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Ending Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is a form of gender-based violence that can only be eliminated by tackling the root causes of sexism.

Overview

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.

1 in 3 women

globally will experience violence, including intimate partner violence or rape

1 in 10 girls

under 20 have experienced forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts

How we will end sexual violence

At Equality Now, we support justice actors from around the world to understand how a comprehensive, gender-sensitive investigation and prosecution, properly conducted, would lead to improved justice for survivors of 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 prevent and end 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.

Ecosystems Approach

Equality Now is working to explore what additional partnerships are needed to tackle sexual violence and ensure all women and girls, including and especially from marginalized communities, are served by the system. By taking an ecosystems approach to building support mechanisms for all women and girls, victims/survivors of sexual violence, throughout the justice process and pathways to it, can collaborate to ensure all voices are represented and promote a properly functioning ecosystem of support.

Explore our work on sexual violence by region

Explore our publications and resources on sexual violence

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Sexual Violence and Disability in Kyrgyzstan: Law, Policy, Practice and Access to Justice

28 May 2023

Globally, an estimated 736 million women have been subjected to physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, non-partner...

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Sexual Violence Laws In Eurasia: Towards a consent-based definition

23 January 2023

This report examines legal provisions relating to sexual violence in five Eurasian countries – Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyr...

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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...

Day of the African Child: It’s time to let girls learn

June 14, 2024

June 16 marks the Day of the African Child, a day to celebrate the children across Africa and renew commitments to addressing...

The Belém do Pará Convention at 30: Understanding the impact on women’s rights in the Americas

June 7, 2024

Governments, civil society, and other international actors are gathering in Chile in the Conference of States Parties of the ...

The Belém do Pará Convention at 30: Five things you should know

June 7, 2024

1. What is the Belém do Pará Convention?  The Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication...

Consent Campaign

Many countries have definitions of rape which are based on force or the threat of force, as opposed to lack of consent. Learn about what Equality Now is doing to change those laws

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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.



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:

If you are in the UK: 

If you are in Europe, you may find this directory of organizations useful.