Protection from Violence - Equality Now
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Protection from Violence

Global estimates published by WHO indicate that about 1 in 3, or 35%, of women worldwide, have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.

Sex discrimination in laws purporting to address violence, or silence on the issue within the law, can actually promote violence against women and girls because there is little to deter perpetrators from committing crimes or inadequate recourse for victims; intimate partner and sexual violence is disproportionately inflicted upon women. 

Why is this an issue? 

Sex discrimination in laws purporting to address violence, or silence on the issue within the law, can actually promote or perpetuate violence against women and girls because there is little to deter perpetrators from committing crimes or inadequate recourse for victims; intimate partner and sexual violence is disproportionately inflicted upon women and adolescent girls. 

What is the impact on women and girls? 

Global estimates published by WHO indicate that about 1 in 3, or 35%, of women worldwide, have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. According to UNICEF, around 120 million girls worldwide, just over 1 in 10, have experienced “forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts” at some point in their lives. 

Sexual violence and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, have a devastating effect on children’s health, and girls are more vulnerable than boys to the consequences of unprotected and premature sexual relations. Girls often face pressures to engage in sexual activity. The staggering numbers of women and girls affected may in part be due to the inequality and discrimination and sanctioned violence in the law itself. This can be seen in “marry your rapist” laws which allow a perpetrator to go unpunished if they marry their victim, as well as laws that are silent or make exception for rape within marriage, excusing a rapist simply because he is already married to his victim; laws that allow men to “punish” or “correct” their wives; and laws that punish murder of “adulterous” women less harshly. 

Globally, many countries have spearheaded new laws and legal reforms on violence against women. States now have legislative provisions that specifically address domestic violence; •  States now explicitly criminalize marital rape; States now have some form of legislative provision against sexual harassment; States now have legislative provisions criminalizing trafficking in human beings;  States around the world now have laws against FGM. However, the implementation of these laws remains challenging at many levels.

What needs to change? 

To help achieve an end to sexual violence, implement Beijing+5 Political Declaration paragraph 69(a) by “review[ing] and revis[ing] legislation, where appropriate, with a view to introducing effective legislation, including on violence against women, and tak[ing] other necessary measures to ensure that all women and girls are protected against all forms of physical, psychological and sexual violence, and are provided recourse to justice”.

Beijing Platform for Action Recommendations

Beijing +5 Political Declaration Chapter IV Actions and initiatives states, “As a matter of priority, review and revise legislation, where appropriate, with a view to introducing effective legislation, including on violence against women, and take other necessary measures to ensure that all women and girls are protected against all forms of physical, psychological and sexual violence, and are provided recourse to justice…”

How is Equality Now working to end violence against women and girls through the law?

Equality Now uses the law to end violence against women and girls by:

  • Advocating for strong laws and policies to protect women and girls from sexual violence
  • Making sure that the justice system works, with proper investigation, prosecution, and punishment of offenders
  • Pushing for legal procedures that support survivors and prevent re-victimization
  • Working with partners to bring specific cases to national, regional and international courts to underscore the global nature of this human rights abuse