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What is sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV)?

SGBV refers to all acts inflicted on a person against their will due to their gender, sex or sexual identity. It is sometimes just referred to as ‘gender-based violence’ (GBV).

Statistically, most perpetrators of SGBV are men and boys, and male violence against women takes place in every sphere and strata of society – in forms ranging from rape and physical abuse to harassment and discrimination. While it can happen to anyone, women and girls are far more likely to experience it.

Sexual and gender-based violence deprives women and girls of a life of dignity, which is why ending it is critical. Addressing the root causes of inequality will lead to positive outcomes for both women and men, where all are able to live lives free from violence and abuse.

Our approach to SGBV

Tearfund is committed to progressing gender equality and the restoration of relationships between men and women, boys and girls, and vulnerable adults. We aim to design and support projects which create safe and secure environments for those who are vulnerable.

Our approach is to address the driving factors and social norms that perpetuate inequalities at interpersonal and community levels. We do this by listening to the stories of survivors, facilitating discussions between men and women, engaging men and boys towards gender justice by exploring and transforming their concept of masculinity, and speaking boldly about Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C).

We aim to strengthen peer and community mechanisms for protection and healing, as we believe that community members are the best actors in their own protection. As such, we equip faith leaders to respond to these issues in their communities and to become role models themselves.

Working with survivors

Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is a global epidemic affecting approximately one in three women, according to the World Health Organization, irrespective of social status, ethnicity or age. Often, these women and girls are stigmatised and blamed for the violence perpetrated against them. We seek to bring restoration to their lives by allowing them to share their stories and their needs – and to share their collective experiences with those who have power and authority to effect change. Our goal is to work effectively with faith communities and transform social norms to reduce SGBV. We also aim to shift attitudes towards survivors from stigmatisation to support and care.

See our Working with survivors resources

Changing gender norms: Transforming Masculinities

Tearfund believes women and men are created equal in all things – and therefore we work to see justice for women, men, boys and girls. This means everyone being equally valued and having equal access to resources and opportunities, free from violence and abuse.

To promote gender equality it is vital to transform the harmful gender norms and practices which reinforce and uphold violence against women.

Our Transforming Masculinities approach seeks to shift harmful social norms and behaviours around sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) by working through and within faith communities. This evidence based approach has been rigorously evaluated in multiple contexts and has enabled significant positive results, especially in reductions of rates of intimate partner violence and acceptability within communities.

See our Transforming Masculinities resources

Changing gender norms: Masculinities, Faith and Peace

MFP is an adaptation of Transforming Masculinities, designed for contexts of low inter-religious social cohesion as well as harmful gender norms. Specifically, Tearfund and partners developed MFP in Plateau State, Nigeria, where low inter-religious social cohesion interacts with harmful gender norms which together uphold violence, especially against women in the state. The team also identified that these norms and lack of cohesion was contributing to disrupted health services, limiting women’s ability to enact healthy timing and spacings of their pregnancies which can cause health issues, and increase the risk of mortality, for mothers and their children.

Our team adapted Transforming Masculinities to take account of these challenges, incorporating additional content and activities in the process. The adaptation drew on learnings from the Passages project which had already incorporated a component on healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies.

See our Masculinities, Faith and Peace resources

Female genital mutilation/cutting

The World Health Organization estimates that 200 million women and girls live with the consequences of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in over 30 countries worldwide.

Tearfund’s programmes focus on a partnership between faith leaders and women and girls to bring an end to FGM/C. This includes strengthening the capacity of FGM/C survivors to speak out against FGM/C through awareness-raising and reinforcement of knowledge of FGM/C; leadership development for survivors who lead support groups; referral to services in the community that address survivors’ health needs and mentoring and coaching of key influencers who are themselves survivors.

Faith leaders are engaged through the Transforming Masculinities approach to advocate for an end of harmful social norms that lead to and perpetuate the practice of FGM/C. This is done through a series of community dialogues on faith, tradition and the root causes of FGM/C. Additionally, key survivors and faith leaders undertake advocacy initiatives around FGM/C legislation with policymakers at local and national levels.

Discover our resources on FGM/C  

Tearfund’s humanitarian response to SGBV

Preventing and responding to SGBV is life-saving, and is therefore a vital component of protection in any humanitarian response. Tearfund’s direct response can include:

Cross-cutting themes

Working in partnership to end gender injustice

To end gender injustice in all its forms, it is vital to work in partnership with others. Tearfund is an active member of a number of initiatives and networks. 

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