Home page: A Web screen that acts as a starting point. A user can go from a home page to multiple sites across the world’s computer networks.

HTTP (Hypertext transfer protocol): The Internet standard that enables information to be distributed across the Web using hypertext markup language (HTML) to upload information.

Internet (The Net): A global network of computers that makes it possible to share information electronically. It offers both one-way communication and “virtual” interactive communication. It allows networking, conferencing, commercial transactions, shopping, banking and publishing. The most popular uses of the Net are E-mail and the World Wide Web (WWW).

Modem: Either an internal or external attachment to your computer that allows you to transmit or receive data through your phone lines. The name is short of modulator-demodulator.

Newsgroup: A single forum for discussion on Usernet. A newsgroup’s name denotes the appropriate topic of conversation in that newsgroup. For instance, “comp.sys.mac.comm” is for discussion of communications on the Macintosh computer system; “sci/physics.research” is for discussion of research in physics. The contents of a newsgroup consist of postings — individual messages, submitted from anywhere on the Internet.

On line: On or actively connected to a computer network.

URL (Universal Resource Locators): On the World Wide Web, a URL can be thought of as a road map for accessing a specific resource, such as a Web page or gopher site. URLs express the type of resource to be accessed, the specific site where the information is stored and where at the site the information is located. Many URLs begin with the characters http://, gopher://, or ftp://.

Web browser: Enables users of the Internet to discover, retrieve and display documents and data available on the WWW.  Web browsers allow the user to view selectively hypertext documents, access powerful text-searching tools, listen to sound files, and view graphics, animation and video across the Internet.

World Wide Web (WWW): Originally a project developed by CERN (European Laboratory for Particle Physics) for sharing information within internationally dispersed teams over computer networks. It allows text and graphics to be shared with anyone else on the network. The WWW is one of the fastest growing areas in the field of computer-mediated communications. It is estimated that there are over 400,000 Web sites.


1.Bunch, Charlotte. “Overview of Violence Against Women.”  Violence Against Women - Addressing a Global Problem. Ford Foundation Women’s Program Forum,  p.1.

2.“Violence Against Women” in Focus on Women, United Nations Dept. of Public Information.

3.“Violence Against Women - No Longer a Secret.” One World, October 1991,  p. 5.

4a.National Coalition Against Domestic Violence Fact Sheet.


5.Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, presentation to Pan American Health Organization, May 22, 1989.

6.National Coalition Against Domestic Violence Fact Sheet.


8.News From the Homefront, Family Violence Prevention Fund Newsletter, Spring/ Summer 1995, p. 5.

9.American Medical Association, Diagnostic and Treatment Guidelines on Domestic Violence, p. 5.

10.Personal conversation with nurses at a workshop in Tanzania.

11.“Violence Against Women” in Focus on Women, United Nations Dept. of Public Information.

12.“Where Do We Go From Here,” Ms., Vol. V, Number 2, September/October 1994,  p. 60.

13.Domestic Violence - A Guide for Clergy, Third Edition, October 1990. Written by Deborah J. Pope-Lance and Joan Chamberlain Engelsman Womanspace, Inc., for New Jersey Dept. of Community Affairs, p. 11.

14.News From the Homefront, Family Violence Prevention Fund Newsletter, Spring/ Summer 1995,  p. 4.

15.IN/FIRE Ethics, Vol. 13, Issues 3&4, 1994 (table compiled by Lori Heise for “Violence, Sexuality & Women’s Lives,” delivered to WHO/AIDS and Reproductive Health Network Conference, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, April, 1993.

16.National Coalition for Battered Women Fact Sheet.

17.Journal of American Medical Association. 273:22, 1763-1767.

18.Flitcraft, Ann, MD., Health Affairs, Winter 1993.


19.American Medical Association, Diagnostic and Treatment Guidelines on Domestic Violence.

20.“Physical Violence During the 12 Months Preceding Childbirth; Alaska, Maine, Oklahoma, West Virginia. 1990-1991.” JAMA 271:15, 1152-1153..

21.“Nursing Intervention With Battered Women” Newsletter of the Organization for Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nurses. May, 1992, pp. 5-6.

22.McFarlane, Judith. “Battering in Pregnancy” p.205.


24.“Wife Abuse: An Opportunity for Prevention,” Injury Prevention Newsletter, Spring/Summer 1988, Vol. 5, No. 1, p. 4.

25.“Overview of Violence Against Women,” Violence Against Women - Addressing a Global Problem. Ford Foundation Women’s Program Forum. p. 4.

26.Domestic Violence - A Guide for Clergy, Third Edition, October 1990.  Written by Deborah J. Pope-Lance and Joan Chamberlain Engelsman Womanspace, Inc., for New Jersey Dept. of Community Affairs, pp. 7-9.

27.National Coalition Against Domestic Violence Fact Sheet.

28.Education Wife Assault Materials, 427 Bloor St. W. Toronto, Ontario M5s 1X7 Canada.

29.Taken from “Family Violence - State of the Art Programs,” National Council of Juvenile and Family court Judges.

30.Perlez, Jane. 1991. “Kenyans do Some Soul Searching After the Rape of 71 Schoolgirls.” New York Times, July 29.

31.Piercy, Marge. “Rape Poem” in Living in the Open — Poems by Marge Piercy, New York: Alfred Knopf, 1979, pp. 88-89.

32.Heise, Lori. Violence Against Women - The Hidden Health Burden . World Bank Discussion Papers #255, p. 5.

33.Ending Violence Against Women - A Resource Guide. The Global Fund For Women, Menlo Park, CA. February, 1992.

34.Orange County Rape Crisis Center Training Manual, Chapel Hill, N.C.

35.Salzholz, and Cliff, E. “ Women Under Assault: Sex Crimes Finally Get the Nation’s Attention,” Newsweek, July 16, 1990, pp.23-24.

36a.FBI Uniform Crime Reports 1996 (Data from 1995).

36b.Rape in America - At a Glance. Crime Victim’s Research and Treatment Center, April 23, 1992.

37.Hirsch, Kathleen. “Fraternities of Fear,” Ms., September/October 1990, p. 52.

38.Ibid. p. 54.

39a&b.Ibid. p. 55.

40.Ibid. “On the Legislative Front,” p.52.

41a&b.Chung Chin Sung, “Testimonies on War Crimes Against Women in Conflict Situations,” Testimonies of the Global Tribunal on Violations of Women’s Human Rights at the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights. Vienna, June 1993.

42.Heise, Lori. Violence Against Women - The Hidden Health Burden . World Bank Discussion Papers #255, p. 5.& 8.

43.Harvey, Mary MD., Medical Forum, the Harvard Medical School Health Letter, August 1988, vol. 13, no. 10, p.6.

44.Orange County Rape Crisis Center Training Manual, Chapel Hill, N.C.

45.Harvey, Mary MD., Medical Forum, op. cit., p. 6.

46Orange County Rape Crisis Center Training Manual, Chapel Hill, N.C.

47.Morgan, Robin. The Anatomy of Freedom: Feminism, Physics and Global Politics, New York: Anchor Press, 1982.

48.Omvedt, Gail. Violence Against Women - New Movements and New Theories in India, New Delhi: Kali for Women, 1990. p.5.

49.Bunch, Charlotte, “Overview of Violence Against Women.”  Violence Against Women - Addressing a Global Problem. Ford Foundation Women’s Program Forum, p.1.

50.Fact Sheet on: Gender Violence - Lori Heise, New York:  IWTC and UNIFEM Resource Center,  October 1992.


52.Sen, Amartya - quoted in Women, United Nations background paper on The Fourth World Conference on Women, p. 3.

54.“Violence and Mental Disorders.” Women’s Health Across Age and Frontier. Geneva: World Health Organization. 1992.

55.Women’s Health Journal. ISIS International - Latin America and Caribbean Women’s Health Journal, Jan-March 1990 p. 5.


57.Linking Global Struggles to End Violence. MATCH International Centre, Ottawa, Canada, June 1990, p. 10-17.

58.“Women in Danger: A Call for Action” (Background paper NCIH 1991).

59.Carillo, Roxana. Battered Dreams - Violence Against Women As An Obstacle to Development. United Nations Development Fund for Women 1992, p. 10

60.Caputi, Jane. “Femicide: Speaking the Unspeakable, Ms., Vol. 1 #2 September/ October 1990, p. 34.

61.Violence Against Women - Addressing a Global Problem. Ford Foundation Women’s Program Forum, p. 6.

62.WIN NEWS 21-2 Spring 1995 p. 27.

63.WIN NEWS 21-2 Winter 1995 p. 61.

64.“Pakistan - The Simorgh Collective,” Linking Women’s Global Struggles to End Violence. MATCH International Centre, Ottawa, Canada, June 1990 p. 40.


66a&b.Women’s Health Journal. ISIS International - L.A.and Caribbean Women’s Health Journal, Jan-March 1990 p. 5.



69.McAfee, Kathy. Storm Signals - Structural Adjustment and Development Alternatives in the Caribbean, Boston: South End Press, 1991.

Bitter Medicine - Structural Adjustment in Nicaragua, A Witness for Peace Publication.

70.Women-Challenges to the Year 2000, United Nations Publication 1991,  p. 46.

71.McAfee, Kathy. Storm Signals - Structural Adjustment and Development Alternatives in the Caribbean, Boston: South End Press, 1991. p. 85.

72.Ibid, p. 87.

73.Ibid p. 154.

74.Gately, Edwina, I Hear a Seed Growing: God of the Forests, God of the Streets. Source Books, 1990, p. 128.

75.Diskin, Vilunya “Tourism Exploits Women,” Sojourner, February 1984.


77.A Modern Form of Slavery: Trafficking of Burmese Women and Girls Into Brothels in Thailand" WIN NEWS 20-2 Spring 1994, p. 34.


79.Walker, Alice, Possessing the Secret of Joy. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers. 1992, p. 137.

80.Browleen, Shannon and Seter, Jennifer. “In the Name of Ritual,” U.S. News and World Report February 7, 1994, p. 56-58.

81.Piercy, Marge, “The Low Road” in The Moon is Always Female.  New York:  Alfred Knopf, pp. 44-45.

82.Women and the Information Revolution – Women 2000. Oct. 1996 No 1/1996, published by United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women/DPCSD.


The International Hearing on Violence Against Women was held February 19, 1993 at the Church Center for the United Nations. The hearing was organized by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, Douglass College at Rutgers University, the International Women’s Tribune Center, and the United Methodist Office for the United Nations. The hearing, which was part of an international campaign to  bring issues of violence against women, and women’s rights into the international arena, brought together twenty speakers and respondents from Asia, Africa, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.   All the women raised common tragic themes of  laws specifically designed to control women’s behavior; economic exploitation, rape, battery, sexual slavery, torture, murder and genital mutilation.


1.Anne Walker* - International Women’s Tribune Center

2.Claretta Nesbitt* - United Methodist Office for the United Nations

3.Charlotte Bunch - Center for Women’s Global Leadership

4.Asma Abdel Halim -Sudan - Lawyer and Hubert Humphrey Fellow at Rutgers University.  

5.Laija Elioba* - Sudan

6.Mallika Dutt - USA SAKHI (An organization to combat domestic violence in the South Asian community - greater New York area)

7.Marieme Helie Lucas - Algeria - Founder of the solidarity network “Women Living Under Moslem Law”

8.Hina Jilani - Pakistan

9.Niamh Reilly - USA Center for Women’s Global Leadership

10.Nelia Sancho - Philippines Coordinator of the Asian Women’s Human Rights council in the Philippines -former political prisoner under Marcos regime.

11.Raahi Reddy* - USA Center for Women’s Global Leadership

12.Florence Butegwa -Uganda Coordinator of Women in Law and Development (WILDAF) Zaire.

13Maria Suarez - Costa Rica - Founder of FIRE (Feminist International Radio Endeavor)

14.Nana Apeadu* - Ghana

15.Maureen Aung* - Thwin - USA/ Burma

16.Hnin Hnin Pyne - Burma

17.Laura Flanders - Journalist WBAI Radio and FAIR (media watch group)

18.Paula Edelbrook

19.Jay Won Lee* - Korea

20.Singer* - Song-writer  Christine Kelly


1.His Excellency Martin Huslid,* the ambassador to the UN from Norway

2.Bella Abzug* - USA Co-Chair Women’s Development Organization (WEDO)

3.Joyce Mends-Cole*  - Liberia UNIFEM

4.Missouri Sherman-Peter - The Bahamas Minister, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of the Commonwealth of Bahamas to UN.

                  *appeared in unabridged video of hearing



IDT would like to thank everyone who contributed to bringing this many-staged project to fruition. We particularly want to thank Jeanne Betsock Stillman for her initiative and dedicated efforts in getting the hearings taped.

We are grateful to Else Mia Adjali of the United Methodist Office for the United Nations for initial funding of the editing  phase, and to Elizabeth Calvin of the United Methodist Church Board of Global Missions, who provided funding to help make the resource guide possible.  Thanks also to Charlotte Bunch and Anne Walker for helping arrange to film the hearing, and to Niamh Reilly and Meera Singh for coordinating with IDT.

We are especially grateful to Tom Payne, Gregory Wendt and their colleagues from the Planetary Issues Network who without compensation filmed and recorded the hearing. We also want to thank George Serles for imput and assistance on early stages of the video and Allison Best-Teague of Southern Sisters, Inc. bookstore in Durham, NC and Meera Singh for help with the reference list.

For producing the final video, we want to thank the staff and crew of the Empowerment Project; and for patience and flexibility, we thank Byte Type Publishing Services of Chapel Hill, North Carolina for the design and typesetting of this resource guide.

Special thanks to Dr. Richard Slatta, history professor extraordinnare for pointing out the importance and need for including Internet resources and e-mail addresses.  Warm sincere gratitude to Win Utermoehlen for infinite patience and tremendous help in accessing those resources and learning to “surf the net.”

Most especially we are grateful to all the women who testified for their commitment and courage and for the work they do on behalf of other women in their countries and communities.


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