Campaign to address Gender Based Violence as a Health Issue
WomenPowerConnect (WPC) launches campaign to address Gender Based Violence as a Health issue. This campaign is aimed at spreading awareness on Gender Based Violence and stresses on the need to treat it as health issue along with social and legal one. While GBV applies to women and men, girls and boys, the overwhelming majority of victims are female. As a result of gender discrimination and their lower socio-economic status, women have fewer options and resources at their disposal to avoid or escape abusive situations and to seek justice. They also suffer greater health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and resulting deaths, traumatic fistula, and higher risks of sexually transmitted infections. Violence against women and girls is not just a human rights violation and needs to be addressed as a public health priority. The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) defines the term violence against women in Article 1 as “Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”. This includes: spousal battery, sexual abuse, dowry-related violence; female genital mutilation/cutting and other practices harmful to women, trafficking and forced prostitution. . Need to strengthen the health sector’s role in addressing GBV. WPC appeals to the government to establish or improve health-sector policy, legal and normative frameworks and protocols for screening, managing and referring cases of GBV in its various forms. • Institutionalizing GBV in pre-service training curricula for all health professionals; equipping health centres adequately with separate rooms for private consultations and medical exams in cases of rape and other forms of physical abuse; ensuring the availability of emergency contraception supplies, post-rape kits, etc.; providing post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) in order to prevent HIV transmission to victims who have been raped or have engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse. • Raising awareness of reproductive rights and treating violations in the health sector as a form of GBV (from unavailability or disruption of contraceptive supplies, to judgemental or biased treatment based on reproductive status or choices, coercive family planning counselling, denial of contraceptives, forced sterilization/abortions, verbal or physical abuse by health-centre staff that pose a barrier to reproductive health care access, etc.); and instituting health-sector policies and human rights mechanisms for redress (promoting community oversight mechanisms, disciplinary sanctions and awareness-raising in the judiciary and national human rights institutions). • Advocating for civil society groups working on violence against women and girls to be included in national HIV and AIDS coordinating committees; coalition-building at local levels to establish and strengthen multi-sectoral networks for the prevention and management of violence against women and to respond to the range of survivors’ needs (legal, safety, health, economic and cultural considerations). Promoting gender equality and ending violence requires a concerted effort to actively engage men/boys as partners in the campaign as they are both the primary perpetrators of GBV, and a major part of the solution. The aim is to launch public education and mobilization campaigns, by and for men opposed to violence against women, in collaboration with women’s groups; to explicitly target social notions of entitlement that perpetuate GBV. To mobilize the public to press for reform in male-dominated institutions such as the armed forces and the police by institutionalizing sensitization on violence against women and gender issues in their policies and training programmes. WomenPowerConnect is a membership based organization which acts as a bridge on women’s issues and links voices of women including those from the grassroots to the legislature. In April, 2011, Women Power Connect will present the signatures to the Health Minister. Fight Against Gender Based Violence in India, Sign our Petition today!