The Istanbul Convention (Council of Europe, Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence), defines violence against women as falling under four key forms: physical, sexual, psychological and economic.
Forms of Gender Based Violence
The European Institute of Gender Equality has produced and uses uniform definitions of these forms of violence, which encourage comprehensive understanding of what falls under the scope of gender-based violence.
Any act which causes physical harm as a result of unlawful physical force. Physical violence can take the form of, among others, serious and minor assault, deprivation of liberty and manslaughter.
Any sexual act performed on an individual without their consent. Sexual violence can take the form of rape or sexual assault.
Any act which causes psychological harm to an individual. Psychological violence can take the form of, for example, coercion, defamation, verbal insult or harassment.
Any act or behaviour which causes economic harm to an individual. Economic violence can take the form of, for example, property damage, restricting access to financial resources, education or the labour market, or not complying with economic responsibilities, such as alimony.
It is also important to recognise that gender-based violence may be normalised and reproduced due to structural inequalities, such as societal norms, attitudes and stereotypes around gender generally and violence against women specifically. Keeping silent in the face of gender-based violence normalises and accepts violence. Therefore it is important to acknowledge structural or institutional violence, which can be defined as the subordination of women in economic, social and political life, when attempting to explain the prevalence of violence against women within our societies.