16 Days of Activism: Gender Based violence Stigma, and its Effects

16 Days of Activism: Gender Based violence Stigma, and its Effects


The 16 days of Activism campaign is significant in the lives of sexual and gender-based violence survivors globally. Every year, the UN charges the world to challenge SGBV and stand against all forms of violence. This year, the theme is “Orange the world: End violence against women now!

Taking a microscopic look at SGBV, we see that sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is a significant global human rights issue. It is violence that is targeted at women or men because of their sex and/or their socially constructed gender roles. However, in practice, SGBV is used interchangeably with violence against women and girls.

The stigma associated with gender-based violence (GBV) comes with its physical and mental health impacts, as well as the chances of experiencing additional violence on the part of the survivor. Stigma operates as a mechanism of social control at both interactional and structural levels to preserve the moral order. 

Survivors of gender-based violence frequently face unfair comments and stigma, and many cases go unreported. In rural communities, the survivor is made to face name-callings and sometimes gets bullied. In cases where the case gets reported to the community or village head, the survivor will be judged and made to face public shame. Those who are too afraid or ashamed to seek help do not receive the quality, confidential medical care they need for long-term recovery.  

Regardless of the target, gender-based violence is rooted in structural gender inequalities and is characterized by the use and abuse of physical, emotional, or financial power and control.

Studies on SGBV against women show that they suffer both mentally and physically along with societal consequences such as victim-blaming, and societal discrimination. GBV survivors can suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, this includes, unwanted pregnancies, fistula, STI’s like HIV/AIDS, etc.

Rape culture is a major challenge, as it encourages stigma, enables name-calling, victim-blaming, and supports the perpetrator. In IPV cases, women have been called names, as society thinks a woman can’t be sexually violated by her partner. In cases like this, the woman takes the blame, since that is what society believes.

The Stigma associated with being a GBV survivor in this part of the world is too difficult for many to handle, and so they do not seek help. This can lead to several effects on survivors both physically, socially, and mentally.  The effects of stigmatization are costly, intense, and long-lasting. These can be physical, psychological, social, or economic it may even lead to attempted suicide, mental ill-health, and acute depression. 

According to UNHCR, “SGBV effects can be multifaceted and can have a major impact on adult or child survivors; families; and the community. Individuals who are abused or who have been denied opportunity cannot fully participate in community life. Their ability to share their energy, ideas, skills, talents, and opinions with their families, communities, and so on is lost when their bodies and minds are damaged by SGBV. 

The community also pays a high price for SGBV. Businesses lose money due to the ill health of employees who have been abused. Responding to SGBV including law enforcement, health services, court, and legal proceedings, and social services requires both money and staff.

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