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Intersectionality and violence against women

Gender inequality ‘intersects’ with other systems of discrimination and oppression, such as ableism, racism and homophobia, to shape women’s experiences of violence. 

Intersectionality in women's experiences

Understanding how gender inequality and other forms of inequality intersect to shape women’s experiences of violence is sometimes called ‘intersectionality’ or taking an ‘intersectional approach’. 

For example, because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have been historically and currently are over-policed, they may not want to engage the police in order to seek safety from family violence. Older women are often less likely to be believed about the violence they experience and women with disability may experience additional kinds of abuse – such as having their medication or aids withheld. 

Purple lines in a star shape point to different forms of oppression and privilege that might affect a woman.

As a result of these intersecting forms of discrimination and oppression, some groups of women experience different, more frequent or more severe violence, or face additional barriers to help-seeking. In fact: 

  • All forms of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women occur at higher rates than violence against non-Indigenous women and are more likely to involve severe impacts. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are nearly 11 times more likely to die due to assault than non-Indigenous women, and 32 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence–related assaults. 
  • 36% of women with disability reported experiencing intimate partner violence since age 15 (compared to 21% of women without disability). Women with disability also experience violence from a wider range of perpetrators. 
  • Older women are more likely to experience violence from a wider range of perpetrators including partners, adult children, other family members, neighbours and caregivers. 
  • Younger women under the age of 35 are the age group most likely to have experienced recent violence from an intimate partner. 
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and asexual (LGBTIQA+) women experience high rates of sexual violence, domestic and family violence, and sexual harassment. LGBTIQA+ women, like all LGBTIQA+ people, are also targeted for violence because of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and intersexphobia and this may impact their experiences of gender-based violence.

Planning initiatives to prevent violence that are ‘intersectional’ can help to end violence against all women. 

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