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Our World at 7 Billion: Gender-based Violence
Gender-based violence (GBV) is one of the most widespread, yet least recognized, human rights violations. No matter where she or he is born, the 7 billionth person will live in an environment where violence against women is common—in fact, the World Health Organization estimates that at least 1 in 3 women will experience violence or coercion in her lifetime.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, GBV is often shrouded in silence and stigma. A person’s sexual, reproductive, and emotional health can be profoundly affected by violence, which can also result in unwanted pregnancy, HIV infection, chronic reproductive health problems, or unsafe abortion.
Throughout the region, IPPF/WHR’s Member Associations are working hard to change social behaviors and inequality that fuel GBV. Many use strategies that integrate attention to GBV within existing sexual and reproductive health services, which has been a proven need to reach women with support and counseling.
IPPF/WHR has expanded GBV outreach to some of the most vulnerable populations throughout Haiti, which has high rates of GBV and limited access to health services. In particular, since the 2010-earthquake the incidence of rape and sexual assault has risen dramatically and the need for care is acute.
Some 1.5 million Haitians are still homeless or living in tent cities, where inadequate or nonexistent lighting, open bathrooms, and inadequate police protection have all contributed to greater amounts of sexual violence and exploitation among women and girls. In addition, the destruction has left 750,000 women of reproductive age in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, and 15,000 in the city of Jacmel, with limited access to their usual methods of family planning.
PROFAMIL, the IPPF/WHR Member Association in Haiti, has become a source of hope not only for SRH services, but GBV support as well. PROFAMIL is creating safe spaces for young women that provide information and empower them to access contraception and find psychosocial support. PROFAMIL’s mobile health units and field clinics within large tent cities provide much-needed care to the victims of sexual violence, which includes the distribution of emergency contraception, rape kits, and treatment and care for sexually transmitted infections.
“People need our help. Things would have been lost here during the past year if our clinic hadn’t reopened,” says PROFAMIL medical director Dr. Earnest Desir. “This is why I chose to return to Haiti. I will do this until I die. Thanks to IPPF/WHR and their donors, we continue to be here for these people.”