Sexual and reproductive health

Implementing the WHO clinical and policy guidelines for responding to violence against women in countries

Globally, 1 in 3 women have experienced intimate partner violence and/or sexual violence. Such violence has damaging and long-lasting effects on women’s physical including sexual and reproductive health, and mental health. Health care providers are ideally placed to identify and respond to women who disclose violence, and yet, they often do not know how to respond. An increasing number of countries are using WHO clinical and policy guidelines for developing or updating their national protocols and training health care providers to respond to violence against women.

New toolkit to strengthen the medico-legal response to sexual violence

A victim of gender-based violence talk to a counsellor, Zambia.
UNICEF/Nesbitt
Counselling for victim of gender-based violence, Zambia

25 November 2015 -- Although anyone can be a victim of violence, including children and women and men of all ages, figures indicate that one in three women globally have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence by someone other than a partner in their lifetime. Situations of conflict, post conflict and displacement may exacerbate existing forms of violence and present additional forms of violence against women. In the past 20 years, increasing attention has been paid to ending impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict-affected settings and to achieving assistance and justice for victims. Strengthening the medico-legal response is an important contribution to this.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence

25 November marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, officially recognized by the United Nations since 1999. It marks the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, a civil society-originated initiative, culminating on 10 December, Human Rights Day. Every year, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women invites everyone to “Orange the world to end violence against women and girls”. Throughout this time, people around the world wear orange – the colour of the UNiTE campaign, symbolising a brighter future without violence.

Strengthening the health-systems response to violence against women

21 November 2014 - Every single day, women and girls across the world face violence. According to a new series co-authored by WHO, which is published in The Lancet today, efforts must be dramatically stepped up to address this global problem – which includes intimate partner violence, rape, female genital mutilation, trafficking, and forced marriage, and which has serious consequences for victims’ physical and mental health. The new WHO clinical handbook, Health care for women subjected to intimate partner violence or sexual violence, to be published online for field-testing on 24 November, will provide practical information to health-care providers, to accelerate progress towards tackling this issue.

Violence against women (VAW)

VAW and HIV

Image of a red HIV ribbon

Growing evidence shows that violence increases women's vulnerability to HIV. HIV can also be a risk factor for violence, since disclosure can put some women at risk of violence by their partners, family or community members.

VIDEO: Addressing violence against women: the health sector response


Prevention and response

To help ensure better care and support for those who have experienced partner violence or sexual violence, WHO works, among other things, to strengthen the health sector response to violence against women.

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