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Gender Based Violence - a public health issue!

8 May 2014
Gender based violence is a major public health issue - a reproductive and sexual health concern: nevertheless the role of the health care systems in many countries, including India remains minimal.
Sama, an organisation part of PHM India and part of the PHM Gender Health Justice Campiagn, has been actively engaged in strengthening recognition of gender based violence as a health issue and also towards strengthening health care response to GBV - particularly on sexual violence and domestic violence (intimate partner violence as well by other family members). While understanding and intervention in this regard continues to be nascent and necessitates strengthening and widening, some initiatives  by organisations in different parts of the country have been ongoing for many years.
Following decades of struggles and campaigns, amendments were made to the Law that substantially broadened the understanding and definition of "rape" legally in India in 2013. The public action, mobilization and demands, following the violent incident and sexual assault in Delhi in December 2012, also reinforced and visibilized the vast gaps and needs with regard to response to survivors of gender based violence (GBV) by diverse state institutions and non-state actors. The subsequent period witnessed efforts by the central government as well as by some of the states, including in the context of the health care system. 
One such is the "Guidelines and Protocols: Medico-legal care for survivors / victims of sexual violence" which was released by the central Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India, which was developed by a committee  comprising state and non state organisations, legal and other experts, formed for this purpose.
This is an important first step towards uniform protocols in responding to sexual violence. The protocols have also included guidelines for special groups (sex workers, transpersons, adolescents, etc.) and also in responding to children. 
Please do write to us if you would like to look at the protocols. We also request all of you to share, if possible, any guidelines or protocols that are being followed in your country / region and also about the role of the health care system in responding to GBV. 
This will facilitate a better / nuanced understanding of existing perspectives and actions in this regard.
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