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Kabita (not real name) who is 12 years old, living at a slum in Rangpur city corporation. She is in grade six and wants to be a doctor one day.

Ending violence against women and girls

Offering girls and women the protection they need

What is violence against women and girls?

Violence against women and girls is all too prevalent in the world. It crosses cultures, economic status and ethnicity and affects communities worldwide. The United Nations defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women.” It takes many forms; domestic abuse, trafficking, sexual assault, rape, or harmful practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting (also known as FGM/C).

The effects of these violent acts can be devastating, and the women and girls who survive them often have to live with physical and mental trauma, and in some cases physical disabilities or permanent damage to their sexual and reproductive health. The ripples of violence reach families, communities and nations; damaging lives forever.

Targeted by those closest to them

The worrying thing is, these violent and/or sexual attacks often come from those closest to the survivors. It’s reported that 1 in 5 married/partnered women have been subjected to physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. 10% of them, have been subjected to it in the past 12 months. Casting the net wider, RAINN reports that 8 out of 10 rape survivors will know their assailant.

This problem is one that’s entirely too real in child marriages, where “girls married before the age of 15 are almost 50% more likely to have experienced either physical or sexual intimate partner violence than those married after 18.” - Girls Not Brides

Grace, a former child soldier from South Sudan, sits at a sewing machine.
Grace, a former child soldier, now advocates for protection of children from armed groups in South Sudan and carefully uses her sewing machine provided by World Vision to support her family.

Violence against the already vulnerable

Although violence against women is prevalent across the world, it becomes more intense in emergency or conflict situations. As stability, female protection and family are replaced by chaos, stress and displacement, vulnerable women and girls are targeted.

In a study by World Vision, a 40% surge in helpline calls in Bangladesh were noted following the COVID-19 lockdown. Over half of those interviewed expressed their concern about the safety and security of girls. Similarly, the escalation of conflict in the Ethiopian Tigray region saw 108 reports of sexual violence against women and children in just a period of two months. In Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, cases of child marriage and sexual slavery have reportedly increased as families become desperate to provide for basic needs.

How is World Vision helping to end violence against women and girls?

Community action

Prevention of violence against women and girls must start long before an emergency occurs. A key part of our work with communities is strengthening child protection systems, promoting the rights of women and girls and bringing men and boys alongside as allies and advocates. Children and adults are educated about children’s safety through child parliaments, girls' clubs and child protection committees, which also give a platform for their voices to be heard.

Empowerment through education

We believe education is the right of every child and, for girls, it can change the course of their lives immensely. By offering education, we give girls the tools they need to succeed in life and break the cycle of poverty. This can mean that they don’t need to rely on a husband at a young age, are able to support themselves and can help remove them from potentially harmful situations. We also implement child-friendly spaces wherever it’s needed, which can help children stay out of danger and relieve their parents whilst giving them a safe space during a crisis, where support is offered.

Survivor support

Unfortunately, the problem isn’t going away any time soon and, although preventative action can help women and girls be protected in the future, we also need to offer support for those who have already been affected. We refer to women and children who have experienced violence as survivors and not victims. However, the journey from 'victim' to 'survivor' requires patience and support, psychological and medical assistance and the promise of hope for the future. Thanks to our supporters, World Vision can offer that and work alongside whole communities to ensure that the next generation grows up safer.

Help to end violence against women and girls

and support their whole community

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