Sexual and reproductive health

Violence against women

RESPECT women: preventing violence against women

29 May 2019 | WHO with UNWomen, together with OHCHR, UNFPA, UNODC, UNDP, UKaid, USAID, SIDA, the government the Netherlands, and the World Bank Group, have developed RESPECT women: Preventing violence against women. The framework contains a set of action-oriented steps that enables policymakers and health implementers to design, plan, implement, monitor and evaluate interventions and programmes using seven strategies to prevent VAW. The strategies are summarized in RESPECT, with each letter representing one strategy.

Displaced or refugee women are at increased risk of violence. What can WHO do?

Back view of a refugee woman sitting in a street.
UNFPA

23 November 2018 | The estimate that 1 in 3 women around the world have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner is one that is widely cited today. Whilst this is a worldwide figure, there is variation in the prevalence of violence seen within and between communities, countries and regions. Even though data are scarce, we know that in humanitarian and emergency settings, linked to an increase in armed actors and a decrease in security as a result of broken social and protective networks, the risk to women of different forms of violence are even greater.

Interagency statement calls for the elimination of “virginity-testing”

17 October 2018 | WHO, UN Human Rights and UN Women have today issued a statement calling for the elimination of so-called “virginity testing”. “Virginity testing”, which is also often referred to as hymen, “two-finger” or per vaginal examination, is an inspection of female genitalia designed to determine whether a woman or girl has had vaginal intercourse.

WHO launches new manual to strengthen health systems to better respond to women survivors of violence

24 November 2017 | Health care providers have an important role to play in identifying women who experience violence, and responding to them with empathy. In order for health care providers to be able to respond appropriately, health systems need to be strengthened so that women receive high-quality and respectful care. In recognition of this, WHO has launched a new manual to help health managers and policy-makers to strengthen health systems to deliver better quality of care to women who are subjected to violence.

Responding to children and adolescents who have been sexually abused

Image of the guide front cover
Photo: UNICEF/Asselin

19 October 2017: For the first time, WHO has published guidelines to help (primarily) front-line healthcare providers give high-quality, compassionate, and respectful care to children and adolescents (up to age 18) who have or may have experienced sexual abuse, including sexual assault or rape.

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Definition of violence against women

The United Nations defines violence against women as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life."

Global Plan of Action

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VAW and HIV

Prevention and response

To help ensure better care and support for those who have experienced partner violence or sexual violence, WHO works, among other things, to strengthen the health sector response to violence against women.

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