Approaching violence against women as a public health issue is the subject of a new issues paper from The Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault, part of the Australian Institute for Family Studies.
The paper’s authors, Inara Walden and Liz Wall, explain that over the past 40 years, as domestic and sexual violence against women has become recognised as a major social problem, it has been viewed through various different lenses like criminal law, family law, psychology, gender studies and, most recently, public health. From their introduction:
“Differences in defining the issues by each discipline or approach have impacted the ways in which this social problem is conceptualised, how causes of violence against women are identified, and therefore the nature of policy and program solutions proposed (Jordan, 2011).
“Most recently, the public health approach has emerged internationally and in Australia as a major influence on policy-making in the area of violence against women. An important aspect of the public health model is primary prevention, which aims to stop or prevent a health-related problem from occurring in the first place, by trying to address the underlying factors or causes of a problem.”
This paper includes a summary of how public health principles have been used to attack the problem so far, examples of “high quality prevention efforts that are gradually increasing our limited knowledge in this area” and a look at some major challenges that still exist.