Gender-based violence (GBV) is a term that is loosely used by many without understanding what it is really about. Many even erroneously hold the belief that it is about a particular gender.
In simple terms, gender-based violence is any harmful act perpetrated against a person based on an individual’s sex or gender identity. It includes physical, sexual, or psychological abuse, threats, coercion, and denial of resources or access to services, whether occurring in public or private life.
It affects anyone, regardless of class, race, age, or religion. While women and girls are the most at risk and the most affected by GBV, boys, men, and sexual and gender minorities also experience GBV.
GBV is a violation of human rights, rooted in unjust power relations and discriminatory cultural norms that perpetuate inequality, poverty, lack of education and economic opportunities, lack of the rule of law and impunity for perpetrators contribute to and reinforce the cycle of violence and discrimination.
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There are various types of GBV, which include sexual violence such as rape, sexual exploitation and abuse; forced prostitution; domestic violence; forced and early marriage; harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation; honor crimes; widowhood Practices, inheritance; trafficking etc.
GBV can have serious long-term and life-threatening consequences for survivors. These consequences include but not limited to:
- Physical: such as minor to severe injuries leading to death or permanent disabilities; unintended pregnancies; unsafe abortion; sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
- Psychological: such as anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); depression; inability to trust; fear; substance use and abuse; sleep disorders; sexual dysfunction; suicide.
- Socio-economic: such as stigma, isolation and rejection (including by husbands and families); losses of income potential; interrupted education of adolescents; and homicide (e.g. honor killings or female infanticide).
All humanitarian actors have a responsibility to prevent and respond to GBV. Ensuring an effective response to GBV requires a multi-sectoral and coordinated effort by a variety of local, national and international actors.