World Health Organization Issues Report on Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Prevention Strategies
Thursday, September 2, 2010 2:40 PM

The World Health Organization recently released a report, building on early research collected by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the United Kingdom Department of Health, which aims to provide information to policy-makers regarding the most effective actions in preventing intimate partner and sexual violence against women.


The extensive harm caused by this category of violence has been widely acknowledged, and many countries have criminalized such acts and implemented services to abused women. However, there have been relatively few efforts to prevent such violence from occurring in the first place.


The report notes that evidence-based approaches to preventing intimate partner and sexual violence are still in the first stage of development. To date, only one method of prevention claims data supporting its effectiveness: the use of school programs directed toward the prevention of violence in dating relationships.


Evidence is emerging about several other strategies; however, and many more suggestions appear promising based on the fact that they target known risk factors. The report encourages prevention programs to incorporate evaluations of effectiveness from their start in order to continue to expand the knowledge base about potential prevention methods.


For successful prevention of violence, the report calls for early intervention techniques that focus on younger age groups. There is also hope for programs that combine microfinance for women with gender-equality education, efforts to decrease harmful use of alcohol, and changing social and cultural gender norms.


The report stresses that prevention strategies are intended to complement criminal justice-based approaches. In addition, the need for evidence does not preclude the necessity of immediate action.


Compiled from: Preventing Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence against Women: Taking Action and Generating Evidence, World Health Organization, (2 September 2010).