Sexual violence is an everyday reality that impacts millions of people around the world. This violence can take many forms, including but not limited to, rape; sexual abuse; and molestation, including when committed in the context of domestic violence.
While anyone can be a victim of sexual violence, structural misogyny and systematic inequality mean that women and girls are much more likely to experience sexual violence and much less likely to perpetrate it than men. Because the vast majority of victims are women and girls and almost all perpetrators are men, sexual violence is a form of gender-based violence that can only be eliminated by tackling the root causes of sexism.
Over her lifetime, one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence — regardless of age, background, or country — which means that sexual violence impacts women and girls in epidemic proportions. However, despite the pervasiveness of these crimes, laws around the world are insufficient, inconsistent, not systematically enforced, and in some instances, even promote and perpetuate sexual violence.
How we will end sexual violence
Because all acts of sexual violence are about power, control, and entitlement and not sexual desire, there are universal pillars that can be applied to preventing and ending the practice. At Equality Now, we know that ending sexual violence everywhere requires:
> Good laws
Laws that stigmatize victims and hinder the possibility for justice and accountability must be replaced by laws that reflect the true nature of sexual violence, exclude negative stereotypes and myths, and are informed by the experiences of survivors.
> Effective Implementation
Good laws are a critical first step, but they alone are not enough to prevent sexual violence and deliver justice to survivors. Laws are only effective if they are properly implemented and that requires educating the population on their rights and properly training those who are tasked with carrying out the law.
> Intersectional Analysis
Marginalized groups are more likely to experience sexual violence, and to have had negative interactions with the criminal justice system. An intersectional lens must be integrated into laws, policies, and procedures and followed from the outset as every survivor is entitled to justice and support, and systems must be designed to cater for a diverse range of needs and identities.
Explore our work on sexual violence by region
Explore all regions
Explore our publications and resources on sexual violence
Failure to Protect: How Discriminatory Sexual Violence Laws and Practices are Hurting Women, Girls, and Adolescents in the Americas
16 September 2021
Being able to live a life free from violence, including sexual violence, is a fundamental human right. Despite this, sexual v…
Sexual Violence in South Asia: Legal and Other Barriers to Justice for Survivors
20 April 2021
Protection gaps in rape laws and barriers to accessing justice continue to lead to effective denial of justice for survivors …
Effectively Investigating, Prosecuting and Adjudicating Sexual Violence Cases: A Manual for Practitioners in Georgia
22 September 2021
Effectively Investigating, Prosecuting and Adjudicating Sexual Violence Cases: A Manual for Practitioners in Georgia was…
None of us can afford to sit back and wait for equality to arrive – we need to act now. Only by working together will we achieve the legal and systemic change needed to address violence and discrimination against women and girls.
Social change begins with legal change and people like you — raising your voice against injustice — play a vital role in our collective success.
Take action to end sexual violence
Help stop child sexual abuse in Bolivia!
Bolivia has the highest rate of sexual violence in Latin America. Sexual violence against children is especially common in Bolivia, with 1 in 3 girls experiencing sexual violence before age 18. The country also has the highest adolescent pregnancy ...
Equality Now does not provide direct support for those experiencing sexual violence. If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual violence there are secure, confidential and free resources available.
If you are in Lebanon:
If you are in the US:
- Call the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network(RAINN) at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or click here to chat live online.
If you are in the UK:
- Call Rape Crisis England & Wales on 0808 802 9999 (12:00 - 14:30 and 19:00 - 21:30 daily)
- Call Rape Crisis Scotland on 08088 01 03 02
- Call Women’s Aid Northern Ireland on 0808 802 1414, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are in Europe, you may find this directory of organizations useful.