Read the glossary containing internationally recognized definitions of gender-based violence, to recognize it wherever you encounter it.
Gender-based violence is a daily, global phenomenon, affecting women and young girls, but also LGBTI+ people, disproportionately. It includes any harmful act, against the dignity and integrity of those who suffer from it. It can be carried out both in private and public places (home, work, public transport, etc.), against a person’s will.
It is distinguished from other forms of violence as it stems from a historically established inequality between men and women both in social power and power relations, which has led to men’s dominance over women and the discrimination against them.
Gender-based violence causes physical, sexual, or psychological trauma. At its extreme, it can lead to femicide. Even threats of such acts, coercion, and/or deprivation of liberty – constitute gender-based violence. It involves the use of actual or assumed power – authority and is used as a means of exercising social control, punishment, and “correction” of the individuals who suffer it.
Gender-based violence in all its forms constitutes a criminal offense (often a felony) and is severely punished by Greek law. In fact, with the ratification of the Istanbul Convention by Greece (2018), forms of gender-based and domestic violence, which until now were not legally recognized as such (stalking, financial violence, Female Genital Mutilation, forced marriage) are now systematically documented and criminalized.
According to the internationally recognized definitions of gender-based violence (GBVIMS), its main types are four and include Sexual, Physical, Psychological, and Economic violence. However, it is worth mentioning that local and national legal systems may define these differently and/or have other legally recognized forms of gender-based violence.
Verbal, physical, psychological/emotional abuse, rape, sexual violence, sexual harassment, human trafficking, sexual exploitation, financial violence, forced marriage, Female Genital Mutilation, and stalking.
This is the murder of women, on purpose, because they are women. It constitutes an extreme form of gendered and sexist violence. It is motivated by the exercise of social control over women’s bodies and choices. In essence, femicides are crimes based on well-established social beliefs that women should be subservient to male authority, while potentially being “punished” and “corrected” through violence. The perpetrator – in the majority of cases – is the (former or current) spouse or partner. Usually, the perpetrator has had long-term abusive behaviors toward the wife, who is often in a weak financial position.
Femicide is a distinct crime that used to be covered by the term “crimes of honor” and later the term “crimes of passion”. It was first recorded as a term in 1976 by sociologist Diana E. H. Russell and was adopted by criminology, after 1992, thanks to the book “Femicide: the politics of woman killing”, a collection of essays edited by criminologist Jill Radford and sociologist Diana Russell.
Domestic violence is one of the most prevalent forms of gender-based violence worldwide. It takes place within the family or household. It is (verbal, psychological/emotional, physical, sexual or financial) abuse or threat of violence, practiced between (former or current) spouses/partners/cohabitants, or between other members of a family.
The most common form of domestic violence is violence by a (former or current) husband or partner towards his wife or partner respectively. Domestic violence is a criminal offense punishable by severe penalties, according to a law passed in our country in 2006.
Any act of physical abuse, not of a sexual nature, that results in pain, discomfort, and harm to the person experiencing it. Specifically: slapping, pushing, pulling hair, hitting with hands or other objects all over the body or on parts of the body (elbows, kicks, punches, etc.), cuts or burns on parts of the body, choking, shooting, acid/chemical attacks.
It is a systematic, painful and corrosive process that leads to mental and emotional pain or damage to a person. Psychological and emotional abuse refers to a set of actions: firstly, intimidation and threats of physical or sexual violence. Often the abuser threatens to harm the victim or their family, to take custody of the children, or to kill themselves. Secondly, the systematic humiliation and constant criticism, the creation of guilt in his/her partner, and the incessant control of his/her personal life. Thirdly, the attempt to isolate the victim from their family, friends, and relatives. The above actions aim to reduce self-confidence and undermine the self-esteem and autonomy of the victim, to the point where they doubt their mental clarity and believe that they are responsible and guilty for the abuse they receive.
Verbal violence is directly linked to psychological abuse. It causes pain and mental anguish to the victims. It includes a wide range of behaviors that start from shouting, threatening, and insulting, and reach the verbal humiliation and terrorizing of the victim. The goal of verbal abuse is manipulation through fear and control over the person’s life. Insults, accusations, censure, defamation, blaming the abusive behavior on the victim, constant criticism, verbal degradation, and undermining of self-confidence are just a few faces of this complex phenomenon. Although it is the most common form of abuse, it is not treated with the same seriousness as other forms of gender-based violence, because there is no visible evidence that it has happened and the abuser can be deceptive by maintaining impeccable behavior in public.
The deprivation of resources, opportunities, goods, and services, to manipulate the victim and make him/her dependent on the abuser. Usually, economic violence within the relationship is aimed at controlling the partner so that they feel helpless and powerless to leave the abusive relationship.
Economic violence is practiced in many ways: Firstly, deprivation of the right to economic autonomy. A typical example is the prohibition or obstruction of the right to work. Secondly, control of the victim’s assets and income. The abuser can extract the victim’s salary or deny them the use of it at will, exclude them from financial resources (e.g. withholding of a bank card), force the victim to take out a loan in their name, not allowing them access to family income or decide on shared resources without informing the partner. Thirdly, depriving the victim of the necessary income to meet their basic needs. Finally, preventing the use of contraceptives and creating obstacles in accessing social goods (education, health, etc.) are also forms of economic violence.
Sexual violence is any sexual act, as well as, an attempt at such act, without the voluntary and free consent of the victim. In its practice, physical violence, coercion, and threats of violence are often (but not always) used, causing harm to the victim. Under the umbrella of sexual violence are rape/attempted rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, as well as, human trafficking, sexual exploitation, Female Genital Mutilation, forced pregnancy, and forced abortions.
Under the definition of sexual violence, unwanted sexual comments or the corresponding movements, such as unwanted kissing, touching of genitals and/or other private parts of the body, etc. are also included. Sexual violence can be perpetrated by any person regardless of their relationship with the victim, both at home, at work, and in public.
Forcing a person without their free, voluntary, and unforced consent to having intercourse or any other indecent act or condoning such an act. Rape is the sexual expression of gender violence, often with the use of physical violence and/or threats, and not the violent expression of sexuality. It is a crime of power and coercion that causes various kinds of harm to the victims, while at the same time brutally attacking their personality and dignity. Based on Greek legislation (2006), rape can also be committed within a marriage, constituting a criminal offense.
A form of sexual violence that involves the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia. It is a harmful practice that is practiced illegally, both in countries where it is a “tradition” (e.g. sub-Saharan African countries) and in EU countries. It mainly affects girls between the ages of five and eight.
It is in no way a medical procedure since it does not follow any medical protocol, and it has no medical benefit. On the contrary, it causes irreparable damage to the physical and mental health, but also the sexual life of women. This is a flagrant violation of human rights, while it also violates the right to self-determination and sexuality of the victims. It constitutes one of the most extreme tools of subjugation of women, an aftereffect of gender oppression.
Any marriage conducted without the full consent of both parties. Usually, in its execution, pressure is used to bend a person’s will.
Any form of marriage involving a person under the age of 18. Most early marriages have parental consent.
Human trafficking is a heinous crime of gender-based violence, which violates the concept of human dignity. Through violence, threats, kidnapping, coercion, but also deception, and abuse of the other person’s vulnerable position, millions of people (mainly women and children) are recruited, uprooted from their homes, detained, and trafficked as if they were commodities, with one sole purpose of economic exploitation. The status of forced prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor, forced begging, the status of slavery or similar practices, forced marriages of children, but also the removal of bodily organs, are all forms of human trafficking.
The definition of sexual exploitation includes forced prostitution or the exchange of sexual favors for material goods, services, and support. For the most part, the victims of sexual exploitation are women and young girls, but also teenage boys, who cannot meet their basic living needs. This form of gender-based violence aims to secure (financial, social, and political) profit from the victim. Often the abuser abuses (exploits) his position and power, but also the victim’s vulnerability or trust.
Any sexually motivated and unwanted verbal or physical behavior that is considered offensive by the recipient. Sexual harassment can take place in the work environment, in places of education, sports, religious worship, in social institutions, as well as in any area of social life, where hierarchy and power relations can be factors of vulnerability and victimization.
Perpetrators of sexual harassment in the workplace can be employers, supervisors, or colleagues. Systematic and continuous sexual harassment has serious psychological and social consequences in the life of the person who suffers it. It creates an unsafe, uncertain, and dangerous work environment, as it contributes to the creation of a climate of shame, embarrassment, limitation, and even humiliation or hostility, which becomes suffocating for the harassed person.
Often, perpetrators of sexual harassment use the rejection or acceptance of their behavior to affect the harassed person’s access to professional training, continued employment, promotion, pay, or working conditions.
Stalking covers a range of unwanted, deliberate, repeated, and persistent harassing behaviors and actions that cause fear, terror, or concern to the harassed person. These behaviors are sometimes manifested directly and sometimes indirectly. In this context, the victim is asked to face, despite their expressed contrary will: persistent phone calls, messages and emails; monitoring and/or intrusion into the family, social or work environment; approaching relatives; false accusations, threats, revenge pornography and a host of other disruptive behaviors. This is, without a doubt, a dangerous phenomenon that has recently been considered a criminal offense in our country as well.
A person who has experienced gender-based violence. The terms “victim” and “survivor” can be used equally. The former is preferred mainly in the legal and medical fields, the latter in fields such as psychological and social support. In the second case, it indicates the mental strength and resilience of the person who experiences/experienced gender-based violence.
A person, a group of people, or an institution that directly practices or supports the abuse or exercise of gender-based violence against another person in any way. Perpetrators possess real or perceived power and through their actions exercise control over their victims.
It refers to the disclosure of an incident of gender-based violence. Survivors of such incidents are often reluctant to disclose or seek help.
Acceptance or assent after mature consideration to some act. The person fully understands the consequences of their consent and agrees freely, without any pressure or coercion.
A concept referring to the social differences, between men and women, as opposed to biological differences. Social gender includes all social behaviors and social characteristics, norms, and activities, which each society of a given historical period attributes as “typical” to women and men.
According to the dominant view, it is assumed that these behaviors and characteristics derive “naturally” from the biological sex. But this is not the case. On the contrary, they are constituted and imposed by society. Men and women are made, not born. The norms of social gender, although deeply rooted in every culture, are subject to constant modification and critical questioning, while they present a wide range both within the same and in different cultures.
It is the set of biological characteristics (e.g., gonads, sex chromosomes, hormones, internal and external genitalia) used by the medical community to assign a person’s sex at birth. Biological sex refers to and covers a whole variety of conditions, of which the most common are female (e.g. vagina, clitoris, XX chromosomes, breast development, etc.) and male (e.g. penis, testicles, XY chromosomes, etc.). Some people do not accept the concept of biological sex and speak only of biological-anatomical characteristics.
Gender identity refers to the individual and internal way in which social sex (gender) is experienced by each person and which may or may not coincide with the sex assigned at birth.
It is the nexus of economic, social, and political structures that maintain and reproduce different and distinct roles for women and men.
Stereotypes in general are strict and rigid terms that describe the characteristics of members of a social group. They are “preconceived” beliefs, derivatives of exaggerated or oversimplified judgments about individuals, groups and situations. Gender stereotypes are a subcategory of stereotyping and are based on dominant societal perceptions of gender. For example, gender stereotypes include the belief that men are more suitable than women in assuming roles of responsibility, leadership, muscular strength, and physical endurance, while women should be limited to supporting roles, such as those of caring professions, education – the upbringing of children, the breadwinner and the housewife.
A term used to describe the set of (social, economic, political, judicial, symbolic) institutions, as well as individual or collective behaviors, that express, perpetuate, and legitimize the dominance of men at the expense of women. Derivatives of sexism are also homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia.
Patriarchy is the system that historically organizes and reproduces on a social, political, and ideological level the gender relations of power, the unequal and dominant relations between the social sexes, and the prevalence of a male-dominated perception at the expense of women and those who do not identify with it.