Forms of Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV)
Trigger and Content Warning: This page contains mentions of specific forms of sexual and gender-based violence. The intent behind placing this information here is to educate readers on various forms of SGBV. Please exercise discretion while perusing this page and please exit if you feel triggered by any of the content here.
Acid Attacks: An Acid Attack is the act of throwing acid or a similarly corrosive substance onto the body of another with the goal of disfiguring, impairing, maiming, torturing, injuring or killing. When acid is thrown at people, usually at their faces, it winds up burning them and damaging skin tissue, often exposing and sometimes dissolving their bones. The long term consequences of these attacks may include blindness, as well as permanent scarring of the face and body, along with far-reaching social, psychological, and economic difficulties. Acid attacks are a form of violent assault, and are a human rights violation. Acid attacks can also have disparaging impacts on the mental and psychological health of the individuals who have faced it. They may suffer from anxiety, depression, psychological distress that may also extend to distress and discomfort about their appearance, social exclusion and tremendous amounts of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Breast Ironing: Breast ironing refers to the pounding and massaging of a pubescent girl's breasts with the use of hard or heated objects in order to either prevent the breasts from developing, or to make them disappear. Breasts are "ironed" using anything from wooden pestles and leaves, to bananas and coconut shells, grinding stones, ladles, spatulae and even hammers heated in coals. Breast ironing is disparaging and damaging and can cause tissue damage, pain, cysts and even breast cancer, and can affect the mental health of tthe girls themselves. Abscess formation can also result from it. In most instances, they are carried out by the mother of the girl or female relatives in her extended or immediate family under the pretext that she is trying to protect the girl from sexual harassment, rape and prevent early pregnancies lest it tarnish the family name, or, even to allow the girl to pursue education instead of being forced into early / child marriage. The practice is generally seen taking place in Cameroon - where the generic perception is that girls whose breasts have developed or who show developing breasts are ready for sex. There are also reports that suggest that the practice has spread beyond Cameroon to its diaspora. Instances are also reported across Western and Central Africa, in countries like Benin, Chad, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea-Conakry, Kenya, Togo and Zimbabwe, as well as in South Africa (where it has been called Breast Sweeping).
Child Sexual Abuse: An act performed by an adult or an older person that uses a child for sexual stimulation or gratification is called child sexual abuse (CSA). It is a form of molestation and more often than not, the child may not even realize what is happening to him/her. Child sexual abuse can be perpetrated in different ways apart from the act of sexually touching/indulging with a child. This includes (and is not limited to) showing a child pornographic content or nudity, making them undress against their wishes when not required, exposing genitals in front of them or forcing them to see someone undress or using a child for pornography. The consequences of such an act of molestation on a child is multifold. The child goes into a shell and stops communicating with others properly, or may go into depression or may experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In some cases, the perpetrator of such an act of sexual abuse is a person the child knows personally. This could either mean a family member or a close family friend. In such cases, the adverse effects on the child is much worse since they may have to keep interacting with the perpetrator often. The long-term effects of CSA on a child can be highly traumatizing, especially if the child does not open up about it to safe adults and suffers in silence. In a lot of cases, the abusers blackmail the children into silence such that their identity is not revealed and continue to abuse the child for gratifying their own needs.
Conflict-related Sexual and Gender-based Violence: In conflicts within countries, and with other countries, civilians are often caught in the crossfire and one of the most damaging impacts on civilians is the threat of sexual violence. Building on the definition put forth by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, sexual and gender-based violence in conflict includes rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, sexual mutilation and sexual torture. It can be sexual violence, it can be gender-based violence, it can be gender neutral and it can be sexualized violence, too. Conflict-related sexual violence is accompanied by either force or a threat to force against the victim or a third party and is done without or against the consent of the victim.
Domestic Violence: Domestic Violence refers to any form of violence that transpires within a domestic setting, It is not necessary that it must take place within a household – the term is wide enough to encompass violence meted out within a family. It manifests in many forms. It can be psychological, social, financial, physical or sexual. -Psychological violence can include blackmail, coercion or inducement of fear. -Social violence can include public humiliation, isolation and confinement against one’s will. -Physical abuse includes beating, hitting, pushing – or any physical assault or battery. -Sexual violence can range from rape and harassment to harming sexual organs. In some communities, Domestic Violence can take the form of honour killings, dowry harassment and even acid attacks.
Female Foeticide and Infanticide: Foeticide is an act that causes the death of a foetus. Infanticide is the intentional killing of infants. Female foeticide is a form of sex-selective abortion, where the pregnancy is terminated depending on the sex of the foetus. In many communities, following the determination of the sex of the baby as female, the pregnancy is either voluntarily or forcibly terminated through an abortion procedure. As a result, many countries banned the process of sex-determination of the foetus. Female infanticide occurs where the baby, upon its birth and the discovery of its birth sex as female, is killed, or exposed to factors that lead to its death.
Female Genital Mutilation: According to the WHO, female genital mutilation includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is important to the note that this process has no health or medical benefits. Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth increased risk of newborn deaths. Female genital mutilation is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. The practice violates a person's rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.
Honour Killing: An honour killing is the homicide of a member of a family or social group by other members, due to the belief of the perpetrators that the victim has brought dishonor or shame upon the family or community. It is effectively considered to be "shame killing." Most countries look at it as a homicide from a legal point of view. The crime comprises the homicide of a family member because they have brought "shame" or "dishonour" to the family by their conduct, or has violated certain principles of their community or religion, such as refusing to enter an arranged marriage, or being in a disapproved / forbidden relationship, or having sex outside marriage, or being a victim of rape, or even dressing in ways which are deemed inappropriate, and in some instances, even engaging in non-heterosexual relations or renouncing a faith. Generally, honour killings are collectivein the way they are carried out. Members of the nuclear or extended family act together, in planning and executing the act. In some instances, this is done through a "family council." Most honour killings are connected to the behaviour of the individual - and often centres around sexuality, marriage or refusal to marry. The key factor is that the conduct of the individual is seen as a shame / dishonour / insult to the honour of the family, and the stigma associated with losing the honour - this is especially so in communities that are tight knit, or place a premium on honour. As a result, the perpetrators themselves do not face any stigma for what they do - because their behaviour is perceived as justified, and even given respect as it is seen as standing up for honour.
Marital Rape: Marital rape, is non-consensual sex in which the perpetrator is the victim’s spouse. It is a form of partner rape, of domestic violence, and of sexual abuse. Marriage is a social contract, a formal union between two individuals. Across cultures, it is not uncommon to associate marriage with legitimate sexual rights. In other words, being married people assume, it gives legitimacy to sexual relations within the marriage. However, marriage is not synonymous with consent. A woman/man (every individual) has absolute right over her/his body even after marriage. It is important to recognise this right and understand that an individual even after marriage has every right to say No and for that right to be expected.
Rape: Rape is a type of sexual assault that usually involves sexual intercourse, forced upon an individual without their consent. It may be carried out through physical force, threat, coercion, or with someone who is a minors, drugged, incapacitated or unconscious individuals. Many a times people suffer from post traumatic stress disorder after being raped. Different types of rape include date rape, gang rape, marital rape, incestuous rape, child sexual abuse, prison rape, acquaintance rape, war rape and statutory rape. Here, the word consent becomes important because it becomes rape only when the other person does not want it or does not give consent for the sexual intercourse to happen.
Sexual Assault and Sexual Violence: Sexual assault is conduct that creates an apprehension in the victim’s mind, that she is about to be attacked sexually. Sexual violence refers to any sexual acts and attempts of sexual acts, unwanted sexual comments or advances against a person’s sexuality using coercion. There are multiple forms of sexual violence. They include rape – irrespective of whether by strangers, partners, or on large scales like in armed conflict; unwanted sexual advances, sexual harassment, demanding sexual favours in return for other favours; sexual abuse of any kind; forced marriage; denying the right to use contraception or measures to protect against sexually transmitted diseases; forced abortions; genital mutilation; acts against sexual integrity; forced virginity tests and prostitution and trafficking for sexual exploitation.
Street Harassment: Street harassment is any action or comment between strangers in public places that is disrespectful, unwelcome, threatening and/or harassing and is motivated by gender or sexual orientation. In countries like India and Bangladesh, it’s termed “eve teasing,” and in countries like Egypt, it’s called “public sexual harassment.”Street harassment is a human rights issue because it limits one's ability to be in public often and as comfortably.
Violence Targeting a Person's Sexual Orientation: Individuals identifying across the SOGIESC spectrum - sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and sex characteristics, as well as the SPGP spectrum - sexual practice and gender performance - can and do face violence that is motivated by hateful attitudes towards their sexuality or gender identity. It may be violence by individuals or groups who engage in hate-based crimes against them for their identity or sexual orientation. They may also face the challenge of laws that criminalize and punish them for their identity or sexual orientation, and hence cannot find much legal support to address this violence. Violence against individuals due to their sexual orientation or perceived sexuality can be physical violence (sexual violence, gender-based violence or sexualized violence) or psychological violence. These actions may be motivated by homophobia, or by cultural notions, religious ideologies, political biases and even social biases. Social, cultural and religious motivations to target people with violence due to their perceived sexual orientation stems from notions of associating sexual orientations that are not heterosexuality with weakness, illness or immorality.
Workplace Sexual Harassment: Workplace Sexual harassment implies sexual advances, intimidation, bullying, coercion or inappropriate behaviour of a sexual nature, and unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favours. It can manifest in the form of verbal or physical harassment. “Workplace” implies both, a place of work, and extends to include a work relationship. There are two kinds: quid pro quo, which is a demand for sexual favours in return for a reward, and hostile environment, which refers to plain sexual harassment. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that tends to create a hostile or offensive work environment. Sexual harassment at work often creates an intimidating and hostile environment and interferes with an employee’s work performance. When submission to sexual advances of any kind, explicitly or implicitly come to dictate an employee’s working terms and employment in itself, it amounts to sexual harassment. This is also known as Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment. When rejection to any sexual advances on an employee’s part results in termination of his employment or result in a biased employment decisions such as promotion, termination and such, it amounts to sexual harassment. This also results into Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment.