Institute for Global Health


Storytelling for Health (SHAER)

SHAER project

Project Summary 

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a significant global health problem predominantly affecting women and girls with severe consequences for their mental health (Mannell & Hawkes 2017). Women who have experienced GBV are at higher risk of severe mental health issues. In high prevalence settings, the mental health effects of GBV are often further compounded by social and structural norms that condone violence.

These social norms contribute to the extremely high rates of GBV in these settings, deter women from reporting violence, and lead to the denial of GBV and its mental health effects by both communities and governments. Estimated rates of violence against women and girls in the regions and countries involved in this project range from 58.6% in Kurdistan to 87.2% in Afghanistan.

The normalisation of GBV is also widespread and often condoned by the state through the absence of appropriate policy responses. Socially acceptable and culturally-relevant solutions are urgently needed for these settings.

This project establishes a partnership to explore narrative storytelling as a culturally-relevant approach to responding to trauma from gender-based violence (GBV) against women in high prevalence settings. It brings together academics, poets, civil society organisations, and feminist activists working on GBV in the UK and across the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.

The partnership includes experts from the medical science (psychiatry, psychology) and humanities (humanitarian ethics, women's studies, and literature studies). Our aim is to develop a therapeutic approach to GBV-related trauma among women in these settings.

Links to other research

Other research from IGH in Afghanistan, Iraq,  IndiaSouth Africa, Tunisia and Turkey

Other research from the UCL Centre for Gender and Global Health