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Research on VAW and VAC must be conducted with appropriate measures to address ethical and safety considerations.

Key ethical and safety considerations include:

  1. Is the research necessary? Does it address a gap in the field? Does it build on existing evidence?
  2. Do the benefits of the research outweigh the risks to both the participants and the communities?
  3. Confidentiality must be protected and informed consent gained.
  4. The safety of women and children in the study and the researchers must be prioritised.

Key guidelines developed for the field and supplement the recommendations in the International Ethical Guidelines for Health-related Research Involving Humans, Prepared by the Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS) in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), 2016, include:

World Health Organization. (2016). Ethical and safety recommendations for intervention research on violence against women. Building on lessons from the WHO publication: Putting women first: ethical and safety recommendations for research on domestic violence against women. World Health Organization.
Sexual Violence Research Initiative. (2015). Guidelines for the prevention and management of vicarious trauma among researchers of sexual and intimate partner violence. SVRI.
Jewkes, R., Dartnall, E., & Sikweyiya, Y. (2012). Ethical and safety recommendations for research on perpetration of sexual violence. Sexual Violence Research Initiative and SA Medical  Research Counc.
World Health Organization. (2007). WHO ethical and safety recommendations for researching, documenting and monitoring sexual violence in emergencies. World Health Organization.
Ellsberg, M., & Heise, L. (2005). Researching violence against women: practical guidelines for researchers and activists. World Health Organization.
World Health Organization. (2001). Putting Women First: Ethical and Safety Recommendations for Research on Domestic Violence Against Women [WHO/FCH/GWH/01.1]. World Health Organization.
Kyegombe, N., Banks, L. M., Kelly, S., Kuper, H., & Devries, K. M. (2019). How to conduct good quality research on violence against children with disabilities: key ethical, measurement, and research principles. BMC Public Health, 19(1), 1133.
World Health Organization. (2018). Guidance on ethical considerations in planning and reviewing research studies on sexual and reproductive health in adolescents.
Morris, A., Hegarty, K., & Humphreys, C. (2012). Ethical and safe: Research with children about domestic violence. Research Ethics, 8(2), 125–139.
CP MERG. (2012). Ethical principles, dilemmas and risks in collecting data on violence against  children: A review of available literature. Statistics and Monitoring Section/Division of Policy and Strategy, UNICEF.
Ethical Research Involving Children, ERIC, Child Ethics. (n.d.). Ethical Research Involving Children. Retrieved March 6, 2024, from

For more information visit: Ethics and safety

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