Sexuality Policy Watch

RHM nº 47: Call for Papers – Gender-based and sexual violence: barriers to sexual and reproductive health and rights

Originally published on:

Reproductive Rights Matters – volume 24   number 47   may/june 2016 

In this issue of the journal, we are hoping to gather a wide diversity of articles on how violence can be conceptualised, comprehended and measured. We want to look at the impact of violence on sexual and reproductive health and rights, and what effective and successful regulatory frameworks and interventions exist to address and prevent violence at all levels, from personal to institutional. This issue is intended to deepen our knowledge about how gender-based and sexual violence is understood and addressed, e.g., by law, policy, in health systems and in local worlds of family, kin and neighbours. It is important to gain insight into the gendered nature of violence and understand its impact on women and girls, men and boys, lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender and intersex people.

Download PDF of the RHM47 Call for papers or read more below

Violence against women and girls

Global data published in 2014 reveal that more than one third of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence; most is committed by an intimate partner.[1] A number of national surveys also report high rates of violence against boys and girls, some revealing that one in four girls experience sexual violence before the age of 18.[2]

Violence against women can manifest in the public sphere, carried out or sanctioned by state or community, as in the case of harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation, mandatory pregnancy testing in the workplace, forced sterilisation, reproductive coercion, early and forced marriage, trafficking, honour killings and virginity testing. There have also been a number of reports of disrespect, abuse and violence against women in health care settings, including during childbirth and provision of abortion services. [3]

In armed conflicts and post-conflict settings, sexual violence has been used as a weapon of war, resulting in significant public health problems, including increased risk of HIV and other STIs, unwanted pregnancies, traumatic fistulae, post-traumatic stress disorder, stigma & social rejection.[4]

Sexual violence against men and boys

Sexual violence against men and boys remains a significantly under-studied subject with the limited data available being partial and very scattered. High levels of sexual violence against boys have been reported in national surveys, ranging from one in 10 boys in Zimbabwe and Tanzania up to one in five boys in Haiti.[5] Sexual violence against men can manifest itself in a variety of forms, from verbal sexual harassment to genital violence and rape, including by external objects; it can result in mental, physical and sexual ill-health, including increased alcohol and substance use, sexual dysfunction, HIV, isolation and emotional trauma.[6] Such violence has been documented in particular in conflict settings. Men as victims of rape or other sexual abuse are seldom recognised in national laws and policies. Many cases go unnoticed and unreported due to lack of legal protection, harmful notions of gender (masculinity), and high level of stigma associated with non-conforming sexualities and men as sexual victims.

Violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender expression

Every year thousands of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender (LGBT) and other individuals with non-conforming gender expressions or sexuality are subject to hate crimes, violence and discrimination. Violence against individuals on the ground of their sexual orientation and gender identity is often made legitimate by homo- or trans-phobic laws and deep-rooted stigma and often goes unnoticed, and perpetuated by impunity. The trans murder monitoring project reports 1,731 murders of trans- and gender-diverse people in 63 countries from 2008 to 2015. Increasing numbers of violent attacks towards lesbians and gays are reported in many countries.  Such gender-based violence is a grave violation of sexual and human rights and has devastating consequences on the sexual and reproductive health of individuals, resulting in a high burden of HIV and STI among LGBT people.

The recent report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) condemns violence and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity. The report also highlights the need to end irreversible and medically unnecessary surgery of intersex minors that aims to force these children into binary sex stereotypes and can be considered a form of gender-based violence.[7]

Despite these international pleas, many countries have laws that criminalise consensual same-sex relationships among adults, punish people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, sometimes with the death penalty, and turn a blind eye or in some cases even promote violence against the LGBT community. There is a paucity of research on the impact of gender-based violence (GBV) and sexual violence (SV) against LGBT and intersex people on their sexual and reproductive health and well-being. Psychosocial care of GBV survivors and effective interventions for prevention of violence against LGBT and intersex persons, in particular among adolescents, are scarce, and models of care are often under-resourced, informal or hidden.

Topics in this issue

We invite papers that provide insights into the intersection of violence and sexual and reproductive health, including HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, contraception, maternal mortality, unwanted or forced pregnancies, safe abortion services and sexual well-being. Papers examining the effectiveness of public and community prevention interventions, as well as the role of health systems in service delivery and management of models of care, are strongly encouraged.  In addition, we welcome conceptual and critical analysis of policies and practices that limit or contravene reproductive rights or examine how denying reproductive health services can be considered forms of (institutional) violence against women. We look forward to receiving qualitative and quantitative studies across disciplines, papers on methodology and models of prevention and care, implementation of interventions, in-depth analysis of laws and policies and justice system, as well as reviews, commentary and opinion pieces.

Examples of topics that can be addressed in this issue are:

  • How can violence be conceptualized, comprehended and measured? How is violence defined and understood: by those exposed to/committing it, by those seeking to address it, by researchers? Is there a need to develop more fine-grained definitions and typologies of violence?
  • What are the reproductive health and rights consequences for people who have experienced sexual or gender-based violence?
  • To what extent do national and international macro-economic policies or laws and commitments foster or challenge state-level sexual and gender-based violence?
  • What is the role of stigma, and conversely community acceptance of violence, in reporting/under-reporting of GBV and in uptake of support services?
  • What is the role of religions in condemning and tackling, or perpetrating and facilitating gender-based and sexual violence? What is the impact of religious fundamentalism on global policy and at the level of implementation?
  • What is the role of the United Nations in driving a meaningful change for people on the ground?
  • What is the role of health care in GBV care and prevention?
  • How is institutional violence or reproductive violence manifested through restrictive and punitive laws and policies that limit access to safe and legal sexual and reproductive health?
  • What approaches to reducing violence from the national, state or local levels are proving effective? In what ways do local-level actors and agencies (kin, friends, neighbours, grassroots organisations) offer care and support for people who experience sexual/gender-based violence and what is the social impact of such informal support?

We welcome submissions from academia, activists, practitioners and policy makers. Original research articles across disciplines, including social and behavioural sciences, political sciences, anthropology, psychology, law, health systems and implementation research, are welcome. Commentaries, opinion pieces, articles addressing methodological and conceptual issues and case studies of interventions, as well as photo or video reports with an analytical/evaluation component, will also be considered. Please note that studies only presenting prevalence rates without adequate qualitative and analytical component will not be considered for publication.

download pdf of the rhm47 call for papers


Submit your paper at from 1 October to 31 Nov 2015.

Please read submission guidelines before you start writing and again before you submit!!

[1] World Health Organization. Global and regional estimates of violence against women: prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence. 2013. Geneva, Switzerland.

[2] Centers for Disease Control. Towards a violence-free generation, accessed 17 July 2015

[3] d’Oliveira, Diniz, Schraiber. Violence against women in health-care institutions: an emerging problem.Lancet 2002; 359: 1681-85

[4] Spangaro et al. Mechanisms underpinning interventions to reduce sexual violence in armed conflict: A realist-informed systematic review. Conflict and Health. 2015

[5] Centers for Disease Control. Towards a violence-free generation, accessed 17 July 2015

[6] Slegh et al. Gender relations, sexual violence and the effects of conflict on women and men in North Kivu, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo: preliminary results of the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES). Sonke Gender Justice Network / Promundo, 2012.

[7] Romero et al. Advancing adolescent capacity to consent to transgender-related health care in Colombia and the USA. Reproductive Health Matters. 2013:21(41)


Please note that RHM has moved to online-only publication. We have also introduced open-choice, allowing authors to decide whether to publish their articles open access.

Please share this with anyone who may be interested in submitting a paper.


All submissions are now online here

You can find the RHM author and submission guidelines here

Read them before you start writing and again before you submit!!


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