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Gender-Based Violence; Exploring Theories Connected to GBV and Strategies To Mitigate the Challenge

Executive Summary

This paper provides an overview of gender-based violence (GBV) and the need to address it. GBV refers to harmful acts perpetrated against individuals based on gender, including sexual, physical, economic, and mental harm. The consequences of GBV extend beyond gender inequality, hindering progress toward poverty reduction and achieving global goals. The background section highlights the widespread nature of GBV, with shocking statistics indicating the prevalence of violence against women worldwide. Challenges such as underreporting, stigma, and ethical considerations make obtaining accurate data and developing practical solutions difficult. The literature review explores critical concepts related to GBV, including survivorship, gender, perpetrators, disclosure, domestic violence, confidentiality, consent, sexual exploitation, and female genital mutilation (FGM). The importance of adopting survivor-centric language and understanding the social constructs of gender are emphasized. The text also introduces three public administration theories that can enhance understanding of GBV. Feminist theory focuses on power structures, norms, and inequalities, emphasizing intersectionality, patriarchy, and gender as a social construct. The social-ecological model considers multiple levels of influence, including individuals, relationships, communities, and society, to address GBV comprehensively. Public choice theory examines decision-making processes within public administration and their impact on policies and outcomes related to


Over the years, Gender-based violence (GBV) has been a global challenge declared by UNICEF as ‘the most pervasive yet the least visible human rights violation across the world.’ GBV are all harmful acts perpetrated against people’s willingness based on gender differences between males and females. As such, GBV is evidenced by sexual, physical, economic, and mental harm enforced on persons, particularly women and girls, and is characterized by FGM, controlling behaviors, psychological abuse, and sexual harassment (Okunola, 2021). This challenge not only ignores women’s and girls’ gender equality but also encourages gender inequality and critically drags back to achieving the UN’s global goals of the fight towards poverty reduction. Therefore, GBV should not be ignored but addressed by all means possible, as its results have far-reaching consequences. To resolve this issue, this work is organized into five segments: leader outline, introduction, background, literature review, analysis, and discussion.


Gender-based violence has been marked as a worldwide plague, with disastrous ramifications for survivors, their families, and the local area. Shocking statistics on the issue have been addressed, revealing how GBV gas has been deeply rooted across diverse regions worldwide. World Bank reports that 1 in every three women worldwide has been affected by GBV (World Bank Group, 2023). Other statistics indicate that:

  • Approximately 35% of women worldwide have undergone intimate sexual and physical violence or non-partner sexual violence.
  • Over the world, about 7% of women have been sexually manipulated by people other than their partners.
  • More than 200 million women worldwide have been subjected to female genital mutilation.
  • Over the world, more than 38% of women’s murders have been performed by their intimate partners.

From these statistics, it is undoubtedly that failing to address the GBV issue could result in massive consequences in the future. Numerous scholars have preceded that children raised in backgrounds characterized by GBV will likely end up as survivors of the issue or the perpetrators of this violence. However, some potential challenges and controversies include underreporting, stigma, and ethical considerations. For instance, the victims may be concerned about revenge, societal shame, or a lack of trust in the legal system (World Bank Group, 2023). This instance makes reliable data collecting difficult, making it challenging to identify the full scope of the problem and devise effective remedies.

Literature review

Concepts in Gender-based Violence.

Some of the relevant concepts in GBV include:


A “survivor” of GBV has encountered brutality or maltreatment because of their gender orientation and has figured out how to defeat the negative ramifications of that experience. People who have been survivors of GBV are applauded for their boldness and versatility, their capacity to mend, recuperate, and their ability to heal (Sexual and gender-based violence, 2023). The term “survivor” instead of “victim” demonstrates a crucial change in vocabulary and mentality. It features that victims of GBV are distinguished by their victimization and as dynamic members in their own mending and recovery processes. It features their boldness, persistence, and capacity to recreate their lives following obliterating circumstances.


Gender refers to the socially built jobs, ways of behaving, assumptions, and personalities that individuals are relegated to in light of their gender. While sex alludes to the natural and actual qualities that recognize males and females, gender is a more mind-boggling idea that includes the social, social, and mental parts of being male or female (Crossman, 2020). Not entirely set in stone by socialization, social standards, and cultural assumptions, not by one’s natural sex. It alludes to the obligations, activities, and qualities respected, legitimate, or expected of people in a specific culture or group. Gender norms vary between cultures and communities, and they evolve through time.


In the context of GBV, “perpetrator” refers to the people, groups, or institutions that directly support or inflict violence against other people against their will.


Disclosure refers to the awareness or the discovery of a gender-based violence incident. In most cases, the survivors or victims of gender-based violence opt not to disclose GBV nor seek the necessary assistance.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is characterized as physical, sexual, mental, profound, verbal, monetary, or managerial antagonism in the family or domestic unit. Violence against a spouse, partner, prior partner, relative, or other comparable relationship in which the parties are or have been living together is covered. Regardless of how the expressions are generally utilized reciprocally, “domestic violence” encompasses more than “intimate partner violence,” which is restricted to spouses, partners, and prior partners. Domestic abuse can also incorporate “coercive control,” which alludes to managing an individual’s conduct, segregating an individual, or attacking their security by keeping a close eye on them, talking, acting, or constraining a particular actual style on them (Perrin et al., 2019).


Confidentiality is one of the ethical standards in GBV, where casualties or survivors are guaranteed that their characters and the data they have provided will not ever be uncovered with anybody or substance other than individuals to whom the data is expected (Muluneh et al., 2020). As an outcome, data concerning casualties, witnesses, and different investors are gathered, kept, and partook in a protected way.


In the context of GBV, consent refers to approval or acceptance after thoughtful consideration. In informed consent, the survivor of a GBV situation fully apprehends the consequences of support and agrees freely, without using force.

Sexual Exploitation

Sexual exploitation is the attempted or actual act of abusing vulnerability, trust, power, or any other privilege for sexual purposes. These acts are not limited to financial gains or political or social success from the sexual exploitation of other people (Perrin et al., 2019). Accordingly, sexual exploitation can take various structures, for example, constrained prostitution, sex dealing, and constrained relationships without the willing arrangement of the people addressed.


FGM is the incomplete or complete evacuation of outside female genitalia or various kinds of injury to the female genital organs for non-clinical reasons. It is also known as female genital cutting or female circumcision. It is a destructive practice mainly targeting girls and women, frequently before puberty and without their permission.

Public administration theories and the principles of these theories can enhance understanding of GBV.

Feminist Theory

The feminist theory, the social-ecological model, and the public decision theory are some thoughts that can improve how we might interpret GBV. Feminist theory gives a primary focal point to dissect GBV by examining power structures, standard practices, and imbalances. By doing so, the feminist theory illuminates the social challenges, issues, and trends usually overlooked by the historically male perspectives across the social approach (Crossman, 2020). Its main principles include intersectionality, patriarchy, and gender as a social construct. Intersectionality accentuates the perception that people experience numerous types of persecution and separation given their intersecting identities (e.g., orientation, race, class). On the other hand, patriarchy stresses distinguishing the social framework where men hold elemental power and honor over ladies and how it perpetuates GBV. Further, in gender as a social construct, the feminist theory enhances an understanding that gender roles and expectations are socially constructed and influence power dynamics and violence.

Social-Ecological Model

The second theory in enhancing an understanding of gender-based violence is the Social-ecological Model. This model focuses on the complex interplay of factors at various levels contributing to gender-based violence, including the individuals, relationships, social factors, and the community. Therefore, this model plays a critical role as it suggests that in preventing violence, it is essential to act across the diverse levels of the model simultaneously. As a result, the model is more likely to sustain and enhance long-term prevention measures and attain population-level impacts (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). This model’s main principles include the individual level, the relationship level, the community level, and the societal level.

The individual level is the first principle of CDC, and it is under this level that a person’s personal and biological history that could result in the likelihood of becoming a perpetrator or victim of violence is identified. Therefore, at this level, examining individual factors such as attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors contribute to violence.

The second level is the relationship level, where close relationships, social norms, and community dynamics that can influence violence are examined. People’s immediate peers, family members, and partners can massively influence their behaviors and play roles in their experiences. As such, the prevention measures at this level are peer programs, family-based programs designed to promote healthy relationships.

The third level is the community level, and it assesses the conditions or settings where social relationships occur, including schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces, and works to understand the properties of these structures associated with the likelihood of becoming victims or perpetrators of GBV. In other words, at this level, it is done to assess the influence of organizations, policies, and societal structures that perpetuate or prevent gender-based violence.

The last level is the societal level, where broad societal determinants that can facilitate GBV are accessed. As such, the societal model considers more general cultural and societal factors, including media, politics, and economic systems, that shape attitudes and responses to violence.

Public Choice Theory

This theory focuses on the decision-making processes of individuals within public administration and how it affects policies and outcomes related to gender-based violence. Its main principles include rational choice, incentives and constraints, and public policy analysis. Sensible choice assumes that individuals choose based on personal responsibility and utility boost. Further, motivation and control perceive that the way people and associations behave is affected by the incentives and conditions they face. The public policy analysis emphasizes applying economic and political analysis to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of policies addressing gender-based violence.

Ways in Which GBV has been addressed in the past.

Over the years, different methodologies have been executed to address GBV effectively. Some of these approaches include legal reforms and criminal justice responses, support services for the survivors, education and awareness campaigns, and engaging both men and boys in GBV-addressing programs.

Numerous nations have sanctioned regulations and strategies to condemn GBV and give lawful security to survivors. These changes incorporate making explicit rules, like domestic violence regulations and sexual exploitation laws, and the foundation of particular courts or units to deal with these cases. Successful execution of these regulations can assist survivors in looking for equity and considering culprits responsible. However, despite legitimate changes, difficulties can emerge in implementing regulations because of variables like restricted assets, inadequate preparation of policing, cultural perspectives, and absence of mindfulness among survivors about their freedoms. Also, lawful methodologies may not address the main drivers of GBV or offer exhaustive help administrations for survivors.

Raising awareness about GBV through open missions, instructive projects in schools, and local area efforts can assist with testing accepted practices and advancing gender equality. These endeavors plan to change mentalities and ways of behaving that propagate violence. However, while awareness campaigns are critical in evolving discernments, they may need to be adequate to address the well-established reasons for GBV. More comprehensive methodologies are expected to handle primary inequalities, power imbalance characteristics, and fundamental issues.

Establishing support services, for example, helplines, covers, directing focuses, and clinical offices, has been essential for overcomers of GBV. These administrations give prompt help, reassurance, and admittance to legitimate guides, medical care, and restoration. However, Limited support availability and openness of help administrations can be a big test, particularly in asset-compelled settings. Survivors might confront stigma, lack of privacy, and social hindrances while seeking help (Dahal et al., 2022). Sustainable funding and coordination among multiple sectors are required to ensure the availability of comprehensive support services.


The effectiveness of the previously mentioned ways to eradicate and address the issue of GBV ought not to be underestimated. As such, it is essential to comprehend the fittingness of the choices made and address the elective estimates that might have been utilized, all things being equal. Beginning with the lawful and law enforcement reactions, legitimate changes and law enforcement reactions have been pivotal in tending to orientation-based savagery as they give a structure to considering culprits responsible and offering lawful security for survivors. These measures have played massive roles in helping deter potential offenders and provide survivors with access to justice. However, to enhance their effectiveness, legal reforms should be accompanied by comprehensive implementation strategies that include providing adequate resources for law enforcement agencies, training personnel to handle gender-based violence cases sensitively, and promoting a survivor-centered approach within the criminal justice system (Crossman, 2020).

Secondly, awareness campaigns and education have been vital in challenging societal norms, promoting gender equality, and changing attitudes toward gender-based violence. These approaches have been crucial in creating a cultural shift and preventing violence before it occurs. However, while awareness campaigns are essential, they must be supplemented with comprehensive educational programs that start early and encompass curricula targeting both formal and informal settings (Okunola, 2021). Elective methodologies, in this manner, should include community-based programs that work with exchange and essential reflection, considering a more profound comprehension of the underlying drivers of violence and tending to them comprehensively.

Third, laying out help administrations, for example, helplines, covers, advising focuses, and clinical offices, is imperative for overcomers of GBV as these administrations give prompt help, simple reassurance, and admittance to lawful guidance, medical care, and restoration. However, restricted accessibility and openness of help administrations can be critical, particularly in asset-obliged settings (Castañeda et al., 2020). Survivors might confront stigma, lack of privacy, and social boundaries while seeking help. Sustainable funding and coordination among multiple sectors are required to ensure the availability of comprehensive support services.

Feminist theory gives a framework for understanding the starting points of GBV and offers bits of knowledge into how such issues might have been forestalled. It features the roles of patriarchal power structures, social norms, and social convictions in sustaining violence against ladies and other marginalized genders. Feminist theory perceives that GBV is established in power and uneven characters between sexes. It identifies the patriarchal system, which privileges men and reinforces their dominance, as a critical factor. By examining the manners by which power works inside society, feminist theory reveals insight into how this power dynamic adds to the propagation of violence.

However, the feminist theory proposes that difficult and dismantling conventional gender standards and advocates for a more comprehensive and libertarian comprehension of orientation is basic. This includes advancing positive and peaceful models of masculinity, testing harmful manliness, and destroying the cultural assumptions that add to GBV.

Second, the social-ecological theory, also called the ecological frameworks theory, gives a system for understanding the intricate interplay of variables that add to GBV and recommends forestalling such issues. Created by Urie Bronfenbrenner, this hypothesis accentuates the significance of looking at various degrees of effect on people and their surroundings (Perrin et al., 2019). Further, the social-ecological theory recommends that forestalling GBV requires a diverse methodology that tends to individual convictions, relational connections, local area elements, and artistic designs. Meditating at different levels simultaneously makes it conceivable to make a thorough and all-encompassing reaction to forestall GBV and encourage a culture of regard, equity, and peacefulness.


GBV is a worldwide challenge that hurts people, given their gender orientation. It comprises various forms of abuse, such as sexual, physical, economic, and mental, affecting women and girls. GBV undermines efforts to achieve global objectives like reducing poverty by violating human rights and sustaining gender inequity. Research findings highlight the urgency of addressing GBV, as children raised in such environments risk becoming survivors or perpetrators of violence in the future. However, underreporting, stigma and ethical considerations pose challenges, making data collection and understanding the full scope of the problem complex (Perrin et al., 2019).

The study incorporated concepts and theories to enhance understanding of GBV. Survivor resilience and strength were recognized, along with the socially constructed roles, behaviors, and expectations imposed by gender. Perpetrator dynamics and disclosure awareness were explored alongside domestic violence, confidentiality, consent, sexual exploitation, and female genital mutilation.

Public administration theories, including feminist theory, the social-ecological model, and public choice theory, provided insights into GBV. Feminist theory analyzes power structures, social norms, and inequalities contributing to GBV (John et al., 2020). The social-ecological model emphasized factors at multiple levels (individual, relationship, community, societal) in understanding and preventing GBV. The public choice theory examines decision-making processes and their impact on GBV policies.

Various approaches have been used to address GBV, including legal reforms, criminal justice responses, awareness campaigns, educational programs, and support services (helplines, shelters, counseling centers). However, challenges persist in enforcing laws, addressing root causes, and ensuring comprehensive support services are accessible.

The study underscores the need to address GBV comprehensively urgently. It reveals its pervasive nature, detrimental impact, and the importance of effective policies and support systems. Future research should address data collection and analysis limitations and explore innovative approaches to combat GBV (Okunola, 2021). By prioritizing prevention, intervention, and support, societies can strive to eradicate GBV and create a safer, more equitable world.


Gender-based violence (GBV) research highlights the need for comprehensive approaches: legal reforms, awareness campaigns, and support services. Future research should address limitations in data collection, explore innovative methods, and conduct longitudinal studies. Comparative analysis across regions and cultures can deepen understanding of contextual factors influencing GBV.

Policy implications include implementing comprehensive legal frameworks to criminalize all forms of GBV, raising awareness through educational programs, and providing survivor-centered support services. International cooperation is crucial for sharing best practices, coordinating efforts, and allocating resources. These policy recommendations aim to eradicate GBV and promote a violence-free world. By prioritizing comprehensive approaches, research, and policy interventions, significant strides can be made in addressing GBV and advancing gender equality.


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Okunola, A. (2021, March 21). Gender-based violence: Everything to know. Global Citizen.

Perrin, N., Marsh, M., Clough, A., Desgroppes, A., Phanuel, C. Y., Abdi, A., Kaburu, F., Heitmann, S., Yamashina, M., Ross, B., Read-Hamilton, S., Turner, R., Heise, L., & Glass, N. (2019, March 8). Social norms and beliefs about gender-based violence scale: A measure for use with gender-based violence prevention programs in low-resource and humanitarian settings – conflict and health. BioMed Central.

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