Reframing Gendered Violence



Reframing Gendered Violence opens up a critical global conversation among scholars and practitioners that recasts the problem of violence against women as it is currently discussed in a wide range of fields, both academic and policy-oriented, including human rights, public health, journalism, law, feminist studies, literature, sociology, religious studies, anthropology, and history.

Over the past couple of decades, violence against women (VAW) and gender-based violence (GBV) have come to prominence as loci for activism throughout the world. Both VAW and GBV regularly garner international media attention and occupy a growing place in international law and global governance. Since 2000 alone there have been more than 25 UN protocols, instruments and conventions directed at its eradication or mitigation.

The working group engages critically with the terms, the assumptions, and the policies that have underwritten this unprecedented outpouring of attention. What do different parties mean when they talk of violence against women or of gender-based violence? Is the main form of violence against women sexual in nature? Does it occur primarily in domestic settings? What is left out when the problem is framed in this way, and whose interests are served by such a framing? When invoked in the halls of the United Nations and used to shape international policy, the terms violence against women (VAW) and gender-based violence (GBV) are often assumed to have stable meanings, yet they do not.

The CSSD, in collaboration with scholars, artists and activists located in the regions where Columbia has established Global Centers, examines in the most capacious way what constitutes gendered violence. The goal is to move the conversation on this crucial topic in new directions, pointing to elisions and exclusions in many common-sense understandings of these terms; deepening the ways in which we engage with the manifestations and causes of such violence; unpacking the politics through which accusations of GBV can sometimes be used to pathologize entire communities, societies or religious traditions, or to divert attention from more systemic forms of abuse such as economic, discursive, and political violence.