In order to realize the full scope of violence against women, it is necessary to consider some of its component parts. These forms of violence are all quite different, as are the circumstances that give rise to them. Each of these practices and all other forms of violence against women, are horrific-as well as criminal-and must be condemned. This is not an exhaustive list but a summary of the major types of violence against women.
- RAPE is forced, unwanted sexual intercourse. Rape knows no borders as it affects females in every country in the world. Rape has even been perpetrated on girls as young as 2, and against women as old as 90. In contexts of war and conflict, rape is prevalent, sometimes using guns and other objects in brutal force.
- SEXUAL ASSAULT is unwanted sexual contact that stops short of rape or attempted rape. Sexual assault takes many forms and is pervasive, occurring at work, in the home or within the community and should never be treated as anything less than a serious offense. Perpetrators may be family members or trusted members of the community, but this does not change the severity or danger of their actions.
- DOMESTIC VIOLENCE refers to physical and sexual attacks in the home within a family or an intimate relationship. It includes intimate partner violence, marital rape, assault and battery, and sexual abuse of children in the household. Worldwide, 40–70 percent of all female murder victims are killed by an intimate partner.
- DOWRY MURDER is a practice in which a bride’s husband and/or in-laws kill her because her parents are unable to deliver the full amount or meet an increased demand of her dowry. It has also been reported that dowry demands have played and continue to play an important role in women being burned to death.
- EARLY MARRIAGE involves the forced marriage of a young girl, who is then extremely vulnerable to sexual violence. Early marriage refers to a forced marriage of a girl under the age of eighteen; girls as young as six or seven have been victims. Early or forced marriage jeopardizes a girl’s physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
- FEMICIDE indicates the systematic killing of women and girls. This extreme act culminates in murder but may include torture, mutilation, cruelty and sexual violence. Femicide is most notorious in several Latin and Central American countries, though it occurs in other regions as well. Sex-selective abortions are another form of femicide, more prevalent in Asia, particularly in countries that do not value female children or when there is a limit on births per family.
- FEMALE GENITAL CUTTING refers to practices that are often deeply rooted in traditional understandings of purity and chastity. In the context of rituals or rites of passage, cutting operations, which can cause irreparable pain and health problems, affect nearly 2 million women and girls each year. Between 100 and 140 million women and girls in the world are estimated to have undergone female genital cutting. Religious leaders must defend the right for all women to live healthy and peaceful lives by condemning this cruel act, which is often based on misused religious principles and misunderstandings
- HONOR KILLING refers to the murder of women due to their perceived disgrace to the family’s or community’s “honor” for things such as accused premarital sex, accused adultery, inappropriate behavior such as leaving the house without a male relative, and even rape. Preservation of honor is usually veiled in religious language, a dangerous manipulation of religion to justify an inexcusable practice. Women have been publicly stoned to death, burned alive and attacked with acid for such accused disgraces.