Gender Based Violence (GBV)

Gender Based Violence (GBV)

Gender Based Violence (GBV)

Gender based violence is any act that results in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, men and children

Key terms related to Gender-based Violence

  1. Gender;

This refers to the social and cultural construct of the roles, responsibilities, characteristics, opportunities, privileges, status and access to and control over resources and benefits between men and women, boys and girls in a given society.

  • Men and female are sex categories while masculine feminine are gender Aspect of sex will not vary substantially between different human societies while aspect of gender will vary greatly.
Example of gender characteristics
  • In developed countries women earn significantly less money than men for similar work.
  • In many society, many more men smoke tobacco than women as female smoking has not traditionally been considered appropriate.
  • In some countries, men are allowed to drive while women don’t.
2.     Gender-based violence;

This is any act that results in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, men and children. It also includes threats of such acts; coercion and deprivations of liberty whether occurring in public or in private life.


3.     Violence against women;

Refers to any act of gender-based violence that results in or is likely in physical, sexual and psychological harm to women and girls whether occurring in private or in public. Violence against women is a form of gender-based violence and includes sexual violence.


4.     Sexual violence, exploitation and abuse.

This refers to any act, attempt or threat of sexual nature.


5.     Gender equality

This is the state or condition that awards men and women equal engagement of human rights, socially valued goods, opportunities and resources.

6.     Gender blind

Refers to a policy or plan that is silent on relevant gender issues


7.     Gender responsiveness

This is a policy or plan with actionable strategy that seeks to reduce inequality and ensures equal distribution of the benefits associated with a particular service.

8. Sexual and gender-based violence is a serious form of discrimination, particularly against women and children and as such contravenes the principle of no It is both a public health problem and a human right issue.

9.     Sex

It’s defined as biological characteristics of male and females. The characteristics are congenital and their differences are limited to physiological reproductive functions.


10.     Violence

This is any act that causes injury, harm, intimidation, fear, damage or humiliation to s person. It is a mean of control and oppression that can include emotional, social and economic force or pressure as physical harms. Examples like; threatening someone with a weapon, intimidation, physical assaults etc. The person targeted by this kind of violence is to behave as expected or act against his/her will out of fear.

11.     Sex typing

This refers to the differential treatment for people according to their biological sex.


12.     Gender equity

This is when women and men, boys and girls have equal opportunities of receiving services which are equally accessible to all.


13.     Gender sensitive

This refers to being aware that women and men perform different roles and have different needs which must be planed for accordingly.


14.     Gender neutrality

This refers to planning for men and women as if they are homogenous i.e. without taking consideration of their different needs and roles. Such programs are usually not effective because they fail to response to gender specific needs of individual. Treatment care and services do not favor women and men e.g. women to be examined by male and vice versa.


15.  Gender roles

These are the different task and responsibilities that society, defines and allocates to women and men, girls and boys. They are not necessarily determined by their biological make up and therefore change according to situation, time and society.

16.     Coercion;

This is forcing or attempting to force another person to engage in behavior against this/her will by using threats, verbal insistence, manipulation, deception, cultural expectations or economic power.


17.     Sexual preference/orientation

This refers to a person’s preference for the same or opposite partner e.g. homosexual, heterosexual.

18.     Gender role stereotype

This is socially determining model which contain the cultural beliefs about what gender role should be.



–     Girls should be obedience and cute, and allow to cry while boys are expected to be brave. However, women are better house keeper and boys strong, good at machinery similarly, boys are better at mathematics and girls are good at language differs from gender role in that it tends to be the way people fill adult others should behave.

Forms of violence in Uganda

  1. Domestic violence such as wife battering, oppression, intimidation
  2. Sexual abuse g. Rape, defilement and incest.
  3. Harmful cultural practices like female genital mutilation and widow
  4. Forced marriages: Girl children are married off early for economic purposes in form of bride Others are married off early because the girl child culturally is destined for marriage instead of advancing in education.
  5. Others;
    • Sexual harassment and intimidation at work places, religious institutions and schools
    • Coercion or arbitrary deprivation of
    • Belief in large families
    • Men having forced sex with
    • Violence perpetrated or condoned by the
Setting where Gender-based violence can occur 
  • Family; i.e. battering of women, sexual abuse of children and incest
  • Community; sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation, trafficking and forced prostitution
  • State; poorly drafted or unenforceable laws, presence of law enforcement agents who violate people, lack of facilities and education for prevention and treatment of people exposed to violence.

Predisposing factors of sexual and gender violence

  1. Low socio- economic status (topical) in the Women‘s low status in the community and their dependence on men to make decisions increase inequality and vulnerability to violence.
  2. Infertility leading to the husbands and relatives blaming, battering or abandoning wife for this inability.
  3. Fear of reporting because the perpetuators are not reprimanded and can easily come back to revenge.
  4. Cultural definitions of gender roles e.g. Girls are made to fetch water, fire wood, cultivate and cook for the family. It is through execution of these duties that they meet men who defile them or boys grow up not knowing that they can help in performing some of the activities like cooking, washing utensils, clothes etc.
  5. Some cultural practices like female genital mutilation, promoting early marriages of the girl child so as to earn bride pride for financial gains.
  6. Physical and mental disabilities leading to rejection, discrimination and stigmatization. For instance people with blindness, deafness,
  7. Ill health especially from HIV/AIDS.
  8. Poverty making parents to force their daughters to be defiled or married so as to get some money as compensation.
  9. Idleness and redundancy leading to over consumption of alcohol, drug abuse e.t.c.
  10. Abduction of children exposing them to rape, defilement and assaults.
  11. Land wrangles especially after a loss of a husband; the wife is denied ownership of property.
  12. Conflict and camp environment resulting in congestion and loss of good morals.
  13. Poor role modeling for boys and girls

Risk groups for Sexual Gender-based Violence

  1. All children and women
  2. Adolescents
  3. Displaced persons including refugees
  4. People with disabilities
  5. Prisoners
  6. Men in particular as they fear reporting acts of violence because they fear being embarrassed.
  7. Pregnant mothers

Reasons for staying in an abusive relationship

  1. Hope for change
  2. Total love to the partner
  3. Fear of losing the marriage
  4. Purpose of the children
  5. Shame
  6. Poverty- fear of returning the bride price
  7. Security purpose

Characteristics of those who are abused

  1. They believe that violence give them immediate result
  2. They are insecure, extremely jealous and possessive
  3. They are emotionally dependent on other partner
  4. They deny that their action are violence
  5. They have poor impulse control

Impacts of Sexual Gender-based Violence

 These may be physical and or psychological

  1. Various forms of injury, physical, mental and psychosocial to the body of the victim/survivor.
  2. Reduced quality of life and low self esteem
  3. Sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS
  4. Unwanted pregnancies resulting into unsafe abortion which can result in the lifelong health effects and death/suicide
  5. Poverty and loss of means of livelihood
  6. School dropout and unknown paternity of children
  7. Psychological and behavioral problems in children
  8. Rejection of survivors by society/stigmatization
  9. Divorce
  10. Child neglect
  11. Loss of friends
  12. Spiritual shame
  13. Prostitution
  14. Alcoholism
  15. Early marriage
  16. Suicidal attempt and ideation

8Ways through which Sexual Gender-based Violence can be reduced in Uganda

Sexual and gender-based violence should be recognized as an important public health matter. Therefore, everyone in the community can contribute tremendously to reducing the acts of sexual gender-based violence by actively doing the following:

  1. Leaders should spearhead sensitization of communities on the impacts of sexual gender-based violence throughout the country.
  2. Reporting all acts of violence to the health centers, police, and other relevant authorities.
  3. Ensuring that those who commit these acts are punished appropriately.
  4. Some of the current measures to punish the perpetrators should be revised and made stronger to deter people from committing acts of violence.
  5. Communities should be encouraged to stop the culture of silence which hampers victims from reporting fearing the repercussions e.g. imprisonment and stigmatization.
  6. Advocacy to reduce sexual and gender-based violence must be intensified at all levels.
  7. Review the legal systems to improve the court relationship between the legal officers and the victims.
  8. Improve the relationship between the legal and other practitioners during court session.
  9. Health workers should be supported to undertake their roles to manage and care for survivors of Sexual Gender-based Violence.

Roles of leaders on SGBV in their community

The following ways can be used by leaders to fight Sexual Gender-based Violence by:

  1. Speaking out against Sexual Gender-based Violence at every opportunity for instance during community meetings, campaigns, fundraising, funerals, drinking places.
  2. Leaders should strive to act as role models by avoiding being perpetrators of SGBV.
  3. Assisting victims to get help and to see that the culprits such as defilers, rapists, men who batter their wives are reported to the police and punished appropriately.
  4. Leaders can form counseling groups to help men, children and women who are perpetrators of Sexual Gender-based Violence.

Control and prevention of Sexual Gender-based Violence

  1. Improve girl child education at all level.
  2. Reducing the high level of poor socio-economic status will in long run reduce women vulnerability to violence.
  3. Increasing awareness of women‘s rights and responsibilities related to owning property and assets.
  4. Reviewing and amending laws that safeguard women‘s rights.
  5. Strengthening nationwide/community wide efforts to challenge the widespread tolerance and acceptance of violence against women.
  6. Encouraging parents to bring up children who respect the rights of individuals as men or women, boys or girls
  7. Supporting parents to bring up their boys and girls as equal partners

Reasons why the community and leaders be concerned about SGBV

  1. Damages social bonds if women and girl who are sexually abused isolate themselves or are isolated by their families and communities.
  2. Places a substantial health burden on the health care Example, victims often present with vague complaints that are difficult to diagnose and to treat.
  3. Brings economic loss to households and communities when victims of Sexual Gender-based Violence due to physical injury or emotional stress are unable to undertake their roles in the households and the workplace (in many Uganda villages, women are among the key bread winners in their homes).
  4. Bring a legacy of bitterness especially in conflict situation towards the group from which the perpetrators came. This will have a negative long term impacts on reconciliation and community reconstruction.

Roles of health workers in managing victims and addressing gender-based violence

This is important to note that health workers play instrumental roles in ensuring that families and victims of gender-based violence are professionally attended and see that the victims get justice. Therefore, the following cited are some of roles of health worker in gender-based violence management;

  1. Offering psychosocial support and counseling services to the affected families and individuals.
  2. Liaising with people and other stakeholders to see that the perpetrator (culprits) is brought to book to prevent possibility of reoccurrences.
  3. Collecting victim‘s medical information and performing required medical examination to promote continuity of care.
  4. Creating a friendly and confidential environment (shelter) where victims needs are addressed.
  5. Offering timely and appropriate referral services as needed.
  6. Establishing and promoting strict reporting of all gender-based violence related cases to responsible authority and ensure victims get fair justice.
  7. Ensuring and maintaining constant follow-up care of all affected families or victims.
Sources of help for victims of SGBV
  • Police
  • Probation officers
  • Child and family protection unit.
  • Local leaders/elders
  • Trusted person or family members
  • Counselors etc

Note: In some African cultures, beating a woman or girls is part of the disciplining process; in fact some women even willingly accept to be beaten

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