By 23, Amanda Banura of Uganda has overcome more than many people do in a lifetime. At a young age, Amanda was raped by her father’s friend.
“The first time, I didn’t know [what was happening],” she said. “This guy came and found me sleeping. He just took off my bedsheet, and started touching me…Then he told me, ‘If you talk, I’m going to beat you up. And if you tell your father, I’ll kill you.’”
As we’ve recently been hearing from so many women around the world, Amanda was a victim of gender-based violence, one of the most pervasive human rights abuses globally that knows no social, economic, or geographical bounds. Worldwide, an estimated one in three of us will experience physical or sexual abuse in our lifetime. Gender-based violence occurs in many forms – including intimate partner or domestic violence, sexual violence, and threat and coercion – and directly impacts our sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Women and girls who experience gender-based violence have had their basic human rights violated and are at increased risk of a myriad of other sexual and reproductive health threats, including unintended pregnancy, unsafe abortion, and sexually transmitted diseases. In some regions, for example, survivors of violence are 50 percent more likely to acquire HIV. Women who face intimate partner or domestic violence are also routinely denied access to contraceptives or essential reproductive health care by these partners, hindering their ability to plan their family, pursue an education, or get a job. Gender-based violence is exacerbated in humanitarian emergencies and conflicts, where violence and rape are used as a tactic of war and displaced women and girls are at increased risk in the midst of chaos. Often, safe spaces and local health clinics run by international organizations such as the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) are the only place of refuge for survivors.