Researchers monitor political violence targeting women for first time

Researchers monitor political violence targeting women for first time
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Researchers for the first time have begun tracking violence that specifically targets female activists and politicians.

The Guardian reported Monday that analysts with the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (Acled), will update the data weekly to provide more insight into the threats facing women.

The researchers, after reviewing thousands of incidents dating back to 1997, found that data suggested an increase in violence against women. Analysts worked with the Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas to review the data.

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According to the outlet, the group's research pointed to a recent spike in violence, with twice as many cases reported during the first quarter of this year with 261 events, compared with the first quarter of 2018 with 125 events.

The reports were collected across Africa, southeast and south Asia, the Middle East, eastern and southeastern Europe and the Balkans.

The analysis covers violence against women politicians, but also other forms of women-specific political violence, according to The Guardian.

Researchers found that women-led protests were more likely to be peaceful than other demonstrations, but were disproportionately interrupted by violent incidents, including use of weapons, arrests and teargas, typically by government-backed forces, according to the outlet.

The research did not cover political violence targeting both men and women, nor did it incorporate domestic or intimate partner violence, which is estimated to have been responsible for half of the murders of women in 2017.

Researchers found an apparent increase across Africa, where Acled has collected data for the longest time period. Seventy-one incidents were recorded in the first quarter of 2014, compared to 156 in the first quarter of 2019.

“There has been a lot of anecdotal evidence [suggesting] that women are faced with more and more targeting, but we didn’t have a systematic way to compare this,” Roudabeh Kishi, research director of Acled, told the newspaper.

Kishi added that the specific forms of violence vary according to region and country, such as in south Asia, where mob violence, often by groups associated with political or religious groups, are the primary forms of political violence against women.

“Most of the conversations we have around gender-based violence are usually linked to sexual violence and usually that’s how we understand violence against women,” Kishi told the Guardian.

“To a degree that’s fair — women are the predominant victims of that type of violence,” she added. “But sexual violence is not the primary means by which women are targeted.”

The group plans to publish its data covering Latin America, central Asia and the Caucasus, according to the paper. Western Europe and east Asia will be introduced in the coming months, according to the newspaper.