Gender violence, a plague of the 21st century still

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Izere Salomon, a first year medical student who was Born on 16th April 1999 and his country of origin is Rwanda, located in central Africa. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

The UN Declaration on the Elimination of violence against women defines violence against women as “Any act of gender based violence that results in, or is likely to result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life” (1, King, Anna. “UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.” The Encyclopedia of women and crime (2019): 1-2.)
Violence against women comprises a wide range of acts – from verbal harassment and other forms of emotional abuse, to daily physical or sexual abuse. At the far end of the spectrum is femicide: the murder of a woman.

In this article I’ll explain Gender based violence (GBV), Femicide, their consequences and the role of medical students and Health practitioners in Advocating and empowering Gender.
Globally, Gender Based Violence (GBV), Particularly Violence against women and intimate partner violence contribute greatly to public health problems and violates the human rights of women Gender-based violence involves men and women with women usually, but not always, being the victim. It stems from unequal power relationships within families, communities and states. Violence is generally directed specifically against women for diverse reasons, and affects them disproportionately. Violence against women and intimate partner violence occurs in all countries, irrespective of social, economic, religious or cultural group.

Article 2 of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) elaborates that violence against women includes sexual, physical, and psychological violence in the:

  1. family such as battering, sexual abuse of children, female genital mutilation/cutting and rape;
  2. community such as sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation, trafficking and forced Prostitution;
  3. state such as poorly drafted or unenforceable laws for violence against women, law enforcement agents who violate women, the lack of facilities and education for prevention and treatment of women exposed to violence, the sanctioning and reinforcement of unequal gender relations.
    Femicide or murder of women is usually perpetrated by men, but sometimes female family members may be involved. Femicide differs from male homicide in specific ways. For example, most cases of femicide are committed by partners or ex-partners, and involve ongoing abuse in the home, threats or intimidation, sexual violence or situations where women have less power or fewer resources than their partner.

According to WHO, understanding and addressing violence against women Femicide is divided into four categories; Intimate femicide committed by current or former husband; Murder in name of honor involve a woman being killed by a male or female family member for an actual or assumed sexual or behavioral transgression, including adultery, sexual intercourse or pregnancy outside marriage or even for being raped. Often the perpetrators see this femicide as a way to protect family reputation which is against human rights. Another form of murder of women linked to cultural practices is related to dowry, it occurs primarily in east Asia, and involves newly married women being killed by in-laws over conflicts related to dowry, such as bringing insufficient dowry to the family; and non-intimate femicide committed by someone without an intimate relationship with the victim.

Medical schools owned by public or private have different departments which are affiliated to teaching and giving medical students different kinds of training. The five-year medical training program at these institutions is Bachelor of medicine, bachelor of surgery curriculum. The first two years focus on pre-clinical content and subsequent three years on the achievement of clinical outcomes. It includes clinical training offered by departments of obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, Medicine, surgery and community medicine. Students are introduced to disciplines through didactic lectures and beside teaching. Students are exposed to lectures, tutorials, field visits relating to public health problems during the community medicine course.

Students gain community and research exposure through the rural placements in their fourth academic year. During the fifth year, many of the previous topics are revisited and addressed in the clinical context. Students are exposed to some training relating to GBV during clinical rotations through these departments in their third, fourth and fifth years of schooling. They are taught some aspects of GBV as part of courses such as social pediatrics, patient communication, cultural factors influencing maternal health, maxillofacial trauma, medical sociology, family health and social determinants of health.
They also receive training from different associations in their school which train them about public health including advocating the public to be aware and fighting against gender-based violence and its consequences.

Violence against women and girls is prevalent worldwide but historically has been overlooked and condoned. Growing international recognition of these violations creates opportunities for elimination, although solutions will not be quick or easy. Governments need to address the political, social, and economic structures that subordinate women, and implement national plans and make budget commitments to invest in actions by multiple sectors to prevent and respond to abuse.


• King, Anna. “UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.” The Encyclopedia of women and crime (2019): 1-2.
• World Health Organization. Understanding and addressing violence against women: femicide. No. WHO/RHR/12.38. World Health Organization, 2012.
• Freeman, M.A., Chinkin, C. and Rudolf, B. eds., 2012. The UN convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women: A commentary. OUP Oxford.
• National Population Commission, 2013. Nigeria demographic and health survey 2013. National Population Commission, ICF International.

About the author

Izere Salomon is a first year medical student who was Born on 16th April 1999 and his country of origin is Rwanda, located in central Africa. He got their Secondary education at ES Gishoma pursuing Advanced diploma Certificate in physics, chemistry and biology. After that he continued my education as a medical student in University of Rwanda college of Medicine and Health Science. Now he is an active member of the Medical Students’ Association of Rwanda (MEDSAR, Rwanda), an affiliated NMO of IFMSA, currently serving as a member of the SCOPH standing Committee.


  1. Thank you so much for your insightful ideas Mr Salomon.
    Proud of you all Rwandans.

  2. No GBV… Let’s stand together to fight against this kind of pandemic

  3. Tunga Christian says:

    Well done Mr Salomon.

  4. Le Robert says:

    Good work Mr Salomon

  5. We all have to stand and fight against this kind of violence, for it is nothing more than dehumanization.

    Keep the work my mate.

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