Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is one of the greatest humanitarian challenges today. It takes various forms and occurs in diverse situations and contexts across the world. In conflict-affected states, for example, rape is often used as a strategy of warfare to undermine the enemy and to demoralize and destabilize communities. Acts of SGBV during and in the aftermath of armed conflict and disaster are widespread and have serious impacts on individuals, their families and society as a whole. During these emergencies, the collapse of protection systems, negative reactions to stress and shifting gender and social norms all contribute to increases in SGBV.
SGBV is not only a problem linked to disasters and conflict. Intimate partner violence is one of the most common types of SGBV, with assaults, threats, neglect and rape occurring within homes and other places where people should be safe. Trafficking, early marriages and forced prostitution are also forms of SGBV. Just like other types of SGBV, they are associated with disaster and emergencies but are not directly linked and may occur at any time or in any place.
SGBV leaves deep wounds on survivors, families and communities, as well as on secondary survivors. (Secondary survivors are those who are impacted by the experience of SGBV inflicted upon another person. This may include family members or others close to the survivor). It is a widespread problem with serious emotional and social consequences, delaying recovery and leading to long-term distress, health complications, disability or even death.
In the course of their work, Red Cross and Red Crescent staff and volunteers are often confronted with SGBV. Helpers may even be the first ones to hear a survivor’s story. However staff and volunteers often feel anxious about the appropriate way to handle these disclosures.
To support Red Cross Red Crescent staff and volunteers in their encounters with survivors of SGBV, the PS Centre, in collaboration with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, Jordan National Red Crescent Society and Lebanese Red Cross has developed a two day training. This training is a basic introduction to understanding sexual and gender-based violence in a psychosocial context. It is our hope that this training will provide staff and volunteers with the skills and confidence to better respond to the needs of people affected by SGBV.
The training guide is available online in English. As always, we greatly appreciate any feedback you may have about our materials.