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Sexual and gender based violence

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Sexual and gender based violence

Sexual violence occurs in all societies and in all contexts at any time. Destabilisation of contexts often results in increased levels of violence, including sexual violence. Sexual violence is particularly complex and stigmatising, has long-lasting consequences and can result in important physical and psychological health risks.

MSF medical care for victims of sexual violence covers preventive treatment against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, syphilis and gonorrhoea, and vaccinations for tetanus and hepatitis B. Treatment of physical injuries, psychological support and the prevention and management of unwanted pregnancy are also part of the systematic care. MSF provides a medical certificate to all victims of violence.

Medical care is central to MSF’s response to sexual violence, but stigma and fear may prevent many victims from coming forward. A proactive approach is necessary to raise awareness about the medical consequences of sexual violence and the availability of care. Where MSF sees large numbers of victims – especially in areas of conflict – advocacy action aims to raise awareness among local authorities, as well as the armed forces when they are involved in the assaults. 

sexual violence, Democratic Republic Congo
Democratic Republic of Congo. Marguerite (not her real name) was sleeping at home next to her field when three armed men broke her door and dragged her into the forest. They beat and raped her. Her neighbours who heard the attack came looking for her and found her naked and unconscious body in the forest the following morning. They brought her to Biakato health centre to receive emergency medical and psychological care. 


MSF medically treated 11,100 patients for sexual-violence related injuries in 2015.