Challenging sexual and gender-based violence: Overview

The purpose of this module is to broaden the understanding of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and to explore the ways in which it impacts people marginalised because of their gender and sexuality. The module outlines the impact of SGBV on individuals, families and communities, and it offers insight into the ways in which gender and sexual minorities are ‘policed’ through violence. 

  • SGBV refers to all violence that is committed against a person based on their perceived or actual sex and/or gender. It is a gross violation of human rights and is both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality and hegemonic masculinity. 
  • SGBV includes physical, verbal or sexual violence, the victimisation of people because of their masculine or feminine traits or sexual orientation, and any form of violence that stems from unequal power relations. 
  • Violence can also be understood as a structural phenomenon, rather than a form of direct contact. Structural violence includes systemic exclusion from work, education, as well as forms of ‘containment’ such as imprisonment. It is often accompanied by individuals not being recognised as fully human and therefore subject to multiple forms of abuse. 
  • Power relations that define people’s identities – gender, class, race, age, and sexuality – are can be reinforced through interpersonal and/or structural violence. The group or individual with more power uses violence and discrimination in order to uphold their power over the other group or individual. Patriarchal systems and beliefs – namely beliefs in men’s superiority over women – must be challenged in order to reduce SGBV.