Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is violence directed against anyone based on their sex or gender, where sex refers to the biological differences between male and female and gender to the socially constructed images of the sexes. It encompasses physical, sexual, verbal and psychological violence, independently of their setting.
SGBV undermines the human rights, safety and dignity of millions of affected individuals. It is furthermore detrimental to the public health and security of the communities in which it happens.
SGBV affects 1 out of every 3 women around the world, with 1 in every 33 men suffering SGBV. It is therefore closely connected to violence against women (VAW). Unequal power relationships and differences in social standing between men and women are the main reason for SGBV. Engaging men in SGBV prevention is a fundamental part of Tearfund’s work, along with assisting survivors.
Tearfund believes that churches have a key role to play in supporting survivors and challenging harmful attitudes and practices surrounding gender issues that often enable violence.
Some key statistics about SGBV
- About 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lives. However, some national studies show that up to 70 per cent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.
- More than 700 million women alive today were married as children (below 18 years of age). Of those women, more than 1 in 3 – or some 250 million – were married before the age of 15. Child brides are often unable to negotiate safe sex effectively, leaving them vulnerable to early pregnancy as well as sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
- Around 120 million girls worldwide (slightly more than 1 in 10) have experienced forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point in their lives. By far the most common perpetrators of sexual violence against girls are current or former husbands, partners or boyfriends.
- An estimated 133 million girls and women have experienced some form of female genital mutilation/cutting in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, where the harmful practice is most common with a high risk of prolonged bleeding, infection (including HIV), complications during childbirth, infertility and death.
Source: UN Women
- Violence kills and disables as many women between the ages of 15 and 44 as cancer. Its toll on women's health surpasses that of traffic accidents and malaria combined.
- Survivors of sexual assault are 3 times more likely to suffer from depression, 6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs, and 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.
- An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of female genital mutilation (FGM).
Source: Center for Women’s Global Leadership, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (www.cwgl.rutgers.edu).