Annals of Tropical Medicine and Public Health

EDITORIAL COMMENTARY
Year
: 2017  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 495--496

A newer toolkit to respond to sexual violence on a global scale: World Health Organization


Saurabh R Shrivastava, Prateek S Shrivastava, Jegadeesh Ramasamy 
 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh R Shrivastava
3rd Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai village, Thiruporur: Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu
India




How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. A newer toolkit to respond to sexual violence on a global scale: World Health Organization.Ann Trop Med Public Health 2017;10:495-496


How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. A newer toolkit to respond to sexual violence on a global scale: World Health Organization. Ann Trop Med Public Health [serial online] 2017 [cited 2019 Nov 15 ];10:495-496
Available from: http://www.atmph.org/text.asp?2017/10/3/495/188510


Full Text

 Introduction



Globally, violence against women, especially intimate partner violence and sexual violence has been acknowledged as one of the major social public health concerns and a serious form of violation of women's human rights.[1] The recent estimates reflect that one in every three women worldwide experience some form of physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence by a nonpartner in their lifetime.[1]

Further, a shocking global estimate suggests that close to 40% of women's murders are committed by an intimate partner.[1]

Potential determinants

A wide range of risk factors for being a perpetrator have been identified like poor education status, history of exposure to child maltreatment or family violence, substance abuse, doubt about the fidelity, and having an attitude that violence is a part of life, or sex inequality is the norm of the society.[1],[2],[3] In-fact most of these factors remain as the potential factors for being a victim of intimate partner and sexual violence.[2],[3]

Further, sociocultural beliefs (viz. family honour, male dominance over females, etc.), loopholes in the existing legislative provisions, and conflicts/postconflict circumstances tend to aggravate the violence against women.[1],[3]

The after-effects of sexual violence

The consequences of intimate partner and sexual violence have been serious ranging from fatal events (like suicide or homicide), poor gynecological outcomes (viz. unwanted conceptions, miscarriage, induced abortions, stillbirths, pre-term delivery, low-birth weight, etc.), injuries, sexually transmitted infections (an added 1.5 times risk in women exposed to sexual violence), psychiatric illnesses (like depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, sleep disturbances, eating disorders, etc.), and to various forms of morbidities (viz. myalgia, gastrointestinal disorders, restricted mobility, etc.).[2],[3],[4] In addition, children who are reared in families with frequent episodes of violence tend to have high-risk behaviors like smoking, alcohol misuse, drug abuse, or even sexual abuse in the future.[3],[4] Further, from the socioeconomic perspective, most of the women victims suffer from isolation, inability to work, loss of wages, no participation in routine social activities, and care for themselves and their children.[1]

Launch of a newer toolkit

Acknowledging the universal distribution, its magnitude, and associated short-term and long-term adverse consequences, the World Health Organization (WHO) has called for support from all the stakeholders, so that a multi-sectoral approach can be formulated and all forms of violence against women can be prevented and their human rights are not violated.[5] In-fact, the WHO in collaboration with their international partner has launched a special toolkit (comprising of recommendations for performing forensic medical examinations, proper documentation, the necessity of a thorough initial investigation, and expected ethical norms) to assist nations to strengthen their medicolegal response to sexual violence.[5],[6] This is the need of the hour as it will aid stakeholders to punish the perpetrators of sexual violence, and enable justice for the victims, even in low-resource settings.[1],[5],[6]

Prerequisites for enhancing the benefits

However, to accomplish sustainable results, the policy makers should aim to prevent occurrence of intimate partner and sexual violence in the first place itself, through school-based interventions, ensuring sex equality, promoting communication within couples and communities, reducing access to alcohol, and implementing periodic awareness campaigns to alter the sociocultural norms prevalent in the society.[1],[2],[6] Further, it is extremely important to sensitize health care providers to detect and prevent any forms of such violence among women and girls.[4],[6]

 Conclusion



To conclude, if the global leaders actually aim to eliminate intimate partner and sexual violence, the primary target is to ensure equality between women and men. At the same time, intensive awareness campaigns for the general population and strengthening of the medicolegal response can significantly reduce discrimination against women.

Acknowledgement

S.R.S. contributed in the conception or design of the work, drafting of the work, approval of the final version of the manuscript, and agreed for all aspects of the work.

P.S.S. contributed in the literature review, revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content, approval of the final version of the manuscript, and agreed for all aspects of the work.

J.R. contributed in revising the draft, approval of the final version of the manuscript, and agreed for all aspects of the work.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest to declare.

References

1World Health OrganizationViolence against women: intimate partner and sexual violence against women: Fact sheet N°239;2014. Available from: http://who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/. [Accessed 2015 Dec 8].
2Shrivastava PS, Shrivastava SR. A study of spousal domestic violence in an urban slum of Mumbai. Int J Prev Med 2013;4:27-32.
3Johnson WL, Manning WD, Giordano PC, Longmore MA. Relationship context and intimate partner violence from adolescence to young adulthood. J Adolesc Health 2015;57:631-36.
4Bourey C, Williams W, Bernstein EE, Stephenson R. Systematic review of structural interventions for intimate partner violence in low- and middle-income countries: organizing evidence for prevention. BMC Public Health 2015;15:1165.
5WHO, United Nations Office on Drugs and CrimeStrengthening the medico-legal response to sexual violence. Geneva: WHO press; 2015.p. 1-5.
6World Health OrganizationWHO launches toolkit to help countries respond to sexual violence; 2015. Available from: http://who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2015/sexual-violence-elimination/en/. [Accessed 2015 Dec 5].