Discussing gender based violence: How to prevent and respond to it

By the Gender Equity and Protection Office

Gender-based violence (GBV) refers to any harmful act or behavior that is perpetrated against an individual based on their gender or perceived gender. GBV includes physical, sexual, emotional, and economic abuse, as well as stalking and harassment. This type of violence disproportionately affects women and girls, although men and boys can also be victims.

GBV is a serious human rights violation that has lasting effects on the physical and psychological well-being of survivors. It also has broader social and economic implications, such as hindering gender equality.

Types of Gender Based Violence
Examples of GBV include physical violence, sexual violence, emotional abuse, and economic abuse, among others. GBV can occur in both public and private spaces, and can be perpetrated by intimate partners, family members, acquaintances or strangers etc.

  • Physical violence: This includes any physical harm inflicted on a person by the opposite gender such as hitting, punching, slapping, kicking, or choking. Physical violence may also include the use of weapons or other objects to harm a person.
  • Sexual violence: This includes any unwanted sexual activity or behavior, including rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and forced sexual acts perpetrated against the opposite gender or the same gender.
  • Emotional abuse: This includes any behavior that is designed to control, manipulate, or harm a person's emotions or mental well-being. Examples of emotional abuse may include verbal abuse, insults, threats, gaslighting, isolation, and humiliation.
  • Economic abuse: This includes any behavior that is designed to control a person's financial resources or limit their ability to support themselves financially. Examples of economic abuse may include withholding money, controlling finances, or preventing a person from working.
  • Cultural violence or harmful cultural practices: This includes any behavior or practice that is rooted in cultural beliefs or traditions that perpetuate gender-based violence, such as forced marriages, early marriages or female genital mutilation.
  • Online violence: This includes any behavior that is perpetrated online, such as cyberstalking, harassment, cyber bullying and revenge porn.

Issues of Gender Based Violence

  • Prevalence: Gender-based violence is widespread, affecting individuals of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. It is estimated that one in three women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives.
  • Impact on mental and physical health: Gender-based violence can have serious and long-lasting effects on the mental and physical health of survivors. It can cause physical injuries, chronic pain, and mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Economic consequences: Gender-based violence can also have significant economic consequences, as survivors may be forced to miss work or leave their jobs altogether, resulting in lost income and reduced economic opportunities.
  • Barriers to reporting: Many survivors of gender-based violence face significant barriers to reporting their abuse, including fear of retaliation, shame, and lack of support from friends, family, and the justice system.
  • Root causes: Gender-based violence is often rooted in deeply ingrained societal attitudes and beliefs about gender roles and power dynamics. Addressing these underlying causes is essential to preventing and ending gender-based violence.

How to Address GBV

  • Promote gender equality: GBV is often rooted in unequal power dynamics between men and women. Therefore, promoting gender equality in all spheres of life is crucial to prevent GBV.
  • Raise awareness: Education and awareness-raising campaigns can help people recognize the signs of GBV, understand its harmful effects, and encourage them to speak out against it.
  • Enact and enforce laws: Governments should enact and enforce laws that criminalize GBV, provide protection for survivors, and hold perpetrators accountable.
  • Provide support for survivors: Survivors of GBV need access to a range of support services, including counseling, medical care, legal aid, and shelter.
  • Engage men and boys: Men and boys can play a critical role in preventing GBV by challenging harmful gender norms and behaviors, and becoming allies in the fight for gender equality.
  • Build partnerships: Addressing GBV requires collaboration among various sectors, including government, civil society, and the private sector. Building partnerships can help ensure a comprehensive and coordinated response to the issue.
  • Invest in research and data: Research and data can help us understand the root causes of GBV, identify trends, and develop evidence-based solutions.

Prevention of Gender based violence at home and school
Gender-based violence experienced at home and school is a serious issue that affects many individuals around the world. It is not only exclusively experienced by women and girls but also men and boys. It can be experienced by any gender. It can take many forms, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, and can have long-lasting effects on the victims.

At home, gender-based violence can be perpetrated by family members or intimate partners. This can include physical violence such as hitting or slapping, sexual violence such as rape or forced sexual acts, and emotional abuse such as verbal insults or isolation. Victims may feel trapped or powerless to leave the situation due to financial dependence, fear of retaliation, or lack of support.

At school, gender-based violence can take the form of bullying, harassment, rape or sexual assault. Students may be targeted based on their gender identity, sexual orientation, or perceived gender roles. This can create a hostile learning environment that impacts academic performance and emotional well-being.

It is important to address gender-based violence at both the individual and systemic levels. Education and awareness-raising campaigns can help to change attitudes and promote respect and equality. Support services such as counseling and legal aid can provide resources for victims to seek help and break the cycle of violence. Additionally, laws and policies that criminalize gender-based violence and hold perpetrators accountable can help to create a safer society for everyone.

Scenarios or examples of how Gender Based Violence can come about

  • Physical Violence: A man beats his wife because she burnt his dinner. He punches and kicks her, leaving her with bruises and broken bones.
  • Sexual Violence: A woman is raped by her boss, who threatens to fire her if she tells anyone. The boss takes advantage of her vulnerability and coerces her into having sex with him.
  • Emotional Violence: A man constantly belittles and humiliates his girlfriend, telling her she's worthless and stupid. He isolates her from her friends and family and threatens to hurt her if she leaves him.
  • Economic Violence: A husband /partner/boyfriend controls all the finances in his household, forcing his wife/partner/girlfriend to ask for permission to buy even the most basic necessities. He /she uses money as a way to control and dominate her.
  • Cyber Violence/cyber bullying/cyberstalking: A woman is harassed and threatened online by her ex-boyfriend. He posts intimate photos and videos of her on social media and sends her threatening messages.
  • Discrimination and Stereotyping: A woman is denied a job because of her gender. The employer assumes that she will be less committed to her job because she will eventually get married and have children.
  • Forced Marriage: A teenage girl is forced to marry a man she doesn't love. Her family threatens to disown her if she doesn't comply.
  • Sexual harassment: Persistent unwelcome advances, can also be a one-off engagement or advances. Can consist of saying inappropriate statements, persistently asking for dates when a person has repeatedly declined, using abusing and insulting language, touching or fiddling with a person’s clothes, touch a person inappropriately when they have not consented.

Here are some strategies of preventing and responding to Gender based Violence

  • Education, sensitization and awareness: Education is key to preventing gender-based violence. Establishing and encouraging individuals to participate in programs and projects that educate students on gender equality, healthy relationships, consent, and respect for others. Bringing in Parents and guardians into the fray to encourage sensitization and knowledge building on gender based violence signs and symptoms. This will also encourage parents and guardians to provide consist support in the families and also speak on these matters.
  • Encourage reporting: Victims of gender-based violence should feel safe and encouraged to report any incidents. Schools and families should provide safe spaces for reporting and take all reports seriously.
  • Promote healthy relationships: Teaching and modeling healthy relationships, respect for others, and communication skills is crucial to preventing gender-based violence. Encourage young people to speak openly and honestly about their feelings and to respect each other's boundaries.
  • Create a safe and supportive environment: Create an environment where everyone feels safe and supported. Schools should have policies that prohibit and address gender-based violence, and ensure that those who perpetrate it are held accountable. Encouraging the application of these policies will encourage awareness and response to gender based violence.
  • Address harmful stereotypes and attitudes: Harmful stereotypes and attitudes about gender and gender roles contribute to gender-based violence. Schools and families should work to challenge these attitudes and promote gender Equity and thereby encourage gender equality.
  • Support victims: Victims of gender-based violence should receive the support they need. This includes access to counseling, medical care, and legal support.
  • Involve the community: Preventing gender-based violence is everyone's responsibility. Schools, families, and the wider community should work together to create a safe and supportive environment for everyone. Encouraging a community of practice where people are encouraged to report cases of GBV as way to prevent and respond to it.

Areas to report Gender Based Violence
Gender-based violence can occur in a variety of settings, including private homes, public spaces, workplaces, and institutions. Here are some areas where gender-based violence can be reported:

  • Law enforcement: If you have experienced gender-based violence, you can report it to your local police department or other law enforcement agencies. They can investigate the crime and help you obtain protection orders or other forms of legal relief.
  • Healthcare providers: Healthcare providers can help you with medical care and documentation of injuries resulting from gender-based violence. They can also refer you to local support services and advocacy organizations.
  • Social services: Many social services agencies offer counseling and support services for survivors of gender-based violence. These agencies can also provide resources and referrals for legal assistance, housing, and other needs.
  • Schools and universities: If you experience gender-based violence on a school or university campus, you can report it to campus security or the Gender Equity and Protection Office. These offices can investigate the incident and take steps to protect you and other students.
  • Human resources: If you experience gender-based violence at work, you can report it to your employer's human resources department. They can investigate the incident and take steps to protect you and other employees.
  • Community organizations: There are many community organizations that work to prevent gender-based violence and support survivors. These organizations can provide resources, referrals, and advocacy services.

It's important to remember that reporting gender-based violence can be difficult and scary, and there is no "right" way to do it. It's important to reach out for help and support, and to know that you are not alone.

Should you experience any type of gender based violence including harassment or sexual harassment, kindly report to the Gender Equity and protection Office through:
Gender Office hotline number on: +254 782 539 361
Email: rngumi@usiu.ac.ke / gep@usiu.ac.ke
Visit the office located at the Freida Brown Student Center, First floor on the Academic Advisors Wing next to the Internship Office or Community Service Office.


Social Media