Barriers to reporting sexual violence

Stop reading for a moment and think of your experience in your community. What inhibits victims from reporting rape?

Reasons for not reporting GBV include:

  • Fear of stigma and discrimination. Someone who has been raped may be seen by others as unclean. She will be blamed for what has happened to her and may experience discrimination.
  • Blame. Society expects girls and women to be able to avoid sexual violence including rape. If any form of sexual violence occurs, society often blames the woman for the way she behaves and dresses, saying that the rape is her fault because she has provoked sexual desires in boys and men.
  • Fear of disbelief. Many girls do not think anyone will believe them, particularly if they have been abused by someone they know. For this reason, many people who have experienced sexual violence, including children, remain silent.
  • Fear of revenge. Many girls and women who are raped are intimidated by their attacker, who threatens that he and his family and friends will cause her further harm if she makes a police report. They may even make death threats.
  • Ineffective policing. Even when young women who have been raped do report the case to the police they may not achieve much. They are not often protected by the police and if the wrong doer is not imprisoned they may be in greater danger than before.
  • Health Professionals' attitudes. People who have experienced sexual violence can recover from the trauma if they find someone who will acknowledge their experience and provide support. One way they could heal is through hearing encouraging words from healthcare providers. However, health professional are not usually understanding and supportive when someone who has been raped seeks care from health facilities. They often tend to be judgemental. This is why many girls who experience GBV will seek practical help for health issues but will not talk about the violence that has caused them to attend at the health facility.

It is important that you as a health professional recognise these effects and offer help. In the next section, you will learn what roles you can play to prevent and manage GBV in your community.

Last modified: Tuesday, 1 July 2014, 2:14 PM