kNOwVAWdata: Measuring Violence against Women in the Asia Pacific
Professor Cathy Vaughan
kNOwVAWdata is an initiative that will help countries in the Asia Pacific region to measure the incidence of violence against women. The project will improve the availability and quality of data to inform more effective policy and programme responses to prevent and end violence against women. In countries across Asia and the Pacific, surveys have indicated that between 15 and 68 percent of women have experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner. A number of countries in the region still lack data on the prevalence of violence against women – and many governments do not yet have the ability to measure it accurately and safely.
Gathering data on the prevalence of violence against women with integrity requires a nuanced approach to protect the well-being and dignity of both the interviewees and interviewer. Violence against women is very much a hidden problem. Many women remain silent for a number of reasons. Their husbands (or other intimate partners) might beat them up again. Or they are afraid of not being taken seriously, or even of being blamed for having “provoked” the violence in the first place. These fears cause crippling isolation and guilt. The silence, stigma and prejudice involved often conceal the full extent of the crisis. Interviewers need special training and skills to help women summon the strength to tell their painful stories, to keep them safe and to provide necessary support and referral.
While factors contributing to violence vary in different country and social contexts, we know that experiencing and/or witnessing violence as a child is an important predictor of whether men will use violence in their adult relationships or women will become victims of intimate partner violence. Across all countries, gender inequality and unequal power relationships between women and men both drive, and are perpetuated by, violence against women.
Officials managing the surveys in all the kNOwVAWdata countries will receive special training and support to collect data on violence against women in the best possible way. The process and the quality of the surveys will be monitored and supported by UNFPA and a network of independent experts.
The curriculum is based on internationally recognised national violence against women prevalence survey methodologies – the World Health Organization (WHO) Multi-Country Study and the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Domestic Violence Module – enabling global comparison of national survey data. The course will be offered as part of the University of Melbourne’s graduate studies and summer programme. Ultimately, the partners intend to expand the curriculum to additional academic institutions in both Asia and the Pacific and other regions. By directly involving national governments and non-government stakeholders, the partnership aims to secure long term commitments to ongoing violence against women data monitoring from those who collect violence against women data and those who use it to influence policies and programs.
kNOwVAWdata is a DFAT funded UNFPA Asia and the Pacific Regional Office initiative to develop sustained regional capacity through the development and implementation of a sound training curriculum and to build a committed pool of trained professionals and researchers on the measurement of violence against women in Asia and the Pacific region.
Measuring technology facilitated gender-based violence: A discussion paper
University of Melbourne – United Nations Population Fund (2023). Measuring technology-facilitated genderbased violence. A discussion paper
Henderson H, Soares Xavier HA, Mendonca SA, da Silva AM, da Silva M, de Araújo RM, Bohren MA, Vaughan C. 'It depends on who is asking and why they will use it': Access to male condoms in Timor-Leste. PLOS Glob Public Health. 2023 Sep 29;3(9):e0002409. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgph.0002409. PMID: 37773929; PMCID: PMC10540955.
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