Gender-based violence is a worldwide
problem that, studies show, may affect one out of three women. Abuses ranging from
verbal abuse to rape to such traditional practices as female genital cutting are
physically and psychologically damaging—and are human rights violations. Many
victims are never seen by a medical professional to address their abuse, making
assisting them a challenge.
As part of its work to counter genderbased violence, UNFPA has supported training of medical professionals, to make
them more sensitive towards women who may have experienced violence and to
meet their health needs. Pilot interventions have been tested in 10 countries—Cape
Verde, Ecuador, Guatemala, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mozambique, Nepal, Romania,
Russia and Sri Lanka.
Following consultations with health providers and clients, all women were
screened for abuse in some pilot projects. Possible victims have been offered legal, medical
and psychological support, and medical referrals when necessary. Some of the pilots
have been undertaken with local authorities and hospitals, others work with NGO networks.
Attention has been paid to involving communities, and to creating support networks
for gender-based violence victims that include both police and healthcare providers,
along with counselling services.
UNFPA has also held workshops for health providers on recognizing the effects
of gender-based violence on women’s health, and on how to detect and prevent abuse
and assist victims. These have stressed the need for confidentiality and monitoring.
An evaluation found the pilots successful and worthy of continued support.
Recommendations include a call for governments to recognize gender-based
violence as a public health concern.
Based on this experience UNFPA has produced a manual, A Practical Approach to
Gender-based Violence, which has been translated into seven languages. See Sources