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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;10:495-6
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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 2021 Mar 4];10:495-6. Available from: https://www.atmph.org/text.asp?2017/10/3/495/188510
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. 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.
Further, a shocking global estimate suggests that close to 40% of women’s murders are committed by an intimate partner.
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.,, In-fact most of these factors remain as the potential factors for being a victim of intimate partner and sexual violence.,
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.,
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.).,, 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., 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.
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. 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., 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.,,
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.,, Further, it is extremely important to sensitize health care providers to detect and prevent any forms of such violence among women and girls.,
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.
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
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest to declare.
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None