Rape and Sexual Violence: MSF's response

Working in emergency or semi-emergency settings where there may not be even basic health care, let alone a private space for treatment and counselling, only adds to these. But we have a responsibility to provide care. MSF is striving to provide comprehensive and quality care to victims of sexual violence in confidential settings. We treat the victims' wounds, offer emergency contraception and provide treatment for the prevention of sexually transmittable diseases. This includes HIV, for which we administer antiretroviral drugs to prevent post-rape infections. These drugs are effective only when taken within 72 hours after of the rape, one reason why immediate medical assistance is so vital. Given the fact that sexual violence is often a taboo, it is as important to have education activities in place to raise awareness about the issue and the fact that medical treatment is available. In some projects, MSF also organizes the psychosocial counselling. Here, women are enabled to talk about - often for the first time - what they endured. They share their beliefs and receive acknowledgement for their suffering. The objective of the psychosocial interventions is to reinforce or restore coping mechanisms and self-control.