Kombis, Brothels, and Violence Against Women: Building Global Health Partnerships to Address Women’s Health and Empowerment

  • Christina Tara KhanEmail author


This chapter is a perspective on the author’s year as a Fogarty global health and clinical research fellow in Peru. In a colorful rendition she walks us through the trials and tribulations of getting accustomed to life in Lima as a medical student. She describes her participation in public health interventions in collaboration with Peruvian clinician-investigators and her experiences getting to know a particularly marginalized community, female commercial sex workers. As she works with members of this community in a specialized clinic at a community health center, Dr. Khan’s observations of the conditions where they work and the daily violence these women experience spark an interest in gender-based violence and women’s empowerment. She describes the process of developing and carrying out a qualitative research study with this vulnerable population. While the study results are reported elsewhere, Dr. Khan elaborates on the process of carrying out a research project in an international setting, including lessons learned on building rapport, adhering to ethical principles and human subjects regulations, and safety considerations. She concludes the piece with a reflection on the potential for global partnerships to address social inequities such as gender-based violence.


Community health Violence against women Global health Clinical research Women’s empowerment 


  1. 1.
    World Health Organization. WHO multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence against women: initial results on prevalence, health outcomes, and women’s responses. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2005.Google Scholar
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    World Health Organization/London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Preventing intimate partner and sexual violence against women: taking action and generating evidence. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2010.Google Scholar
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    Gbowee L. Unlock the intelligence, passion, greatness of girls. March, 2012. Available at

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesStanford University School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care SystemStanfordUSA

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