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Gender-based violence

Adolescents Disabilities/Mental Health Disabilities/physical Empowerment & Participation English Espanol Francais Gender relations Health Workers HIV Prevention Men & Boys Motherhood Sex Workers Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights Women and Girls Worldwide

Gender-based violence*

The links between gender-based violence and HIV are now clearly recognised. However there is still much to be done at programmatic level to act on these links in practice.

* A note on language. One of the issues that Stepping Stones addresses is how we can use positive language and concepts to change the way we think and act in the world. To read more about this see here.

The evidence

Violence –> HIV. WHO have described how “women who had been physically or sexually abused were 1.5 times more likely to have a sexually transmitted infection and, in some regions, HIV, compared to women who had not experienced partner violence.” (WHO factsheet November 2016) (WHO infographic)

HIV –> Violence. Meanwhile, research conducted for WHO by Salamander Trust and partners found that women who have been diagnosed with HIV can also either experience more intimate partner violence or this can start after diagnosis. Women can also experience gender-based violence from wider family members, community, workplace and health care settings after diagnosis (JIAS). “Women described a complex and iterative relationship between GBV and HIV occurring throughout their lives, including breaches of confidentiality and lack of SRH choice in healthcare settings, forced/coerced treatments, HR abuses, moralistic and judgemental attitudes (including towards women from key populations), and fear of losing child custody.”
Read more about this research and other related articles here.

How can Stepping Stones help?

The original manual, Stepping Stones, sought to reduce conflicts within relationships and promoted mutual understanding and cooperation. We have widespread reports from many Stepping Stones workshop contexts around the world, from both female and male participants, of gender-based violence reducing in their communities afterwards. Stepping Stones & Stepping Stones Plus, our wholly revised and updated edition, also contains exercises which are specifically intended to reduce violence against women.

The randomised control trial of the South African adaptation of Stepping Stones also demonstrated a reduction in gender-based violence.

Further resources

Two websites include Stepping Stones as an example of a community-based programme that reduces gender-based violence

  • WHO & UNAIDS 2013. 16 Ideas for addressing violence against women in the context of the HIV epidemic: a programming tool
  • The “What Works for Women” website rates Stepping Stones as Gray II as a community-based programme which reduces gender-based violence


See also the webpage on gender and power relations