barbershop violence against women

Violence against women and the Instanbul Convention

A man in Cork, Ireland has recently been acquitted of rape on account of the fact that his victim was wearing a thong at the time of the assault. In this case, the existence of gender-based violence against women was blatantly denied.

However, crimes like these are explicitly listed in the Council of Europe’s Instabul Convention, which entered into force 4 years ago. 

“There are many misconceptions about the Convention, included the idea that it might seek to introduce a gender ideology, which is completely false. – explains Sara De Vido, International Law professor at Ca’ Foscari and Vice Director of Cestudir – This is slowing back its correct implementation and the ratification by some of the 47 states”

Christina Olsen, from the Council of Europe, member of GREVIO’s secretariat (Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence) added that “this phenomenon needs to be looked at in light of the prevailing global context, where actors from the political and institutional sphere have repeatedly doubted the validity and universality of human rights and liberal democracies. This is happening not only in the countries that haven’t ratified the Convention, but also in places like Italy” 

The last European survey on gender-based violence has been conducted in 2014. The results were the following: 

  • One woman out of three (33%) has been a victim of physical and/or sexual abuse after the age of 15
  • About 8% of women have experienced some sort of physical and/or sexual abuse in the 12 months prior to the survey.
  • Out of all the women who have (or have had) a partner, 22% of them have been physically and/or sexually abused by that same partner

On December 3rd, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, in its efforts to tackle gender inequality, has organized its first Barbershop conference, to engage with boys and men and raise awareness on the topic.

The Barbershop initiative was born in Iceland and Suriname in 2014, inspired by the HeforShe campaign and the Gender Champions network, launched in Geneva. The goal is encouraging men to discuss and to think about their behavior, their privileges and their roles, which pose obstacles to women’s empowerment, with the purpose of coming up with ideas on how to become allies for the achievement of gender equality.

Ivana Padoan, Ca’ Foscari professor and Director of Cestudir, underlined that “gender-based violence interconnects with taboos, stereotypes, forms of submission and inequalities that women have always had to endure on every front and it leads to the idea that women have no worth. Nowadays, culture, society and the news are all talking about “men in crisis”. I think it would be better to say it’s a “crisis of men” which involves the political, institutional, economical and social crisis. All of these spheres have been traditionally represented by men. The crisis of masculinity is a result of an archaic –although still present – division into Alfa and Beta males. The crisis of gender becomes gender-based violence, as it derives from the loss of external and internal control”

“Violence is a violation of human rights – said Christina Olsen – and the duty of each state is to prevent it, both in its public and private dimension. The seriousness of the matter has historically been overlooked, with repeated instances of victim-blaming that only help legitimize the act of violence”. She then added that “Children exposed to gender-based violence are victims as well, the traumatic experience has detrimental effects on their development.”