Being able to live a life free from violence, including sexual violence, is a fundamental human right. Despite this, sexual violence is wide-ranging and pervasive throughout the world, including in the Americas. It is rooted in discrimination, sex and gender inequality, and patriarchal norms, and is perpetuated by the law itself, particularly against adolescent girls.
This report, which reviews the gaps and loopholes in the sexual violence laws of 43 jurisdictions in 35 countries in North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, calls on governments to improve protections in the law, as well as improving access to justice and implementation of the law, and challenging negative stereotypes so that sexual violence is reduced, and perpetrators are held accountable.
“I think people blame victims because sexual violence is like a mirror to society. It’s better to think that a girl is lying because if not, that means acknowledging that someone in your circle is capable of something like that and can hurt someone else.”Stephanie, Ecuador
Equality Now’s analysis of laws, policies, and practices related to sexual violence, alongside in-depth discussions with survivors, activists, and lawyers actively engaging with survivors of sexual violence, found that many sexual violence and rape laws across the jurisdictions studied effectively deny justice to survivors of sexual violence due to loopholes and protection gaps in the laws. The report also uncovered severe barriers to accessing justice and implementation gaps within the criminal justice system in many jurisdictions.
We’re calling for comprehensive action from governments to holistically address sexual violence and intersecting discrimination faced by women and girls across the region to live up to their commitments to protect and promote the human rights of women and girls. Specifically, the governments of the Americas must:
- Improve protections in the law
- improve access to justice under the law
- Improve implementation, practice, and accountability
- Challenge negative stereotypes and improve public understanding of sexual violence
Read the perspectives of survivors and activists across the Americas
Explore further resources
Canada – Committee on the Rights of the Child – 90th Session, May 2022
This submission details our concern about the continued prevalence of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in Canada and the failure of the Canadian government to take concrete and …
United States – Testimony in Support of B24-0516, the “Female Genital Mutilation Prohibition Act of 2021”- District of Columbia
This written testimony was submitted to the Council of the District of Columbia Committee on the Judiciary & Public …
Bolivia – Submission to the Human Rights Committee – 134th Session February – March 2022
This submission expresses our concerns about sexual violence laws and procedures in Bolivia that deny justice to survivors and constitute a violation of …