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.
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Zambia – UPR Joint Submission 2022
July 14, 2022
This submission outlines the challenges in the implementation of international norms and standards and the legislation of Zambia in addressing sexual violence, discrimination, child marriage, and the right to education for pregnant girls/teenage …
Sri Lanka – UPR Joint Submission 2022
July 13, 2022
During the previous UPR cycle, Sri Lanka received 39 recommendations to strengthen and improve measures regarding women’s rights protection. Of these recommendations, 11 related to preventing and eliminating violence against women; including …
Declaration of the Youth Forum for the 4th LAC Regional Conference on Population and Development
June 30, 2022
An intersectional statement, signed by Equality Now partners and other youth organizations, urging governments to guarantee the rights of marginalized groups as promised in …
CSO Declaration for the 4th LAC Regional Conference on Population and Development
June 30, 2022
A statement that details civil society organizations’ concerns ahead of the upcoming (in 2023) 10 year anniversary of the Montevideo Consensus, and urges States to take clear, specific …
Bolivia – Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women – 82nd Session June 2022
June 15, 2022
This submission details: the State’s failure to fulfill its duty to provide equal protection under the law to survivors of sexual violence (Article 2 (c) of CEDAW); …
Zambia – Committee On The Rights Of The Child – 90th Session, May 2022
April 19, 2022
This submission details our concerns with regard to laws related to sexual violence and the right to education for girls in Zambia. Submitted by: Equality Now, Women and Law in Southern Africa …
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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.
Take action to end sexual violence
Justice over honor: Kuwait should amend its Penal Code to protect women and girls from sexual violence
Kuwait’s Penal Code defines rape as a crime against honor, positioning women and girls as ‘vessels of honor’ rather than recognizing their human right to bodily …
India: Haryana Government must act to end caste-based sexual violence
Dalit survivors of sexual violence in Haryana, India are facing severe obstacles to accessing justice as well as intersectional caste and gender discrimination. The Haryana government needs to take immediate …
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.