Rape and sexual abuse are everyday violent occurrences

Unless governments fix their laws on rape and sexual assault and implement them effectively and sensitively, we are unlikely to see an end to the worldwide abuse of women and girls anytime soon.

– Yasmeen Hassan, Global Executive Director, Equality Now

Rape and sexual abuse are everyday violent occurrences — affecting close to a billion women and girls over their lifetimes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. According to UNICEF, around 120 million girls worldwide, just over 1 in 10, have experienced “forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts” at some point in their lives. Everyone reading this is likely to have either survived, or to know someone who has experienced, some form of sexual violence.

However, despite the pervasiveness of these crimes, laws are insufficient, inconsistent, not systematically enforced and, sometimes, promote violence.

If it were a medical disease, sexual violence would have the serious attention and the funding to address it, from governments and independent donors alike. In our February 2017 advocacy report, The World’s Shame – The Global Rape Epidemic: How Laws Around the World are Failing to Protect Women and Girls from Sexual Violence, we identify seven key gaps in global rape laws and call on governments and policymakers to fix them and to ensure justice for survivors of sexual violence.

Add your voice to the call! Please sign our petition which will be delivered to governments before the June 2017 UN Human Rights Council meeting!

PETITION

Sexual violence against women and girls is endemic. It does incredible physical, psychological and consequential harm, preventing women and girls from realizing their full potential. Laws and legal systems around the world need to be amended to prevent sexual violence, to ensure justice if it happens and to promote equality.

We call on your government to comprehensively review and amend, in consultation with survivors and women’s rights organizations, all laws, policies and procedures relating to rape and sexual assault. Such policies and procedures must be survivor-centered, non-discriminatory and sufficiently resourced to ensure women and girls’ access to justice.

We also call on your government to comprehensively review all its laws and policies to ensure removal of all remaining sex discrimination. Legal equality gives women and girls a level playing field from which to make their own choices, build their capabilities and achieve their hopes and dreams. This positively affects the whole of society as recognized in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by governments at the UN in 2015.

Read more: EqualityNow

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