Gender-based violence

How is gender-based violence defined in the project? 

In this proposal, the concept ‘gender-based violence’ encompasses many and different forms of online/offline violence, violations and abuse, and gender harassment and sexual harassment.

The following is a more detailed definition.

Gender-based violence is a human rights violation, most often recognised as a cause and consequence of gender inequalities, with potential serious consequences for individuals, organisations, and societies. Violence, always gendered, may however perhaps more usefully be understood as a system of violence – including perpetration, victimhood/survivorhood, responses, policies and practices, rather than isolated, individual and aberrant incidents (Strid et al. 2018; Hearn et al. 2020). It is often an instrumental means for a goal, heterotelic, such as men’s control over women and the maintenance of patriarchal institutions and power, and sometimes an end in itself, autotelic, for its own sake (Schinkel 2010). Gender-based violence involves both detailed brutal activities and daily subtle actions that can lead to a life of control and coercion (Stark 2007); it can mean that further violence is unnecessary to maintain control, thus raising a major problem for empiricism and measuring violence; which also is the case with the increasing levels and forms of online violence, noted as cyberviolence among university students (Lewis & Anitha 2019). In UniSAFE, gender-based violence is conceptualised as an expression of power and structural dominance, rather than as an expression of the loss of power and individual marginalisation. This understanding reverses “truths” in conventional mainstream sociology, criminology or psychology where violence is often studied, as a reaction to the loss of power or as violence from the marginalised, socially disadvantaged or psychologically deviant. Furthermore, gender-based violence is deeply intertwined with other forms of inequalities. It is therefore crucial to examine gender-based violence from an intersectional perspective by simultaneously keeping multiple inequalities and the way they intersect in sight, without losing focus on privilege and power of dominant groups (Walby et al. 2012). An intersectional perspective is crucial to the system of gender-based violence, and to examine how certain determinants affect experiences of gender-based violence. Determinants can be demographic factors, such as age, but can also encompass other socio-demographic factors such as human and social capital, academic status and migration status.

Community of Research performing organisations

Is the RPO cooperation expected to be administative, academic or both?

RPOs will mostly provide organisational support to run the online survey – with our assistance – in the institution among all staff and students. We will also analyse the institutional policy framework, so access to the policy framework will be needed. At a later stage, some of the institutions that took part in the survey will be selected and invited to be analysed as a case study in the in-depth, qualitative part of the project’s research. 

What are the ethical issues to be addressed?

RPOs commit to obtaining Ethics approvals from their institutional and/or national Ethics Committees, as applicable. UniSAFE will assist the RPOs by providing a dedicated Ethics Helpdesk that will inform them about the ethical aspects of the project and answer their ethics-related questions.

Will UniSAFE cover eventual RPOs costs to participate in the project?

No. The institutions participate with their own resources, with guidance from the project. They will freely benefit from the survey instrument developed, be provided with results (anonymised data), and optionally get in-depth qualitative analysis. Participating organisations may also benefit from the UniSAFE community by developing effective policies and measures to combat GBV adapted to their own processes and structures. They will be provided with first-hand information, as well as specific support from expert partners. There is no research money involved.

RPO Survey

What happens to the data collected? Will the respondents of the survey be anonymous?

The RPOs will not share any contact detail of individuals, including email addresses, with the survey research group of UniSAFE. The information provided by the survey respondents will be used for the sole purpose of research by members of the UniSAFE project team.

The UniSAFE project complies with the GDPR to ensure data security. All data are checked to rule out any possibility of re-identification of individuals from the dataset, including contextual re-identification, before they are shared with the RPOs. All information of identifiable respondents is either deleted or aggregated (e.g., age is coded into categories) in such a way that deanonymization is ruled out.

Will RPOs have a say in the survey questions, or have the possibility to add any questions?

Given the number of participants (45), it will unfortunately not be possible to influence the survey design or questions. The survey instrument will be the same for all 45 participating institutions. No questions can be added or left out.

On a practical level, how will RPOs run the survey?

UniSAFE will provide RPOs with a specific link to their survey, a template of a cover letter to be addressed by the institution, along with guidelines and resources explaining our methodology and the technical details.


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