Sexual Violence

in cancer patients and survivors

Key concepts pertaining to sexual violence

in cancer patients and survivors

Many female patients and survivors of cancer report sexual violence perpetrated against them by their partners. Sexuality is part of who we are, and it is often expressed through sexual activity. Cancer survivors often report sexual dysfunction, which may be caused by the diagnosis of cancer and its treatment (chemotherapy, pelvic irradiation, hormonal therapy). Regrettably, sexual dysfunction due to cancer treatment has been cited as a major cause for partner frustration and violence against women.

Types of Violence

Female cancer patients and survivors often face SGBV perpetrated by their spouses and partners. The Rwanda official Gazette N°14 OF 06 04 2009[8] has outlined the definitions of different types of violence according to Rwandan law:

Gender-based Violence

It is defined as “any act that results in a bodily, psychological, sexual and economic harm to somebody just because they are female or male. Such an act results in the deprivation of freedoms and negative consequences. This violence may be exercised within or outside the household.”


It is a circumstance in which a person is involved in sexual intercourse without consent, using force, intimidation, tricks and others

Conjugal Rape

Coercing a spouse into sexual relations without that spouse’s consent, by way of force, intimidation, tricks and others.

Sexual Slavery

Exploiting a power imbalance with another person(s) to achieve sexual self-satisfaction. This could be in the form of sexual intercourse, touching, undressing, photographing the person, exposing them, nakedness and more.


Putting someone in a position of unrest by persecuting, nagging, scorning, or insulting them.