Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is a public health, development, and human rights issue which requires a comprehensive multi-sectoral response in order to address its many facets, root causes and consequences. With 84% of the world’s population affiliating themselves with a religion, the faith sector is a key partner in addressing SGBV. Thus a DFID-funded scoping study on the role of faith communities in SGBV prevention and response explored the existing evidence base for faith involvement in SGBV intervention. It found that evidence for the role, nature and impact of faith-based SGBV involvement is needed to facilitate inter-sector collaboration, but that such evidence is currently lacking. Research on and increased documentation of faith-based SGBV intervention programmes will not only contribute to the development of better and more impactful faith-based programming, but also contribute to a growing body of evidence that can facilitate inter-sector partnerships, which in turn hopes to contribute to the reduction of the prevalence and incidence of SGBV and the adequate and integrated response for survivors.
Six key focus areas have emerged as highly relevant for having the faith sector and its work contribute to building the body of evidence, and for strengthening faith-based response and developing inter-sector trust and collaboration, all with the goal of reducing SGBV and providing quality of care to SGBV survivors. These six areas are framed as a set of recommendations for three groups of actors, namely local faith communities and faith-based organisations (FBOs), donors and policy makers, and academics and researchers.
Evidence for faith involvement in SGBV prevention and response need to be strengthened by documenting, evaluating and disseminating information on faith groups’ activities.
Prioritise rigorous programme development
Rigorous programme development should ensure that longer-term, context-appropriate interventions are developed.
Recognise faith leaders as key stakeholders
SGBV prevention and response should target faith leaders as important community gatekeepers, but also authoritative and influential opinion leaders.
Use multiple modalities, engaging multiple stakeholders, in
Various well-integrated methods should be implemented during an intervention, in partnership with various stakeholders from different sectors.
Actively seek out and develop networking and collaboration
Both faith and secular actors should actively attempt to network and collaborate on SGBV intervention. This includes networking and collaboration between different faith actors, but also between the faith and secular actors.
Develop inclusive global policies and strategies
Donors and policy makers should include various faith actors in the development of policies and strategies that ascertain to SGBV.
Anon. Policy Brief - The role of faith communities and organisations in prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence: implications for policy and practice. (2015) 5 pp.