Public Release: 

Tackling sexual violence

N.B. Please note that if you are outside North America the embargo date for all Lancet Press material is 0001 hours UK time Friday 4 October 2002

Lancet

A Health and Human Rights article in this week's issue of THE LANCET highlights the issue of sexual violence-within the context of the World Report on Violence and Health published this week-and calls for health professionals to play a leading role in identifying victims of sexual violence, especially as there is currently no evidence base for interventions to address this public-health issue.

The article, by Rachel Jewkes from South Africa's Medical Research Council, states: '...there is general agreement that sexual violence against women is rooted in gender power inequalities prevalent in society and in hierarchical gender relations. Much sexual violence takes place within families, marriage, and dating relationships, and is made legitimate by ideas of male sexual entitlement. In many settings, rape is a culturally approved strategy to control and discipline women. Prevention of sexual violence must entail efforts at all levels of society to improve women's status.'

Rachel Jewkes comments: "Prevention of sexual violence requires responses that extend well beyond, but clearly encompass, the health sector. Research is urgently needed, but action is necessary in the meantime. Health professionals have a crucial role in ensuring that health services meet the needs of victims and reaffirm victims' autonomy, bodily integrity, and sense of self."

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Additional Contact Information:
Dr Rachel Jewkes, Medical Research Council, Private Bag X385, Pretoria 0001, South Africa;
T) 27-12-339-8525;
F) 27-12-339-8582;
E) rjewkes@mrc.ac.za

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