Gender-based violence and women’s health – 03/27/2024 – Balance and Health

Gender-based violence and women’s health – 03/27/2024 – Balance and Health


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Amidst so many reports of sexual and gender-based violence in the news, I write about the effects that these cases have on female mental health.

First, a warning: The text contains information about sexual violence and rape, which may be triggering for some people.

1 in 3 women suffer violence in world

You may be wondering what the topic of violence against women has to do with a health newsletter, which covers topics about how to live better. The effects on women’s physical and mental health explain why we should talk about it.

The data comes from the most recent report from the WHO (World Health Organization), dated March 25.

The health consequences of sexual and physical violence include physical, mental, sexual and reproductive harm that can be both short and long term. Bodily injuries, femicide and suicide are the best-known short-term effects, but they can also lead to mental harm, such as depression, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, sleeping disorders, eating disorders.

Another point highlighted by the WHO is that sexual and physical violence can also affect female reproductive health, leading to a greater occurrence of unwanted pregnancies, spontaneous abortions, premature births, child malnutrition and sexually transmitted infections (such as HIV) that can be passed on to babies.

Damage to physical and mental health

A study published in the journal The Lancet Regional Health shows that 22 physical and mental conditions associated with sexual or physical violence were identified. The risk of developing a mental or behavioral health problem was 112% to 237% higher compared to women who were not victims.

There was also an elevated risk (46% to 83% higher) of developing metabolic, hematological (blood) and respiratory diseases among women who had suffered sexual abuse.

There is also a greater risk of developing symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress syndrome in victims of sexual violence, according to a study of university students in the United States.

In addition to anxiety, difficulty sleeping and concentrating, the disorder can also manifest itself as constant fear, difficulty relating to other people, loneliness, self-destructive behavior and even self-mutilation.

A survey of 236 women who suffered sexual abuse in Israel by a partner or ex-partner found that they were more likely to have a negative relationship with their own sexuality after the event. Furthermore, they had a decrease in sexual motivation throughout their lives, depression and low self-esteem after the violent event.

10 actions to combat violence against women

The United Nations for Women (UN Women) lists ten actions aimed at combating violence against women and gender-based violence.

Are they:

  1. To listen a woman when she tells her story. It is the first step to stopping the cycle of abuse; Therefore, believing the woman’s word is fundamental;

  2. Teaching (and learning) with the youngest about respect for others, privacy and human and gender rights are important steps to end sexual and gender-based violence;

  3. Ask for help from services and organizations specialized in victim assistance. They are essential to guarantee a safe space for all people who have suffered sexual or physical abuse;

  4. Understand consent. Anything that is not consented to, whether before, during or after the sexual act, is considered abuse;

  5. Learn the signs of abuse and how to help a vulnerable person;

  6. Talk about abuse and sexual violencesince silence favors the permanence of the problem;

  7. Taking a stand against ‘rape culture’;

  8. Support women’s organizations: donations to groups, collectives and other organizations aimed at combating sexual and gender-based violence;

  9. Make everyone socially responsible: violence can manifest itself in different ways and in different public spaces, it is important to take a stand against inappropriate sexual comments, whistles and unacceptable sexist jokes;

  10. Know the numbers of domestic and sexual violence and ask governments and public bodies for more action.

As part of the Todas initiative, the Sheet gifts women with three months of free digital subscription


News and studies on health and science

  • Depression increases risk of heart disease in women. Research published in the Journal of the American Cardiology College: Asia found an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease in women with depression compared to men with the same diagnosis.

  • Covid vaccines did not increase stroke risk. According to a study of more than 11,000 American veterans covered by Medicare, the government-funded health plan, the bivalent Covid vaccine was not associated with an increased risk of stroke. Recurrent Covid infection and worsening of the condition, both factors that can be prevented by immunization, can increase the occurrence of strokes. The research was published in the journal Jama.

  • Humans pass more viruses to animals than vice versa. A study conducted by researchers at University College London, England, found that the amount of viruses that humans pass on to farmed and wild animals is greater than the animal pathogens that can infect us. The research, published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, sheds light on the study of zoonoses, the name given to diseases transmitted by animals, and has the potential to prevent outbreaks and infections.


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