When men are oppressed, it’s a tragedy, when women are oppressed, it’s tradition – Letty Pogrebin

The UN defines violence against women as “any act of gender based violence that leads to, or us likely to result in physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or intentional deprivation of freedom…”


Gender based violence can be committed under different forms, and the most widespread which is intimate partner violence, refers to behaviour by an intimate partner or ex-partner that causes physical, sexual or psychological hurt, as well as physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviours. [1]

PHYSICAL VIOLENCE: Physical violence is any intentional bodily harm suffered as a result of the application of physical force.

SEXUAL VIOLENCE: Sexual violence is any sexual act or attempt to obtain a sexual act by violence or coercion, acts to traffic a person or acts directed against a person’s sexuality.

PSYCHOLOGICAL VIOLENCE: Psychological violence is a form of abuse, characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another person to behaviour that could cause psychological trauma. For example, verbal abuse is a major from of psychological violence and can cause victim to experience low self-esteem, psychological trauma, and suicidal tendencies.

ECONOMIC VIOLENCE: Usually in form of sexual harassment at the work place or can also be sexual discrimination. For example, a man and woman may hold the exact same position and perform the same duties within a company, but the job title is different. The man may also be paid more, or he may be entitled to raises or promotions on a different schedule, and at a faster pace than his female colleagues.


Gender violence by intimate partner or otherwise, either physical, sexual and emotional, can cause serious short and long term physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health problems for women. These forms of violence also affect their children, their families and societies. Such violence can:

  • Lead to injuries. Women who experience violence by their partner or otherwise, report an injury as a consequence of this violence.
  • Lead to unintended pregnancies, induced abortions, gynaecological problems, and sexually transmitted infections. An analysis made in 2013 by WHO found out that women who had been physically or sexually abused were 1.5 times more likely to have a sexually transmitted infection, compared to women who had not experienced partner violence. They are also twice as likely to have an abortion.
  • Cause fatal outcomes like homicide or suicide by the victims.
  • Can lead to depression, post-traumatic stress and other anxiety disorders, sleep difficulties, eating disorders, and suicide attempts. The 2013 analysis also found that women who have experienced intimate partner violence were almost twice as likely to experience depression and drinking problem.[2]


As an individual;

  1. From the perspective of the victim, first, victim should confide in a close relative and then report immediately to the appropriate authorities, especially health care professional. The motives of reporting to a health care professional are;
  • To access the physical damage done
  • To receive prompt treatment for STIs, post exposure prophylaxis for HIV and treatment for other associated morbidities.
  • To receive a psychiatric consultation that will help handle the emotional damage and prevent future psychiatric complications.
  • To serve a as a confidential intermediary between the assaulted and law enforcement agency.
  • For constant follow up.

Note: You can see that involving a health care professional after each case of gender violence is advantageous and highly recommended. PLEASE VISIT YOUR PHYSICIAN

  1. From the perspective of a close associate to the victim;
  • The individual should be a close confidant and succour to the victim
  • The individual should constantly encourage he victim to visit the health care and report the case to the law enforcement agency.
  • The individual should avoid being judgmental to the victim.

As a society;

  • Advocacy and increased awareness are great tools to make violence against women unacceptable to society and the need for such violence to be addressed as a public health problem cannot be overemphasized.
  • Women right movements, groups, rallies, advertisement aimed at educating the populace against gender based violence.
  • Promote equal gender norms as part of life skills and comprehensive sexuality education curricula taught to young people.

As the Government;

  • Provide comprehensive services, sensitize and train health care providers in responding to the needs of survivors holistically and empathetically.
  • Prevent recurrence of violence through early identification of women and children who are experiencing violence and providing appropriate referral and support
  • Generate evidence on what works and on the magnitude of the problem by carrying out population-based surveys, or including violence against women in population-based demographic and health surveys, as well as in surveillance and health information systems.

When we talk as one, violence against women comes out from behind closed doors. Violence against women and girls in most societies goes unrecognized and unreported because we are afraid to communicate about it. Violence against women is a public issue and it’s a public concern that affects all segments of society.



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