The Nordic countries are the most gender-equal nations in the world, but at the same time, they have a disproportionately high rate of intimate partner violence (IPV) against women. This is perplexing because logically violence against women would be expected to drop as women gained equal status in a society.
A new study published in Social Science & Medicine explores this contradictory situation, which has been labeled the “Nordic paradox.” Researchers believe that gaining understanding of its underlying causes may offer important tools to help curb the worldwide public health epidemic of violence against women.
With a global prevalence of 30 percent, IPV is the most common form of violence suffered by women. It also contributes to female mortality, with 38.6 percent of murdered women killed by their partners. In many instances, gender inequality is thought to be a major contributing factor to violence against women, which is why interventions that attempt to boost gender equality are often implemented in an attempt to prevent or lessen IPV against women.
“High prevalence IPV against women and high levels of gender equality would appear contradictory, but these apparently opposite statements appear to be true in Nordic countries, producing what could be called the ‘Nordic paradox’,” stated co-investigator Enrique Gracia, PhD, Professor in the Department of Social Psychology at the University of Valencia, Spain. “Despite this paradox being one of the most puzzling issues in the field, interestingly, this is a research question rarely asked and one that remains unanswered.”
While gender equality is a fundamental value in Nordic nations, the rates of violence against women are much higher than in other parts of Europe. The average rate of lifetime prevalence of violence against women perpetrated by partners in the European Union is 22 percent, but Denmark’s average is 32 percent, Finland 30 percent and Sweden 28 percent. The rates are also high in Nordic countries for violence against women by non-partners. Meanwhile, EU members Portugal, Italy and Greece, which all trail far behind the Nordic nations in gender equality, have much lower rates of IPV against women.
This report calls for a closer look at the paradox in hopes that investigation will help shed new light on how to prevent IPV against women by illustrating how gender equality influences violence.
“The Nordic paradox posits a challenging research question that should not be ignored,” said co-investigator Juan Merlo, MD, PhD, Professor in the Unit for Social Epidemiology at the University of Lund in Malmo, Sweden. “After excluding the possibility of confounding and information bias, this paradox needs to be urgently understood. By doing so we will advance our knowledge base on the determinants of individual IPV risk within and between countries and, thereby, provide better-targeted prevention initiatives.”
Drs. Gracia and Merlo offer a number of potential explanations and propose methodological approaches to understanding the contradictory phenomenon. One theory is that Nordic countries may be suffering from a backlash effect as traditional definitions of both manhood and womanhood begin to be challenged in a meaningful way. However, the investigators caution that multiple layers of influences might be at play, so it is important to evaluate all factors surrounding IPV, including neighborhoods, places of employment, social networks, and other associations in a multilevel analysis.
The authors also address possible sources of information bias. For example, some have argued that women in Nordic countries may feel more free to talk about IPV because of their equal status. “Data would reflect not an actual higher prevalence but higher levels of disclosure than in less equalitarian countries,” explained Dr. Gracia. “However, the same EU Agency for Fundamental Rights survey provides data suggesting lower levels of disclosure of IPV to the police by women in Nordic counties as compared to other EU countries.”
As the issue of IPV against women continues to be a target for public health interventions, the information provided by exploring the Nordic paradox may reveal new connections and shatter old expectations. As Dr. Merlo concluded: “The Nordic paradox may provide an avenue to guide new research on IPV in order to appropriately respond to this social and public health problem in a more effective way.”
Report By Eileen Leahy – June 7, 2016
Turkey’s performance in implementing the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was reviewed in July 2016 by a UN committee, when a Turkish delegation comprised of Turkisch representatives of the family, foreign affairs, interior, justice, labor, education, health and agriculture ministries, provided official figures on recent developments on the status of women in Turkey and answered the committee’s questions on a wide range of women’s issues in the country.
“Women are now able to solely use their maiden name after they get married“, said delegation head Gülser Ustaoğlu,the general manager of the Family and Social Planning Ministry’s status of women program, adding changes were being made to the Turkish Criminal Code to introduce penalties against discrimination and hate crimes.
“Turkey has been one of the countries that supported ‘gender equality’ as a stand-alone goal,” she stressed, although the term “gender justice” was being employed increasingly more commonly in the country. She added that the budget of the Family and Social Planning Ministry had increased 15-fold and now included social services for women as part of its work.
Reports suggested, however, that the CEDAW committee criticized changing the name of the Women and Family Affairs Ministry into its current title following the 2011 general elections and questioned the delegation on a number of thorny issues including child brides, femicides, girls’ education, equal pay and abortions.
Members of the committee also questioned women’s representation in politics, Ustaoğlu responded by saying that some 15 percent of the Turkish parliament were women – corresponding to a total of 81 lawmakers.
“A 10 percent increase in these numbers since the year 2002 is a significant development,” the delegation said in a written response.
The CEDAW committee also listed a number of issues related to the seventh periodic report of Turkey to be answered by the Turkish delegation, including matters related to the legislative framework, violence against women and women’s participation in education, the job market and political affairs.
“As of February 2016, 101 shelters with a capacity of 2,656 in 79 provinces serve under the coordination of the ministry,” the delegation said in response to a question on violence against women, saying that an amendment to the municipalities law now rendered it mandatory for all municipalities with a population of over 100,000 citizens to open shelters for women and children.
The delegation’s answers also provided striking figures on the extent of violence, as they said 36 percent of women were reportedly subject to violence from their partners or spouses at some point in their lives while 44 percent of women were victims of psychological or emotional violence.
Turkey also defended the increase in the number of religious vocational schools for contributing to girls’ schooling. “The establishment of girls’ imam hatip [religious vocational] high schools and dormitories in some areas in order to prevent prejudices from keeping girls away from enrolment are contributing towards the enrolment rates of girls in these areas,” it said.
After reading this turkish media release from Daily News , now let’s find out CEDAW Committee Report Concluding Observations on Review of Turkey in UN Official Language of Choice.
A last-minute bill was proposed on 17 November 2016 to the General Assembly of GNAT (Grand National Assembly of Turkey) by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) İstanbul Deputy Mehmet Muş, İstanbul Deputy Halis Dalkılıç, Kocaeli Deputy İlyas Şeker, Kırıkkale Deputy Ramazan Can, Hatay Deputy Hacı Bayram Türkoğlu and Osmaniye Deputy Mücahit Durmuşoğlu.
The bill proposes the suspension and consequent pardoning following the limitation period, of the crimes of sexual harassment perpetrated prior to 16 November 2016 if the perpetrator marries the victim.
In addition to this bill, the ruling party currently discusses whether to lower the age of consent for sexual intercourse to 12 by means of making amendments to the Art. no 103 of the Turkish Penal Code (TPC) despite objections of women’s organizations. If the named article passes into low as suggested above, the majority of the perpetrators who are currently on trial or will be on trial as convicts of sexual abuse will have the right to assert that the child gave consent and avoid punishment. Thus, the amendments to this article of the TCC, as well as the bill proposed will put in place both retrospective and prospective regulations.
Women’s organizations immediately reacted and wrote a declaration ” We will not accept any bill” signed also by Turkish Association of University Women.
TO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
TO MARRYING OFF THE VICTIM CHILD WITH THE RAPIST
TO AMNESTY TO THE RAPISTS
We will not accept any bill that legitimizes “rape” of women and children.
The AKP’s bill on marrying off the children with their rapists and sexual harassers should immediately be withdrawn!
With the amendment to the Article No.103, the age of consent for sexual intercourse will be lowered to 12 from 15 and the perpetrators of ongoing criminal suits and those who will be convicted of sexual harassment in the future will be exempt from criminal punishment.
The bill proposed on the night of 17 November paves the way to retrospective remission of punishment for the sexual harassers. The bill aims at pardoning of the past sexual crimes and the releasing of child sexual harassers.
The “legal ground” is being laid down that will result in sexual violence against girls aged 12 and above and in marrying off them with their sexual harassers.
Both the amnesty bill proposed as a fait accompli and approved with the votes of AKP and the amendment to the Article No.103 that will result in lowering of the legal age of consent to 12, are against the rights of the child and woman and violate international obligations. Therefore, they cannot be accepted under any circumstances. Threats and violence against the vested rights of women and girls have exponentially increased in Turkey. Among the most dangerous of all these threats are the amendment to the Article No.103 of TPC and the bill approved unanimously by AKP deputies, which might be passed into law at any moment. The article stating “releasing the perpetrator in cases where the perpetrator marries the victim” was amended with the campaigns of the women’s organizations during the TPC Reform in 2004 when the TPC Woman Platform demanded that the foregoing article be changed. Approval of the proposed amendment and the bill means that this article will be restored in law again. And this, beyond any doubt, will be a regression in the vested legal rights of the women and girls!
While there is a worldwide fight against child sexual abuse, and forced marriages and child marriages are prohibited and the minimum age of marriage is increased around the world, the course of events in Turkey is extremely worrisome. Those who wish to lower the age of consent to 12, who have proposed the amnesty bill for the convicts of child sexual abuse and those who approved the bill should urgently reverse this wrong. Doing otherwise, will lead to irreversible consequences and marks the usurpation of the rights of the children and women by the Parliament, the representatives of the public.
To correct this dire mistake,
WE CALL ON
all political parties at the GNAT, the press and media organizations, the sensible public, and notably all the women to;
Support the fight for the protection of the current legal rights of women and children,
Support the withdrawal of the bill and demand that the Amendment to Article No.103 to be done in collaboration with the organizations for women’s and children’s rights so as to avoid the victimization of children,
Support us to remove the Article No.103 of TPC from the omnibus bill prior to the session to be held at the GNAT on 18 November at 14:00 during which this omnibus bill will be voted on.
17+ Alevi Kadınlar
Adana Büyük Şehir Belediyesi Kent Konseyi Kadın Meclisi
Akdam – Adana Kadın Dayanışma Merkezi ve Sığınmaevi Derneği
Ankara Kadın Platformu
Antalya Feminist Kolektif
Antalya Kadın Danışma Merkezi ve Dayanışma Derneği
Ayvalık Bağımsız Kadın İnisiyatifi
Bodrum Kadın Dayanışma Derneği
Buca Evka-1 Kadın Kültür Ve Dayanışma (Bekev)
Cinsel Şiddetle Mücadele Derneği
Çanakkale El Emeğini Değerlendirme Ve Kadın Danışma Merkezi -Elder
Çiğli Evka-2 Kadın Kültür Derneği (Çekev)
Devrimci Partili Kadınlar
Engelli Kadın Derneği – Enkad
Eşitiz – Eşitlik İzleme Derneği
Filmmor Kadın Kooperatifi
Göztepe Dayanismasi L’animo Kadın Grubu
Günebakan Kadın Derneği
HDK Kadın Meclisleri
İzmir Bağımsız Kadın İnisiyatifi
İzmir Kadın Dayanışma Derneği
Ka.Der – Kadın Adayları Destekleme Derneği Ankara Şubesi
Kadav – Kadınlarla Dayanışma Vakfı
Kadın Cinayetlerine Karşı Acil Önlem Grubu
Kadın Dayanışma Vakfı
Kadın Emeği Derneği
Kadın Özgürlük Meclisi
Kadının İnsan Hakları – Yeni Çözümler Derneği
KESK Kadın Meclisi
Kırmızı Biber Derneği
Kırmızı Şemsiye Cinsel Sağlık Ve İnsan Hakları Derneği
Koza Kadın Derneği
Lezbiyen Biseksüel Feministler
Menteşe Kent Konseyi Kadın Meclisi
Mersin Bağımsız Kadın Derneği
Mor Çatı Kadın Sığınağı Vakfı
Özgür Genç Kadın
TCK 103 Kadın Çalışma Grubu
TTB Kadın Hekimlik Kadın ve Sağlığı Kolu
Türk Kadınlar Birliği
Türkiye Kadın Dernekleri Federasyonu
Türk Üniversiteli Kadınlar Derneği
Yoğurtçu Kadın Forumu
Message from members of European Women’s Lobby (EWL) national coordination in Turkey:
The situation in Turkey is getting worse. Recently 11 MP’s/leaders of the Kurdish Party (HDP) were arrested, the Democratic Party of the Peoples (HDP) announced the suspension of parliamentary activities on behalf of their party. The state of emergency continues and every day there is another statutory decree which bypasses the constitution. The societal polarization is huge.
The Women’s Coalition in Turkey (an independent women’s platform which is very closely linked to the EWL Coordination for Turkey), recently made this statement and calls for solidarity for all the women in Turkey.
“Women’s Coalition – Turkey: WE ARE HERE! It is high time for Coalition. All and every single one of us are under attack. There is an attempt to convert us into a huge colorless and shapeless crowd. They will not succeed! We are here with all the hope and conviction we have. We stand up for each other. We stand up for our future, for hope, for equality and for democracy.”
University Women of Europe together with EWL strongly supports the Women’s Coalition and calls on all its members and friends to do so. We will follow up the situation closely.
Senior Researcher Torild Skard, the Author of “Women of Power – Half a Century of Female Presidents and Prime Ministers Worldwide” (Policy Press), Comments on the Recent Elections in the United States.
It was a close race. Actually Hillary Clinton got more votes in the presidential election than her male opponent. But he won due to the system with an electoral college that entails distortions. Thus, white male power in the US was strengthened, and this by a man with extreme sexist and racist attitudes. Women did not make gains in Congress, either. The Republicans got the majority in both chambers and the number of women remained unchanged at a low 19 per cent. This is less than the global average of women in parliament, which constantly is too low, at 23 per cent in 2016.
A woman as head of a superpower like the US would have been a very important breakthrough. Globally the situation for democratic political governance with gender equality is dismal.
In 1945 the nations of the world reaffirmed faith in the equal rights of women and men, and in 1975 they required the elimination of all obstacles in the way of enjoyment by women of equal status with men.
Nevertheless, women still strive to obtain one fourth of the Members in Parliaments worldwide, and in political positions with more power, the figures are even lower. In November 2016 there are not more than 16 women presidents and prime ministers all in all – not even 6 per cent of the total.
When the United Nations was created at the San Francisco conference, there were only 3 per cent women among the representatives. But women, particularly from Latin America, lobbied actively for women’s rights. So the UN Charter confirmed the equal rights of women and men and a special Commission for the Status of Women (CSW) was created (Torild Skard: “Getting Our History Right“ and cisd.soas.ac.uk). Action plans and a convention were adopted, institutions created and measures implemented both nationally and internationally. Gender parity in decision-making was to be achieved by 2000. But it was not.
Why is progress so slow?
Generally around the world, men dominate over women, have higher status, more power and resources. The political elite denies people with lower status their economic, political, social and cultural rights.
To maintain their position, those in power use domination techniques (Berit Ås: “Master suppression techniques”). They seek to divide and rule, use violence or threaten to use it. They withhold information, conceal realities and confuse concepts. Women who engage in politics, are ridiculed, ignored or co-opted. They experience the double-bind dilemma: damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
Notwithstanding, some women have managed to become national leaders, particularly after 1990 and the fall of the Berlin wall. The first was Sirimavo Bandaranaike in Sri Lanka in 1960 and since then there have been one hundred, all in all, on all continents except the Middle East and North Africa.
To rise to the top the women presidents and prime ministers had to have extraordinary qualifications, and they succeeded more often in industrial than developing countries. In addition to higher living standards more countries in the North had democratic political systems. The majority of the women climbed up through the political parties. But globally, the party leadership remains extremely male dominated, with only 10 per cent women. Feminist organizations have to put on pressure to get women in decision-making positions.
Although the female leaders encountered resistance and usually were surrounded by men, most of them supported the CEDAW and promoted various women’s issues, such as girls’ education, health care services for women, crisis centers etc. So it made a difference that a woman rose to the top instead of a man. But how do we get more women to the top?
The world leaders must walk the talk and implement the goals and strategies of the international agreements: obtain knowledge and analyses of the realities; provide training and conscious-raising of the population; carry out special measures and institutional changes to reduce the inequalities and provide an enabling environment for empowerment of women. Women’s rights champions must be driving forces, and men in high positions must take their responsibility to achieve the agreed-upon policies.
This years’s Equal Pay Day, which highlights the difference between women’s and men’s salaries is the 10th of November and from this day the UK’s female workforce will effectively be working for free until 31 December, due to the scale of the gender pay gap.
Read more about #EqualValue Equal Pay Day campaign.
As Jane Austen (almost) said: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that men (generally) get paid more than women“. Women’s pay remains almost 10% lower than men’s in Britain.
According to some figures published by the Office for National Statistics the gender pay gap has fallen but remains steady in recent years. Average pay for full-time female employees is still 9.4% lower than for full-time male employees (this gap is down from 17.4% in 1997).
Women continue to be penalized with lower pay and fewer promotions when they return to work after taking time away to care for children and because they tend to work in jobs with lower salaries, such as caring and administration. There is also a penalty for working part-time where pay, on average, is less per hour than in full-time work. And a far higher proportion of women work part-time – 41%, compared with only 12% of men.
Compared with other countries’ records on gender equality, the the global rankings in UK has slipped down. It was the ninth most gender-equal country in 2006 but by this year had slipped to 20th place, according to tables compiled by the World Economic Forum.
According to an analysis by consultants Deloitte “Equal pay will finally be achieved 99 years after the 1970 Equal Pay Act was enacted“.
According to Guardian, Ministers have made some encouraging noises and even some meaningful changes: flexible parental leave and the national living wage, of which two-thirds of recipients are women, increasing the amount of free childcare on offer to working parents and from 2018 companies with more than 250 employees will have to publish their gender pay gap. There are also moves to get more women on boards.
Prime minister Theresa May called for gender equality in her first statement pledging for Britain that works for everyone“that means fighting against the burning injustice that…if you’re woman you will earn less than a man”.
The world economic forum has presented the Gender pay gap report 2016 (link below). It is time to change our views it says. It supports the collective complaint UWE has filed against the European Social Charter.
Gender issues permeate workplaces in both overt and covert ways. They are not limited to just the hiring of more women, but are closely connected with the way production and capitalism is understood at large.
There is a clear divide in what is understood as work life, and what constitutes personal life. These are two distinct silos. It is commonly understood that a good and committed professional is one who knows how to keep these two separate. Work falls within the economic realm and personal or home falls within the social realm. The former is the market economy and the latter is the care economy.
However, in reality it is not so. The home, where family members cook, clean and care for each other, ultimately ensures that the workplace has the human resources it needs to function.
We need to shift perceptions between what is economic and what is social and include cooking, cleaning and caring as economic activities even when they are unpaid, since, if monetised, they would significantly boost GDP.
Furthermore, the lives we lead at home are interwoven with the ethics of the modern workplace and the quality of the goods we can produce. Investing in the care economy – that is to say, spending time looking after children, the elderly, the sick and ourselves – is investing in the economy, full stop. When the fabric of our societies is weak, our markets also flounder. While technology is important, it is still the human mind that develops and runs that technology.
However, when it comes to gender parity, highlighting the importance of the care economy is a double-edged sword. It risks reinforcing women’s role at home, and discouraging them from participating in the market economy.
The danger lies in social norms that divide labour along gender lines. In many cultures, women are perceived as the custodians of care, with their careers taking second place. If they believe or behave otherwise, they are made to feel the burden of guilt at not being “good” women.
In such instances, self-imposed fences enclose women within the care economy. They may refuse promotions, transfers to other locations or extra responsibilities, while organisations see these as social issues that they cannot possibly address. The silos remain intact.
More women in the market economy
On the other hand, there is a well-proven business case for involving more women in the market economy. Here the arguments hover around achieving equal pay, fighting stereotypes which label men and women as more suitable for certain kinds of work, and breaking the infamous “glass ceiling” which stops women reaching the top of their fields.
Women, meanwhile, are caught in the dilemma of playing dual roles in both the care and the market economies.
If we are to ever reach gender parity, we need to break down these silos. Time and again, we have seen that governments which invest in education, health, child-care, care for the elderly, and assisting in making the lives of caregivers easier, have enjoyed economic dividends. On the other hand, when governments shrink away from these investments, the effect ripples through societies and economies.
The future needs new ways of thinking about how the economic and the social are interwoven. Human beings are more than human capital or resources. A break in a career for participating in the care economy should be considered as a productive spell of work experience. It is not a ‘break’. It is a movement from one type of productive activity to another.
If this were to happen, then the silos of home and work would merge and a new, more humane form of production and productivity would emerge.