Violence against women is also: Verbal harassment

Verbal Harassment Action Against Hunger

Women are sometimes discouraged or fearful of using certain means of transport because of the harassment they face. Photo: Guillaume Gaffiot for Action Against Hunger, Bangladesh.



From November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and until December 10th, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is a global campaign to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.

Violence against women is one of the biggest causes of injury and death to women worldwide, causing more deaths and disability for women ages 15 to 44 than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war. In other words, it’s an epidemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

However, violence against women goes beyond the physical. Violence can be physical, sexual, psychological. Violence can include limiting autonomy, decision-making power and access to certain resources.

For these 16 days, we are highlighting 16 different types of violence that women and girls experience beyond the physical.

You can take action against gender-based violence:


Day 13 – Verbal harassment



Verbal harassment at home

Verbal harassment is a form of violence because violence can take many forms and can have physical, emotional, sexual and psychological impacts.

At home, women are not only victims of violent partners, but can also be subjected to verbal harassment from other family and community members. Although both men and women can be victims of verbal harassment, women tend to be more vulnerable because of patrilocal marriage. This practice is a norm in many countries, where women tend to marry at an earlier age and relocate to live with their new husband’s family. They often have little access to support systems and find themselves in the lowest ranks of the household hierarchy, having to comply with their in-laws requests. Because newly married women in a patrilocal system are often those with the least power to defend themselves, they are more vulnerable to both physical and verbal harassment.


Verbal harassment in the public

With both education and economic opportunities for women on the rise, women now make up approximately 40% of the paid labour force worldwide. In order to benefit from these opportunities, women are now required to travel outside the home more frequently. This, however, also leads to a greater risk of experiencing violence through verbal and physical harassment.

In many places, public transit and public spaces continue to be gender-blind, and often does not accommodate the needs that women have. Streets are often dimly lit, if at all, while bus conductors are not trained to deal with instances of assault. Travel after dark can be especially dangerous. Although women enjoy greater mobility, they are often discouraged or fearful of using certain means of transport because of the harassment they face, ultimately limiting their freedom and independence. In order to put a stop to the violence, policies and infrastructure need to be more inclusive and need to consider the needs of women. This is true in rural, urban but also crisis contexts. Until this form of violence is overcome, Action Against Hunger takes into account the barriers in physical mobility that restricts a woman’s access to services. In order to overcome this issue, we provide both inpatient and outpatient care. Outpatient care is generally for mothers and children in remote regions, with limited access to desirable transport. Mobile teams have been set up in order to pay home visits and to treat patients on the spot.

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A tuk-tuk (autorickshaw) in the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh. Photo: Guillaume Binet for Action Against Hunger, Bangladesh.


Ending violence against women is key to ending hunger.