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Sexual violence

Photo credit © UN/DPI Photo Library


Sexual violence is a profound human rights violation which has the potential to impact severely on the mental and physical health of survivors, both in the short term and over time. It is an epidemic fuelled by gender inequality and remains one of the least researched and understood forms of gender-based violence.

Research is critical in assisting researchers, policy-makers and programme managers to strengthen existing intervention and prevention programmes for sexual violence and to develop new, more effective responses.

What the Global Forum does

Since its earliest meeting in 1997, the Global Forum for Health Research has discussed violence against women and more specifically sexual violence, reflecting concern both with the severe health risks consequent to such violence and the violations of human rights.

The Global Forum recommended that a consultation be organized to bring together relevant partners to discuss the problem and plan for future action. In collaboration with the World Health Organization and with financial support from the World Bank through its contribution to the Global Forum for Health Research, the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) was formally established in 2004 and, since 2006, has been operated at the Medical Research Council in South Africa.

The SVRI contributes to eliminating sexual violence by simultaneously addressing the lack of research on the different aspects of sexual violence as well as drawing the attention of a wide range of people, including policy-makers and the media, to this important public health and human rights issue.