Sexual and reproductive health

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

A victim of gender-based violence talk to a counsellor, Zambia.
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.

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.

World Health Assembly adopts a historic resolution that addresses violence against women and girls

Photo of Dr Christine Kaseba-Sata, First Lady of Zambia giving a speech at the World Health Assembly
Dr Christine Kaseba-Sata, First Lady of Zambia at the 67th World Health Assembly

20 MAY 2014 – Dr Christine Kaseba-Sata, First Lady of Zambia, addressed delegates at the World Health Assembly and deplored the prevalence of violence against women and girls and the extent to which cases of violence remain hidden and unrecognized. Member States adopted a resolution on “Strengthening the role of the health system in addressing violence, in particular against women and girls, and against children” at the 67th World Health Assembly.

Violence against women (VAW)

Sexual violence

Sexual violence is a serious public health and human rights problem with both short- and long-term consequences on women's physical, mental, and sexual and reproductive health.


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.

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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