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Blog Posts2019-01-31T16:10:01+00:00
412, 2018

Child Marriage Statistics

Preventing child marriage is a critical component in the fight against GBV. It is a form of GBV itself and a risk factor for other forms of violence. Click on our graph to explore rates of child marriage across the world.

312, 2018

The intersection of gender and disability must be urgently addressed to prevent violence in the context of the Zika epidemic

By: Maddison Hall, Elga Salvador, and Tisa Barrios Wilson Around 15% of the world’s population is living with some form of disability, and this prevalence is expected to rise in concurrence with the aging of populations and increasing burden of chronic disease.  Existing data consistently demonstrates that individuals with disabilities experience violence at higher rates than individuals without disabilities. Lack of social support, stigma, institutionalization, ignorance, and discrimination all contribute to the risk for violence among people with disabilities; this violence may originate from a number of sources including medical personnel, caregivers, and intimate partners. Experiences of violence can exacerbate the often-ignored health and social disparities people with disabilities already face. Both disability and gender can put individuals at increased risk of violence, but the intersection of disability and gender-based violence (GBV) has often been overlooked. The prevalence of disability among women is 19.2%, which is higher than the global prevalence of disability (15%). Data analyzing experiences of GBV among people with disabilities is limited, and existing studies have found contradicting results about the prevalence of GBV among people with disabilities. Women with physical and visual disabilities in Spain were found to have much higher rates of GBV than women without disabilities. In Cambodia, women with disabilities are at an increased risk for emotional, physical and sexual violence from family members. Women with disabilities are more likely to experience intimate partner violence than women without disabilities, and their partners are more likely to demonstrate dominant or proprietary behavior. While women with disabilities are more likely to experience violence than women without disabilities in the United States, there is not a significant difference in risk of violence between men and women with disabilities. Rates of sexual violence are high among people with disabilities, particularly women. The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey reported that in the United States from 2011-2015 the rate of rape and sexual assault against people with intellectual disabilities was more than seven times the rate against people without disabilities. Among women with intellectual disabilities, it was about 12 times the rate. Additionally, transgender people with disabilities experience sexual violence at higher rates than transgender people without disabilities. Even with limited data on the prevalence of GBV among people with disabilities, there is clear evidence that the experiences of people with disabilities in relation to GBV are unique.  Violence against people with disabilities is underreported, since individuals with disabilities face distinct challenges in reporting GBV or accessing services. Service locations or shelters may not be accessible to people with disabilities, legal officials may question the validity of reports from people with disabilities, and people with speech disabilities may face difficulties with communication in the absence of inclusive methods of communication. Further, because caregivers are often the perpetrators of violence against people with disabilities, they may be unwilling or unable to report violence due to fear of retaliation or lack of support. Under USAID’s Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) Project, WI-HER and our partners [...]

3011, 2018

Untold Stories: The Impact of Gender-Based Violence on Men and Boys

By: Morgan Mickle, Gender Specialist, WI-HER, LLC Gender-based violence (GBV) occurs in every region of the world, affecting individuals and families of diverse income and socio-demographic groups. GBV undermines the health, dignity, security, and autonomy of persons affected, yet remains surrounded by a culture of silence. While women and girls are most at risk to many forms of gender-based violence due to their increased vulnerability and marginalization, we must not overlook the impacts of violence against men and boys. A recent Promundo study on masculine norms and violence reported that “globally, men and boys are disproportionately likely to perpetuate most forms of violence and to die by homicide and suicide”. The World Health Organization estimates that the lifetime prevalence of childhood sexual abuse against males (under 18) is 7.6% globally (compared to 18% for girls), but other research suggests this number could be anywhere between 3 and 17 percent depending on the country. UNICEF reports that around 15 million adolescent girls between 15 and 19 worldwide have experienced forced sex in their lifetime, but that while boys are also at risk, a global estimate is unavailable for them. These discrepancies in data reported by both the WHO and UNICEF are likely influenced by the culture of silence around men and sexual violence as the true number of survivors is vastly underreported. “There are many barriers that may prevent a man from disclosing his experience not only is there a lack of awareness about the issue and its prevalence, but societal expectations about what it means to “be a man” may cause a survivor to suppress his trauma. From an early age, men receive the message that they should never be, or even appear, vulnerable or weak; the idea that men cannot be victims is central to gender socialization”.  Research from North American and European countries has shown that boys are more likely than girls to face abuse from a non-family member, and perpetrators are often older males known to the survivor. However, studies from Bosnia, Liberia, and Rwanda among others have shown that in conflict settings women have been involved in sexual violence, often with groups of men, towards other men and women. Furthermore, men and boys may not successfully be able to fully access and utilize health, legal, and support services as health providers and authorities “may not know how to identify signs of sexual violence against males, due to gendered assumptions of women as victims and men  as perpetrators. Some may be hostile, profess disbelief, or dismiss male victims outright”; which may also impact reporting.  “Research conducted in a  broad range of contexts  and regions confirms that  the physical, mental, social,  and economic impact of sexual violence  on men and boys can be devastating, with  both short- and long-term effects”. Physical consequences include injuries to the genital areas, urinary and bowel incontinence, sexually  transmitted infections including HIV, sexual dysfunction, and infertility. Psychologically, male survivors may feel shame and guilt. “Some survivors struggle with gender identity and sexual orientation [...]

2811, 2018

Zika, Condom Negotiation, and Gender-Based Violence in Latin America

By Tisa Barrios Wilson and Elga Salvador "The women say, 'I understand', they take the condoms from their antenatal care appointment, but they never tell their partners for fear of how they will react. They prefer to be silent … and there is a risk that the pregnant women will be hit." (Health Provider, Zacapa, Guatemala) Zika is a virus that is endemic in the Latin America and the Caribbean region and while it is most known for being mosquito-borne, it is also sexually transmitted. Zika is linked with a spectrum of birth defects called Congenital Syndrome associate with Zika (CSaZ), most notably microcephaly, when a pregnant woman becomes infected. This is why the CDC and WHO recommend that couples use condoms during pregnancy to prevent Zika transmission. However, this isn’t an easy sell in Latin America where machismo culture contributes to strict gender norms and where women may have limited autonomy over their sexual and reproductive health. While health facilities are starting to distribute condoms to pregnant women at their antenatal care (ANC) appointments, many health providers have found these same condoms in trash cans at the end of the day. Some women did not feel comfortable taking condoms home to their partners, so what is happening here? WI-HER is working with USAID’s Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) Project in 13 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. WI-HER has conducted interviews and focus groups with health providers, pregnant women, and their partners, to uncover gender insights to help increase condom use among pregnant couples and increase male engagement in Zika response the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Honduras. However, a consistent theme that comes up time and time again is that women fear violence and maltreatment from their partners. Our previous blog introduces the scope of gender-based violence (GBV) in Latin America and why GBV contributes to women’s vulnerability to Zika infection, but this time we’ll be analyzing violence in the context condom use and Zika in order to design more effective prevention efforts. The interviews and focus groups revealed that proposing condom use within a married or committed relationship signals that they do not trust their partner. Since condom use is traditionally associated with cheating or sex work, a woman’s request to use condoms can be perceived as an offense, lack of trust, an accusation of infidelity, or it can rouse suspicion about the woman’s fidelity. Many men perceive this as threatening their authority and control over their family. “To ask the husband to use condoms is considered a lack of respect. It is as if you do not trust him.” (Woman, Barahona, Dominican Republic) “Once I had enough getting injections for family planning and told my husband: ‘if you don’t want me to get pregnant, let’s use condoms’; he told me: ‘You are crazy! I prefer we break up, tell me if you are cheating on me with another man’. He got jealous; I was his wife, in his home.” (Woman, Santo Domingo, Dominican [...]

2811, 2018

Zika, negociación de condones y violencia de género en América Latina

Por Tisa Barrios Wilson and Elga Salvador “Dicen ‘Entiendo’, se lo llevan, pero nunca se los proponen por miedo a como va a reaccionar. Prefieren callar. El esposo ni siquiera se entera … y hay el riesgo que se golpeen las mujeres embarazadas.”  (Proveedor de salud, Zacapa, Guatemala) El Zika es un virus endémico en la región de América Latina y el Caribe y aunque es más conocido por ser transmitido por mosquitos, también se transmite sexualmente. El Zika está relacionado con un espectro de defectos de nacimiento llamado Síndrome Congénito asociado al virus Zika (SCaZ), especialmente con la microcefalia, cuando una mujer embarazada se infecta. Es por eso que los CDC y la OMS recomiendan que las parejas usen condones durante el embarazo para prevenir la transmisión del Zika. Sin embargo, esto no es fácil de promover en América Latina, donde el machismo cultural contribuye a las estrictas normas de género y donde muchas mujeres tienen limitada autonomía sobre su salud sexual y reproductiva. Mientras que los centros de salud están comenzando a distribuir condones a las mujeres embarazadas en sus citas de atención prenatal (APN), muchos proveedores de salud han encontrado estos mismos condones en los basureros al final del día. Algunas mujeres no se sentían cómodas llevándose condones a casa con sus parejas, entonces, ¿qué está pasando? WI-HER está trabajando con el Proyecto de USAID Aplicando la Ciencia para Fortalecer y Mejorar los Sistemas de Salud (ASSIST) en 13 países de América Latina y el Caribe. WI-HER ha realizado entrevistas y grupos focales de discusión con proveedores de salud, mujeres embarazadas y sus parejas, para identificar sobre cuales asuntos de género intervenir para contribuir a aumentar el uso del condón entre las parejas embarazadas y aumentar la participación masculina en la respuesta del Zika en la República Dominicana, Guatemala y Honduras. Sin embargo, un tema que surge a menudo es que las mujeres sufran violencia y maltrato por parte de sus parejas. Nuestro blog anterior presentó el alcance de la violencia basada en género (VBG) en América Latina y habló del por qué la VBG contribuye a la vulnerabilidad de las mujeres a la infección por Zika; esta vez,  en base a los estudios realizados en el contexto del Zika, profundizaremos sobre las dinámicas de violencia relacionadas con la el uso del condón. Las entrevistas y los grupos focales revelaron que proponer el uso del condón dentro de una unión libre o un matrimonio se asocia a desconfianza en la pareja. Debido a que el uso del condón tradicionalmente se ha considerado algo relacionado con el engaño o el trabajo sexual, la solicitud de una mujer a su pareja de usar condones puede percibirse como una ofensa, falta de confianza, una acusación de infidelidad, o puede generar sospechas sobre la fidelidad de la mujer. Muchos hombres perciben que esto amenaza su autoridad y su control sobre la familia. “Pedir al esposo de usar un condón puede ser considerada una falta de respeto. Es como si no confiaras [...]

2711, 2018

16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence: Gender-Based Violence and Migration

By Maddison Hall and Kelly Dale Migration–forced and voluntary –exposes refugees, asylum seekers, internally-displaced persons (IDPs), and immigrants to a number of risk factors associated with sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). As we witness rapidly increasing migration rates and unprecedented levels of displacement, it is critical to recognize the ways in which SGBV and displacement are interconnected. We must also develop policies, programs, and services to mitigate SGBV and support individuals among these populations who have experienced SGBV. It is important to note that while sexual and gender-based violence cuts across all ages and affects people of all genders, women and girls bear a disproportionate amount of the burden of SGBV. As a part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign, this blog aims to discuss risk factors and outcomes for sexual and gender-based violence during migration and advocate for policies and programs that prevent and respond SGBV. Migrants may experience SGBV before, during, or after migration. Intimate partner violence (IPV) or forced or early marriage are known drivers for migration; these experiences may encourage individuals to flee or escape their abuse. Embarking on their journeys, migrants are vulnerable to abuse from individuals facilitating transportation, immigration officials, or even legal officers. They may be coerced into transactional sexual experiences to continue forward on their journeys, or some are forced into systems of human trafficking. Refugee and migrant hosting countries may not have sound or accessible legal or social support systems, potentially creating additional challenges for victims to access help. Isolation, poverty, housing insecurity, and unsafe living conditions may put them at risk for SGBV. Within their families, financial stress may be high, and immigration can disrupt cultural norms and power balances. Shifting family dynamics and gender norms and roles may contribute to SGBV as migrant families adapt to different lifestyles and cultures. Outside of their homes, migrants may be compelled to trade transactional sex for job security, food, or favors. Migrant workers, especially those without proper immigration documentation, may experience SGBV from their employers or supervisors in their workplace. Migrant populations encounter a variety of legal restrictions and barriers to their ability to work; even in countries in which refugees or immigrants may be granted the right to work, there may be barriers to accessing jobs in the formalized job market, particularly if there are costly or challenging work permit procedures. The inability to work could threaten men’s sense of self, leading to harmful displays of masculinity, including IPV. Migrants involved in informal job sectors are vulnerable to abuse at multiple levels, including SGBV, and they may be unaware of their legal rights relating to employment. Migrants, primarily women and children, face unique hardships along their perilous journeys and additional challenges as they adjust and integrate into new surroundings. There are opportunities for the global development community to support them in this process. First, they need access to a spectrum of health services, opportunities for psychosocial support, and access to legal and justice systems that inform them of [...]

2511, 2018

16 Days of Activism

Today marks the first day of the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign- a global movement from November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to December 10, Human Rights Day. These 16 days draw attention to the women, men, boys, and girls who are experiencing, have experienced, or will experience violence in their lifetime. Follow along each day as WI-HER shares a “pearl of wisdom”- our pearls will be in the form of new research, programming insights, voices of support, or calls to action. Today, we are sharing some facts and figures: Approximately 35% of women worldwide experience either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence (or both) in their lifetimes. Worldwide, roughly 15 million girls aged 15 to 19 have experienced forced sex. In the 30 countries with representative data on prevalence, at least 200 million living women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation.  While the rate of child marriage is declining, it stands today at approximately one in five young women who will be married before their 18th birthday. Women and girls account for 71% of human trafficking victims- three in four of them are trafficked for sexual exploitation. Less than 40% of the women who experience violence seek help. [1] Men experience violence too: 3% of American men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. Roughly 2.78 million men in the United States have been victims of sexual assault or rape. [2] In the US, 1 in 4 men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. [3] @UN_Women #16pearls #16Days #OrangeTheWorld #HearMeToo #GBV    

2111, 2018

Co-responsibility: Male Involvement in Antenatal Care in Zika Prevention

By: Tisa Barrios Wilson and Elga Salvador In many low and middle-income countries (LMICs), men are the primary providers and key decision-makers in the family, often determining women's access to economic resources and restricting women’s ability to make choices about their health and children’s health.1 Since many health systems require out-of-pocket payments, this practice can limit women's access to maternal health services and obstetric care, which are essential to Zika prevention and overall maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH).1 In addition, women’s decreased decision-making power may interfere with their ability to engage in safe prevention practices, such as wearing a condom to prevent Zika and other STIs, and in important activities critical to child development, such as adequate maternal nutrition during pregnancy, breastfeeding practices, and caring for a sick or disabled child.2 Engaging men during pregnancy through antenatal care (ANC) visits is a critical entry-point for Zika prevention, to improve MNCH, and to address couples’ decision-making dynamics.3 Men’s greater involvement can also open opportunities to improve men’s own sexual and reproductive health, disrupt intergenerational cycles of violence, and promote men’s roles as advocates for MNCH.3 ANC visits increase men's knowledge about the importance of maternal, postnatal, and child health services which can make them more invested in the health of their partners and children.4,5 This knowledge can translate into the provision of resources for accessing maternal services such as transportation to the hospital for delivery and payment of user fees, but also as long-term investments such as early father involvement in the infant’s life which is beneficial for child development.6 Several studies in LMICs report positive benefits of male involvement in ANC visits, including: increased maternal access to antenatal and postnatal services, use of a skilled birth attendant, discouragement of unhealthy maternal practices such as smoking and alcohol consumption, improved maternal mental health, reduced postpartum depression, improved maternal nutritional status, reduction of stress, pain, and anxiety during delivery, and higher rates of breastfeeding and in general has a long-lasting, positive impacts in the development of children  .1,3,5,7 All of these practices are crucial to reduce overall maternal and infant mortality. Some studies have also shown that increased paternal investment in the pregnancy is correlated with increased infant attachment and bonding with their child which is beneficial for child development.6,8,9 Male participation in ANC visits can also provide opportunities for providers to counsel pregnant couples and has been shown to increase likelihood of contraception usage, uptake of HIV testing, and adoption of preventive interventions for vertical and sexual transmissions of HIV.  Since Zika is also sexually transmitted, ANC visits are a key window of opportunity to counsel pregnant couples to promote condom usage.2 Finally, several studies have reported that male presence at ANC visits are correlated with an improvement in couple communication, an increase in joint decision-making, and an impact in identifying and reducing gender-based violence.1,10 While the benefits are well documented, it is also important to understand that male involvement in ANC does not work for every situation. In relationships [...]

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