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
Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee over the USA’s Failure to Uphold the Rights of Women and Girls in all their Diversity
The United States of America is violating its international legal obligations by failing to uphold the human rights of women and …
Input for SR VAWG’s report on violence against women and children in custody cases in Latin America and the Caribbean December 2022
Equality Now, Sisma Mujer, CLADEM, Asociación Civil El Paso, Asociación de Mujeres de Guatemala AMG, DEMOS, Pan …
Mexico- Submission to the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) at its 88th Pre-Session Working Group September 2023
This submission highlights the failure by the State of its duty to develop and comply with its obligations …