Financial independence is necessary for breaking the cycle of violence against women
The imperative need to “run” specialized economic empowerment programs so that women can regain their financial independence and “escape” from tragic situations of violence and abuse that they experience – most of the time in their own homes – is pointed out, among other things, by the president of Greek Association of Women Entrepreneurs (SEGE), Lina Tsaltabasi on the occasion of today’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. “Economic independence can play an important role not only in eliminating violence, but also in strengthening the broader position of women,” points out Mrs. Tsaltabasi.
As SEGE states in its message for today, violence against women is not a new phenomenon. The battle to defeat it has already started since the last century, with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1979 and is based on a series of legislative efforts at the national and international level. Since then, of course, there have not been giant steps, as one would expect to have happened in relation to such an important issue, but there is definitely some progress.
22% of EU women have experienced violence
According to the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), violence against women is widespread in Europe and its levels are very high. In its latest report, the Agency states that 22% of EU women have experienced some form of violence in their relationship with a man. Also, the report states that 39% of EU women who have left a violent relationship, experience more financial stress than women who have never experienced violence (26%).
Greece: Abuse soared amid lockdown
In Greece, notes the SEGE president, the situation is similar to what applies in the European Union. Especially during the period of the global lockdown, abuse and violence against women skyrocketed. It is characteristic that the calls to the helpline for abused women increased dramatically, while there were also incidents of extreme violence, such as the recent murder of the woman in Mani by her husband, even in front of their own daughter.
How to break the cycle of violence
What can be done, however, so that such phenomena disappear? What can break the cycle of violence and lead to women’s empowerment?
The president of SEGE, L. Tsaltabasi, gives the answer: “In practice, it turns out that women who are victims of violence are usually financially dependent on the abuser and vulnerable to poverty. In the majority of cases, they are women without financial means and their access to the labor market is particularly difficult due to their long-term abstinence. This situation is clearly even more precarious for immigrant women, where the legal status is often linked to the perpetrator and thus they may be prevented from accessing public benefits or even at risk of deportation.
Because of their economic dependency even if they step away for a while, they usually end up back to violence again with often disastrous results. Thus, issues related to economic independence as a way out of violent conditions are critical to the fight against violence in all its forms, although they are often sidelined.
There is, therefore, an urgent need for specialized economic empowerment programs so that women can regain their economic independence and be led away from the violent relationships in which they lived until now. After all, economic independence can play an important role, not only in eliminating violence, but also in strengthening the broader position of women in society.”