Sexual violence is a violation of human rights and a serious public health problem. It has a profound impact on physical and mental health, both immediately and many years after the assault. To date, sexual violence has received insufficient attention from researchers, policy-makers and programme designers and it has been a long struggle to have it recognised as a legitimate public health issue. The SVRI is an important contribution to eliminating sexual violence by simultaneously addressing the lack of research on the different aspects of sexual violence as well as drawing attention of a wide range of people including policy makers and the media, to this important public health issue.
In May 2000, with the support of the Global Forum for Health Research, the Key Centre for Research on Women in Melbourne, Australia, hosted a meeting of representatives from all regions of the world and several networks of organizations working on sexual violence.
The group reached consensus on the need for a global initiative on sexual violence research, and a coordinating group of experts from different disciplines and regions was set up to guide the work.
The SVRI builds on the experience of the WHO Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence Against Women and on the other initiatives of the Global Forum for Health Research.