The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that at least one in every five of the world’s female population has been physically or sexually abused at some time (Population Reference Bureau, 2001). Gender-based violence arises from the patriarchal system which since time immemorial has exerted control over women’s lives (World March of Women, 2000). Gender-based violence affects both the physical and psychological integrity of women. However subtle the violence may be in form, it has no less devastating effect. Gender-based violence can affect the female psychologically, cognitively and inter-personally.
The effects of Gender-based violence can be devastating and long lasting. They pose danger to a woman’s reproductive health and can scar a survivor psychologically, cognitively and inter-personally. A woman who experiences domestic violence and lives in an abusive relationship with her partner may be forced to become pregnant or have an abortion against her will, or her partner may knowingly expose her to a sexually transmitted infection. Bitangaro (1999:9) reported what a child psychologist says that “violence absolutely impacts on children…” A child who has undergone or witnessed violence may become withdrawn, anxious or depressed on one hand; on the other hand, the child may become aggressive and exert control over younger siblings.
Boys usually carry out the aggressive form of behavior and as adults, may beat-their spouses. The effects of sexual abuse are the exploitation of power. Young people are especially at risk and this can have lasting consequences for their sexual and productive health. The costs can include unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections (STI), physical injury and trauma. Bitangaro (1999) reported that in Uganda as in many parts of the world, a lot of stigma is attached to a woman who has been raped. The Population Reference Bureau (2000) reported the World Bank as saying that gender-based violence is heavy a health burden for women of ages 15-is as that posed by HIV, tuberculosis and infection during child birth, cancer and heart diseases. The fourth world conference on women has adopted a platform for action, which declares that “violence against women is an obstacle to the achievement of the objective of equality, development and peace” (Population Reference Bureau 2000:3).