Gender-Based Violence Creates An Unequal World for Children

Every girl and boy deserves to grow up free from harm. Yet gender-based violence continues, effectively ending their childhoods and risking their futures. Gender-based violence occurs in every country in the world and across all economic and social groups. Sadly, one in three women and girls will experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetimes.

While both girls and boys are negatively impacted, girls are particularly vulnerable. These types of violent acts against children are specifically committed against their will and are based on gender norms and an imbalance of power in their relationships.[i]

Gender-based violence has been ingrained into society, in some countries and regions more than others. In many communities, violence against girls and women is expected and even accepted. In Guinea, for instance, 89% of girls and women between the ages 15-24 believe that men beating their wives is justified under at least one condition.[ii]

What is gender-based violence?

Gender-based violence against children is an act of crime against girls and boys that “undermine the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims.”[iii] These acts are perpetuated physically, sexually, psychologically and/or economically, and seek to deny access to resources or services that may help lift a victim out of the cycle of violence.

Violence against girls includes sexual violence, child marriage, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation, intimate partner violence, trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse. The impacts are significant in both the short- and long-term, and can include serious physical injuries, sexually transmitted infections such as HIV/AIDs, forced and unwanted pregnancies, and greater risk of maternal mortality[iv].

Boys are also victims of trafficking and gender-based sexual violence and exploitation, but due to stigmatization, the numbers continue to be vastly underreported. Adolescent boys over the age of 10 are also particularly vulnerable to being detained because they are regarded as security threats for their – or their family’s – alleged association with armed groups. Children are tortured or abused, kept with adult prisoners, not provided proper legal support, or live in conditions that are against international standards for juvenile justice.

The threat of gender-based violence is pervasive and contributes to the end of childhood for millions of children around the world, as shown by staggering global trends:[iv]

  • 15 million girls are married before the age of 18 each year
  • 30 million girls are at risk of female genital mutilation in the next decade
  • 1 in 3 girls and women live in countries where marital rape is not an explicit crime

Read the full article about gender-based violence at Save the Children.