Criticism of Gender-based Violence Programs

Study Summary:

The concept of GBV, which is an acronym for “Gender-based Violence”, emerged along with feminism being crystallized and able to distinct between the two concepts: Sex: male and female, which is based on biological characteristics, and the concept of GENDER: man and woman, which symbolizes the social roles that each gender must play in society to become a man or woman. Thus, the concept of gender-based violence is defined as a harmful act perpetrated against a person’s will, and its causes are due to gender differences. This specific type of violence includes acts that inflict harm, misery, threat of harm, coercion or deprivation. It can occur in public or private places, and is classified into sexual, physical, emotional, psychological, social and economic violence, as well as harmful traditional practices.

The social, economic, political and religious discrimination of women, especially with no effective feminist movement, had emerged for decades and headed to demands of women’s rights and equality reprehensible by extremist calls, currents and groups. These extremist groups have been confronting the activity of women’s human rights and international organizations, with their programs, one of which was the GBV program, which is believed to be a recent humanitarian sector. However, its history dates back to the beginning of the last decade of the last century, just as the history of the term itself dates back to the middle of the last century.

Gender discrimination and society’s attitudes toward this discrimination are the root cause of gender-based violence. This root places women and men in socially unchangeable positions of power, in which women are subordinated to men. Accepting these roles and the lack of social and economic value for women and their work reinforce the assumption that the power is for men to make decisions and control women; therefore, perpetrators of gender-based violence seek to maintain their privileges, influence and control over others, as well as to fight against all forms of equality. Cases of this type of violence are increasing, especially in light of crises, disasters and wars.

Gender-based violence programs and projects aim to reduce the violence that is spread due to gender inequality and based on social roles through the guidelines, instructions, directives and operations of the UNHCR. UNHCR develops its own strategies for each country according to its situation and needs in consultation with partners from organizations, governments, bodies, beneficiary and affected persons and experts. UNHCR is developing a five-year strategy that is adaptable to complex surroundings. This strategy would provide a cross-sectoral engagement, such as health care (physical and mental), protection (including safety, security and legal support), psychosocial support (involving specific activities), awareness-raising, education and economic empowerment.

The absence of an approved feminist theory on the basis of which this issue of violence is dealt with has scattered and harmed this work. In addition, the quarrel of feminist mainstreams when implementing programs and projects has also adversely affected this work, as each of which wants to participate according to its vision, method, and background. These projects adapt to reality to the point that they are no longer close to the programs’ content themselves. Programs, projects and activities of gender-based violence have become stereotyping and framing women within the social role entrusted to them, the same the society has done! These activities and programs have been linked to domestic and professional work that society believes to be restricted to women only. Furthermore, guiding women to their rights to raise awareness and inciting them to demand these rights but at the same time, not guiding them to the ways they must take in order to reach them would make them fall victim to this incomplete theoretical awareness that lacks an implementation mechanism. This is often the result of a lack of experience, shortcomings, and the intrusion of some in this field.

Given the global, regional and local statistics, we do not find that there are significant differences in the data. Gender-based violence may increase, especially in afflicted regions, countries and communities as happened during the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic. We do not deny that the experience and policies that are adopted and relied on are in doubt. Employing inexperienced people and enacting policies that do not fundamentally address issues exist clearly in these programs. As it happened, transferring experiences from areas that accept these programs to areas that do not have proven to be a failure. Still, the programs’ management remains in the hands of the societies’ people that do not understand the context of the work they supervise under the name of “experiences exchange”, with high salaries and benefits that only indicate a desire to waste money. The organizers of these programs also avoid entering into a discussion, dialogue or contact with men, even though they are the subject of the problem. The reason is that the organizers are afraid of getting prevented from work in these societies even though the biggest obstacle that would save them all their wasted money is the clerics, but they have to pass it.

These paradoxes have affected the implementation of programs, projects, established activities and even policies, and have led to activities that reinforce the current status and role of women in society, and contributed to strengthening the stereotypical image of women. On the contrary, other acts have provoked conservative religious and cultural mainstreams as they saw in these actions a break in their values. So, they attacked them and stiffened in front of them. Feminism must make its choice and refrain from interfering with its theoretical backgrounds in the programs and projects. Moreover, those in charge of these programs and activities must not turn their centers and activities into a patriarchal institution that cements a stereotypical image of women. To avoid this violence, everyone must sit with the clergy at the discussion table so that the groups most at risk due to this type of violence can get their conditions better.

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