Sexual violence occurs in all societies and in all contexts at any time. Destabilisation often results in increased levels of violence, including sexual violence. Sexual violence is particularly complex and stigmatising, has long-lasting consequences, and can result in important physical and psychological health risks.
MSF medical care for victims of sexual violence covers preventive treatment against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, syphilis and gonorrhoea, and vaccinations for tetanus and hepatitis B. Treatment of physical injuries, psychological support and the prevention and management of unwanted pregnancy are also part of systematic care. MSF provides a medical certificate to all victims of violence.
Medical care is central to MSF’s response to sexual violence, but stigma and fear may prevent many victims from coming forward. A proactive approach is necessary to raise awareness about the medical consequences of sexual violence and the availability of care. Where MSF sees large numbers of victims – especially in areas of conflict – advocacy aims to raise awareness among local authorities, as well as the armed forces when they are involved in the assaults.
MSF provided medical care to 28,800 victims of sexual violence in 2019.