WHO launches toolkit to help countries respond to sexual violence
Global Health Issues
25 November 2015
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
WHO releases a new tool for medical and legal professionals to ensure that proper evidence is collected in cases of sexual violence to help bring justice for victims. The goal is to end impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence and help eliminate violence against women. Globally 1 in 3 women has been a victim of physical/sexual partner violence in her lifetime.
Although anyone can be a victim of violence, including children and women and men of all ages, recent global 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. Women who experience partner violence are twice as likely to suffer from depression and 1.5 times more likely to have a sexually transmitted infection including HIV, compared to those who have never been exposed to such violence. They are also more likely to have unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and when the violence occurs during pregnancy to suffer miscarriages, stillbirths, premature births and to have low birth weight babies. Situations of conflict, post conflict and displacement may exacerbate existing forms of violence and present additional forms of violence against women. WHO works to address violence against women by helping strengthen the role of the health sector within a multi-sectoral approach to prevention and response.
This toolkit is practitioner focused and provides practical guidance to help support service provision and coordination of the medico-legal response in low-resource settings. It contains one-page reference cards on, for example, conducting a forensic examination, taking a statement, ethical issues, to enable quick and easy access to basic and key information. It is part of a World Health Organization and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) project on Strengthening Medico-Legal Services for Sexual Violence Cases in Conflict-Affected Settings, supported by United Nations Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict (UN Action).