Family Planning in GENDER BASED VIOLENCE
Gender Based Violence (GBV) according to the UNFPA Gender Theme Book 1998, can be defined as “violence involving men and women, in which the female is usually the victim; and which is derived from unequal power relationships between men and women. Violence is directed specifically against a woman, because she is a woman, or affects women disproportionately.
The United Nations declarations on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (1993) states that violence against women means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty whether occurring in public or private life.
In the context Sexual and Reproductive Health, GBV has been linked to an increased risk of unintended pregnancies, pregnancy complications, gynecological disorders, abortions, miscarriages and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), including HIV and AIDS. Fear of violence has also been seen to hinder women’s ability to seek and access treatment and care. Women who experience intimate partner violence have difficulty using family planning effectively as they are more likely to use contraceptive methods in secret or be stopped by their abusive partner from using family planning. Abuse during pregnancy also poses immediate risks to the mother and unborn child, and also increasing chronic problems such as depression, substance abuse, bleeding, lack of access to prenatal care, or poor maternal weight gain.
Many girls, especially in developed countries face the challenge of child marriage (i.e. being given away to an older man) since the parents would have been in mutual and monetary agreement with him. Such cases, among other types of GBV limit a woman’s ability to negotiate the use of condoms or other contraception, thereby increasing her risk of unintended pregnancies and STIs. A local institution dealing with adolescents in Zimbabwe has accredited the marked increase in teenage pregnancies to child marriage.
Other examples of GBV include, rape, wife abuse, sexual abuse of children, trafficking in women and girls in most cases for the purposes of sexual exploitation, forced prostitution, unwanted touching, trickery and pressure which may lead to unintended sex, harmful cultural practices and traditions that irreparably damage girls’ and women’s reproductive and sexual health for example female genital mutilation, breast ironing, giving a girl/ woman away to appease spirits.
The ZNFPC Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health strategy of 2010-15 sets to provide gender sensitive youth friendly services by ensuring that gender issues are addressed in its outreach and social mobilisation exercises.
Health care providers like nurses, peer educators and youth health advisors need to be continuously trained to identify cases of GBV so that they can treat them professionally and friendly. As estimated by the IPPF, health professionals can help to change societal attitudes about violence against women because they can reframe violence as a health problem instead of just a social custom or private family problem.
16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence are commemorated from 25 November to 10 December. 25 November marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. This year’s campaign marks the third year of advocacy on the intersections of gender based violence and militarism. The theme runs as, “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women.”
(Picture is of Awake Zimbabwe)