It is very encouraging to see that the new violence against women act has recently been signed into law and is now in full effect. It gives women a certain sense of empowerment to know that there are those out there that are fighting for them. But that does not mean that the problem is resolved. To the contrary, the issue of violence against women is much bigger than most people realize.
According to Enrique Gracia of J. Epidemiol Community Health, the biggest challenge that we have to face is that of public awareness. He likens our witnessing violent acts against women to looking at an iceberg. We may see a massive amount of crime and injustice when it comes to women but the majority of what’s really going on is buried deep below the surface and is only exposed if you wish to go diving for it.
Women do Not Report
The reality is that domestic violence has become so widespread a problem that the World Health Organization has actually declared it on the precipice of a worldwide health epidemic. It has been estimated that only about 2.5% to 15% of the victims of this type of violence actually report their offense. This is a strong indicator that there are still many women who have become victims of domestic violence that are not getting the help they need. This fact is the direct result of many being reluctant to report their cases to the proper authorities. It also means that as long as the cases remain hidden from public view few people will be aware of the problem.
In order to resolve this problem it is necessary that we come to an understanding of why so many cases of violence go unreported. Without learning the reasons why women are so reluctant to report the gains we make to eliminate violence against women will continue to be slow to take hold.
The reasons for this inaccuracy of reporting actually stem from the community’s cultural dynamics. Generally, women who are reluctant to report are dealing with feelings of shame or guilt. Often their culture will have a strong tendency to blame the victim, or their family members or friends will discourage them from coming forward. For many it is a private affair and they fear a negative view of their family or social life from outsiders.
In order to address this problem we need to understand how violence against women is viewed. It is important to understand whether those in the community are completely unaware that the violations are being made or are they just turning a blind eye to the problem. In many cases the community is fully aware of the problem but culturally feels that they need to keep quiet to avoid the shame and stigma associated with this type of crime.
Institutions do Not Report
Because of these negative cultural misconceptions, many institutions have failed to accurately report the number of crimes that occur at their places of operations. This adds another level of discouragement for the victims and for those who have reported it, many authorities do not take the attacks seriously. Sexual assault cases are notoriously under-reported and many victims who do find the courage to report the crimes end up facing additional trauma in trying to get justice.
In many instances, people choose to turn a blind eye to violence against women. They are much more inclined to ignore the offenses or shift blame so that the problem is either ignored or not addressed at all. Despite the fact that nearly every American already knows of someone who’s been a victim of sexual or domestic violence, it continues to be a serious problem and until the issue becomes one that people will recognize as valid, it will remain a difficult problem for our society to overcome.