A culture of silence surrounds the survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in Hiran province. Stigma and the fear of reprisal by the perpetrator keeps many survivors from reporting their cases, depriving the women and children primarily affected from getting the medical care and counseling they need.
Relief International, with funding from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), began a yearlong program in the Maxaas district of Hiran in September to protect SGBV survivors. RI studied ways the community could prevent violence and treat survivors.
RI found that limited services and a general lack of awareness about gender-based violence deter survivors from reporting. Why report, many think, when the most likely outcome is that they will be shamed and shunned?
Since the launch, 40 health care workers have attended training programs on protection, counseling and the proper clinical management of rape (CMR). Doctors and nurses now know to refer the survivors they encounter to the appropriate hospitalization, counseling and protection services.
Community workshops also are being conducted to help change attitudes toward survivors of rape and gender-based violence. With time, Relief International hopes to reduce the cultural taboo of being a survivor and to increase the cultural consequences for the perpetrators.