Facts and stats

GBV manifests in multiple forms and contexts.

Affirming the right of women and girls to live a life free from violence is a vital and necessary step toward advancing CARE’s vision of a world of hope, tolerance and social justice, where poverty has been overcome and all people live in dignity and security.

 

GBV manifests in multiple forms and contexts

Intimate partner violence

Intimate partner violence is the most common form of GBV. This is deeply intertwined with Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR).

  • 1 out of 3 women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence, mostly at the hands of an intimate partner.

Reference: WHO, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and South African Medical Research Council (2013). Global and regional estimates of violence against women: prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence; Tsacoyeanes, J. (2014). Who is vulnerable to gender-based violence? Women Thrive Worldwide. 

  • Physical and sexual abuse by male partners greatly exceeds the prevalence of all other forms of violence in most women’s lives.[1] This is linked with violence as a source of power over women.[2]

References: 1. Heise, L. (December 2011). "What works to prevent partner violence: An evidence overview". STRIVE; 2. Jewkes, R., Flood, M., Lang, J. (2015). "From work with men and boys to changes of social norms and reduction of inequities in gender relations: A conceptual shift in prevention of violence against women and girls." The Lancet, 385(9977), 1580-1589.

  • Surveys conducted in 52 countries between 2005 and 2015 indicate that 21% of girls and women between the ages of 15 and 49 experienced physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner in the previous 12 months.

Reference: United Nations, Economic and Social Council (2016). Progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals: report of the Secretary-General.

  • There is a correlation between alcohol abuse and the frequency and severity of partner violence.

Reference: Heise, L. (December 2011). "What works to prevent partner violence: An evidence overview". STRIVE.

Child, early and forced marriage and other harmful traditional practices

Child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) and other harmful traditional practices are practiced in several parts of the world and, in times of conflict and economic stress, can become a coping strategy.

  • CEFM occurs around the world, and cuts across countries, cultures, religions and ethnicities: 45% of girls under age 18 are married in South Asia; 39% in sub-Saharan Africa; 23% in Latin America and the Caribbean; 18% in the Middle East and North Africa; and in some communities in Europe and North America too.

Reference: Girls Not Brides (2016). An Information Sheet: child marriage around the world.

  • In general, CEFM practices are concentrated in the poorest countries of the world, particularly affecting those in poor households. Girls who marry young also face greater threats of chronic poverty. 

Reference: Girls Not Brides (2016). An Information Sheet: child marriage around the world.

  • 700 million women alive today were married before the age of 18 (more than one-third before the age of 15). However, trends also show this practice is shifting: globally, the proportion of women aged between 20 and 24 who reported that they were married before their eighteenth birthday dropped from 32% in around 1990 to 26% in around 2015.[xxix]

References: UNICEF (2014). Ending Child Marriage: Progress and prospects; United Nations, Economic and Social Council (2016). Progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals: report of the Secretary-General

    • Girls married before 18 are at greater risk of physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

    Reference: Girls Not Brides (2016). An Information Sheet: child marriage around the world.

    • Female genital cutting (FGC/M) takes place in over 28 countries today – across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. It can create lifelong physical and psychological harms like compilations in urination, menses and birth.

    Reference: International Planned Parenthood Federation (n.d.) Harmful Traditional Practices affecting women and girls. 

      • Dowry-related violence affects an estimated 25,000 newly married women each year.

      Reference: International Planned Parenthood Federation (n.d.) Harmful Traditional Practices affecting women and girls. 

          • Violence related to son preference – such as sex-based abortion and infanticide – are evidence in skewed birth and population ratios. For example in Central, South and East Asia, as well as Europe. [1] For example in Liechtenstein, Azerbaijan, Armenia, China, India, Vietnam, Albania and Georgia over 110 males are born for every 100 females.[2]

          References: 1. International Planned Parenthood Federation (n.d.) Harmful Traditional Practices affecting women and girls; 2. Wikipedia (retrieved: March 2017). List of countries by sex ratio.

          Emergencies and violence

          In times of war and in humanitarian emergencies, women often face amplified risks in terms of violence

          • While disruptions from emergencies raise risks of generalized violence, violent conflicts and disasters especially see the amplification of existing harmful practices and inequalities. Reasons behind this are often linked to lack of protection for populations affected by crises, group disempowerment, as well as tactics for livelihood security (as seen through child marriage trends and sexual exploitation, for example).

          References: IASC (2005). Guidelines for Gender Based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings; Refugees International (2014). Philippines: New approach to emergency response fails women and girls.

          • For example, following the 2011 floods in Pakistan, a survey found 52% of community members saw safety and privacy of women and girls as a concern. A rapid assessment with displaced persons affected by conflict revealed that many women and girls faced aggravated domestic violence, early and forced marriage and other forms of GBV.

          Reference: IASC (2005). Guidelines for Gender Based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings

          • In Liberia, a survey of 1666 adults found that 32.6% of male combatants had faced sexual violence, with 16.5% forced to act as sexual servants.

          Reference: IASC (2005). Guidelines for Gender Based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings

            • In Mali, displaced families from the North (where FGC/M is not common) reported taking up this practice after facing social stigma whilst displaced in Southern regions where FGC/M is a norm.

            Reference: IASC (2005). Guidelines for Gender Based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings

              • Rape of both women and men as a weapon of war is documented in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sri Lanka, Chile, Greece, Iran, Kuwait, the former Soviet Union and parts of the former Yugoslavia.

              Reference: Stemple, L. (2009). Male Rape and Human Rights. Hastings Law Journal, 60(605).

              • GBV against men and boys as victims has been reported in terms of forced perpetration and bystanders to acts of harassment, humiliation, sexual assault and genital mutilation. These were often used to “emasculate” male victims.

              Reference: Stemple, L. (2009). Male Rape and Human Rights. Hastings Law Journal, 60(605).

              The situation in Syria and neighboring countries is a case in point.

              • Syrian refugee women and girls face heightened risk of assault amid conflict – via exposure to state violence at checkpoints and border crossings, and in detention facilities or camp settings (made worse with poor infrastructure and lighting, that put people at risk when accessing water, sanitation or other basic needs).

              Reference: UN News Centre, (May 7, 2015). Senior UN official warns of 'widespread and systematic' sexual violence in Syria, Iraq.

              • Practices of child marriage have increased in communities where trends found the practice to be in decline. For example in Syria the rate of child marriage was 13% before the war, though among Syrian refugee communities in Jordan the rate of child marriage is now 25%.

              Reference: Save the Children (2014) Syrian child marriage in Jordan doubled; Women's Refugee Commission (2016) A girl no more: the changing norms of child marriage in conflict.

                • There are reports of GBV (including child marriage) as a weapon of war in Syria and Iraq. This has particularly targeted those in the Yazidi minority group.

                Reference: The Guardian, (July 25, 2013), Rape and domestic violence follow Syrian women into refugee camps; Girls not Brides (retrieved Aug 16, 2016). Child Marriage in the Middle East and North Africa

                    • Domestic violence and sexual exploitation are widely reported in sprawling refugee camps.

                    Reference; CARE International UK (2016). On her own: How women forced to flee from Syria are shouldering increased responsibility as they struggle to survive.
                     

                     

                    Impacts of GBV

                    • Across the globe, 60% of women face reproductive health issues related to GBV.

                    Reference: UNFPA (2013). The role of data in addressing violence against women and girls. New York.

                    • Communities terrorized by genocide, or ethnic conflict and disenfranchisement, can be characterized by post-traumatic stress disorder, alcoholism, suicide, hyper-masculinities, and domestic violence.

                    Reference: Walker, E., George, T, and Hughes, T. (2014). Addressing ethnic conflict, genocide and mass violence

                    • Children who grow up witnessing domestic abuse are at a higher risk of experiencing physical, psychological, and emotional abuse themselves. Based on two separate meta-analyses witnessing abuse as a child has been found to be a moderate risk factor for abuse perpetration by men in adulthood.

                    Reference: Stith SM, Rosen KH, Middleton KA, Busch AL, Lundeberg K, Carlton RP. The Intergenerational Transmission of Spouse Abuse: A Meta-Analysis. J Marriage Fam. 2000; 62: 640–654. 9; Gil-Gonzalez D, Vives-Cases C, Ruiz MT, Carrasco-Portino M, Alvarez-Dardet C. Childhood experiences of violence in perpetrators as a risk factor of intimate partner violence: a systematic review. J Public Health. 2008; 30: 14–22

                    • Intimate partner violence is also correlated with negative health outcomes like injuries, HIV and STD infection, low birth weight babies, unintended/coerced pregnancies, alcohol use, depression and suicide, and death by homicide etc.

                    Reference: Tsacoyeanes, J. (2014). Who is vulnerable to gender-based violence? Women Thrive Worldwide.

                    • Female genital cutting is associated with lifelong physical and psychological harms like compilations in urination, menses and birth.

                    Reference: International Planned Parenthood Federation ( n.d.) Harmful Traditional Practices affecting women and girls. 

                       

                      Social norms and GBV

                      Despite two decades of policies and plans to eradicate GBV, its general rates continue to grow at varying rates.

                      Reference: Amaya, C. E. G., Acharya, A. K., & Bonfiglio, J. M. I. (2016). Gender Based Violence and Reproductive Health of Indigenous Women in Mexico. Sociology Mind, 6, 107-113. 

                          GBV is underpinned by social norms about women and men’s roles, and masculinity and femininity, as well as expectations and status related to class, caste, age, religion, tribe/ethnicity, etc. These norms shape individual attitudes and behaviors, and deviating from these norms can often bring shame and disapproval.

                          For example, social and cultural norms that promote and perpetuate intimate partner violence include:[1]

                          • A man has a right to physically discipline a woman over “incorrect” behavior
                          • Intimate partner violence is a “taboo” subject to discuss publicly
                          • Sex is a man’s right in marriage
                          • Sexual activity (including rape) is a marker of masculinity
                          • Girls are responsible for controlling men’s sexual urges

                          For child marriage, norms perpetuating the practice include parental pressure to control girls’ sexuality rather than support positive environments for exploring sexuality and choice:

                          • Value on girls’ virginity at marriage as a reflection of family honor, and fears of pregnancy before marriage. This is linked to social pressure to marry girls following cases of rape
                          • Silencing of girls from expressing their preferences and needs against coercive practices can put them at risk – both to child marriage as well as other sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) risks.[2]
                          • Expectations for male dominance, virility and control in sexual relationships, alongside women’s subordination.[3]
                          • Linked to this, WHO mortality data reported suicide now out-ranks maternal causes of death for girls, ages 15-19, globally.[4]

                          References
                          1. Heise, L. (December 2011). "What works to prevent partner violence: An evidence overview" STRIVE, Pg 12; 2. ABAAD (2015) Regional seminar on Child Marriage during democratic transition and armed conflicts; CARE Jordan Urban Refugee Protection Project Evaluation; Girls Not Brides Website. (n.d.) Why does child marriage happen? 3. Greene, M., Perlson, S., Taylor, A. and Lauro, G. (2015). Engaging Men and Boys to Address the Practice of Child Marriage. Washington, DC.; 4.Brink, S. (June 2, 2015). The Truth behind the suicide statistic for older teen girls. NPR. 

                           

                          Violence targeting marginalized and criminalized groups 

                          Certain groups of women and girls – indigenous women, women with disabilities, refugee women and women who identify as lesbian, bisexual or transgender – are particularly vulnerable to violence.

                          Reference: WHO, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and South African Medical Research Council (2013). Global and regional estimates of violence against women: prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence

                          Violence against LGBTQI+ people

                          LGBTQI+ people are particularly targeted by GBV. 80 countries criminalize homosexuality (notably in Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East, the Caribbean and Oceania), exposing individuals to criminalization and state violence, as well as militia/individual hate violence. 

                          Reference:  United Nations Free and Equal Campaign (n.d.) Fact sheet: Homophobic and transphobic violence.

                          • Studies have found severe victimization against LGBTQI+ people, who face disproportionately high levels of threats, violence and harassment. These experiences have been correlated with higher mental health distress, depression, addiction and suicide.

                          Reference:  Meyer, I. (2003). Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: Conceptual issues and research evidence. Psychology Bulletin, 129(5): 674-697.

                            • Statistics on homophobic and transphobic violence are scarce, as systems are not in place for reporting this and where they exist survivors may not come forward. However, general trends are that this violence is widespread, brutal and often met with impunity.

                            Reference:  United Nations Free and Equal Campaign (n.d.) Fact sheet: Homophobic and transphobic violence.

                              • News outlets have reported multiple incidents of targeting and murders of prominent LGBTQI rights activists. Over the past five years, news have reported killings of prominent activists within the community in Turkey, Argentina, Uganda, Bangladesh ,Honduras, Colombia, Pakistan, El Salvador, the United States, Georgia, Mexico, South Africa, India. LGBTQI Pride parades have also been sites of violent attacks.

                              Reference:  AWID Website (n.d.) Women's Human Rights Defenders Tribute; Qazi, S. (April 26, 2016). Two gay rights activists hacked to death in Bangladesh. Al Jazeera; BBC News (January 27, 2011). Uganda gay rights activist David Kato killed; Wikipedia (Retrieved March 2017). Violence against LGBT people.

                                  • While data remains slim worldwide, Grupo Gay da Bahia reported 190 homophobic murders in Brazil in 2008 alone.

                                  Reference:  Wikipedia (Retrieved March 2017). Violence against LGBT people.

                                        • People who face criminalization and stigmatization due to their gender identity and sexual orientation, are made particularly targeted state and militia violence, while also facing barriers to health care, housing, education and jobs.

                                        Reference:  ORAM and Helsinki Citizens' Assemble (2011). Unsafe haven: The security challenges facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender asylum seekers and refugees in Turkey.

                                        Violence against indigenous women and girls

                                        Race and ethnic discrimination, colonialism, age, gender, and dispossession of lands put indigenous women in positions that expose them to higher rates of GBV. 

                                        • Studies have found that indigenous and ethnic minority groups in Nepal, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Taiwan, Bolivia, Thailand and Uganda disproportionately face hazardous economic and sexual exploitation.

                                        Reference:  Inter-agency support group on indigenous people's issues (June 2014). Elimination and responses to violence, exploitation and abuse of indigenous girls, adolescents and young women. Thematic paper towards the preparation of the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. United Nations.

                                        • In the context of colonialism, forced sterilization of indigenous women have been documented in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Peru and Mexico.

                                        Reference:  Stote, K. (2015). An act of genocide: Colonialism and the sterilization of aboriginal women; Johansen, B. (2000). Stolen wombs: indigenous women most at risk. Native Americas, pp. 38-42.

                                          • Higher rates of GBV targeting indigenous women have also been documented in the context of forced displacement and political conflict in Central and South America, the Asia-Pacific as well as Eastern and Central Africa.

                                          Reference:  Inter-agency support group on indigenous people's issues (June 2014). Elimination and responses to violence, exploitation and abuse of indigenous girls, adolescents and young women. Thematic paper towards the preparation of the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. United Nations.

                                            • Bolivia, India and the Philippines report higher rates of partner violence faced by indigenous/scheduled tribal women.

                                            Reference:  Inter-agency support group on indigenous people's issues (June 2014). Elimination and responses to violence, exploitation and abuse of indigenous girls, adolescents and young women. Thematic paper towards the preparation of the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. United Nations.

                                            Violence against women and girls with disabilities

                                            • There is less visibility or documentation specifically related to GBV facing people with disabilities. However, the UN reports over half of women with disabilities have experienced physical abuse in their lifetime. 

                                            Reference:  del Río Ferres, E., Megías, J., Expósito, F. (2013). Gender-based violence against women with visual and physical disabilities. Psicothema, 25(1): pp. 67-72.

                                              • According to the World Health Organisation, people with disabilities are 3 times more likely to face sexual abuse, physical abuse or rape.

                                              Reference:  Human Rights Watch (2015). Include women, girls with disabilities in anti-violence efforts: new resource on gender-based violence for people with disabilities.

                                              • People with disabilities also face multiple barriers in access to information, transport, health services and care. 

                                              Reference:  Human Rights Watch (2015). Include women, girls with disabilities in anti-violence efforts: new resource on gender-based violence for people with disabilities.

                                              • In addition to facing the same spectrum of violence and rights abuses that non-disabled women and girls face, women and girls with disabilities have also faced specific abuses including forced sterilization, marital restrictions, forced separation from their children and additional abuses related to the violence and abuses linked to institutionalization.

                                              Reference:  Stop VAW (2009). Violence against women with disabilities.

                                                 

                                                Levers for change

                                                Evidence also points to levers for change:

                                                • A review of policies from 1975-2005 across 70 countries found feminist movements have been the most consistent and important change factor in shaping national policy to support women affected by domestic violence.

                                                Reference:  Weldon, SL and Htun, M. (2013). Feminist mobilisation and progressive policy change: why governments take action to combat violence against women, Gender & Development, 21:2, 231-247. 

                                                  • Emerging research has found restorative and transformative justice processes to be a promising approach, though they require intensive and skillful facilitation. Evaluations have found that these processes are a preferred pathway for survivors of violence in many cases, who express more interest in ensuring abusive behaviors do not continue rather than seeking punitive or retributive justice. Early reviews of these processes have been found to be effective in promoting an empowering process for survivors, and transforming individuals beyond violence, though require strong facilitation skills and engagement.

                                                  Reference:  Heise, L. (December 2011). "What works to prevent partner violence: An evidence overview" STRIVE, p xiv, 80; Marsh, F and Wager N, Restorative Justice in cases of sexual violence: exploring the views of the public and survivors. Probation Journal, 2015: 62(4), 336-356); Generation Five (2007). Toward Transformative justice: A liberatory approach to child sexual abuse and other forms of intimate and community violence.

                                                  • Social norms – particularly those related to gender but also youth sexuality, family privacy, family and male honor, child obedience and acceptability of divorce – act as a powerful influence either to perpetuate or shift partner violence.

                                                  Reference:  Heise, L. (December 2011). "What works to prevent partner violence: An evidence overview" STRIVE.

                                                    • Reports have also found that cultures characterized by the denial of women’s access to resources and decision-making power, low status of women in comparison to men and normalization of domestic violence, are correlated to state repression and violent conflict.

                                                    Reference:  Schmeidl, S., & Piza-Lopez, E. (2002). Gender and conflict early warning: A framework for action. London: International Alert; Hudson. V. et al. (2012) Sex and World Peace, Columbia University Press.

                                                        • Looking at dismantling some of the drivers of violence, potential factors that could curb GBV in addition to social norms change, are in legal measures that promote women’s equal access to land, property and other productive resources.

                                                        Reference:  Heise, L and Kotsadam, A. (2015). Cross-national and multilevel correlates of partner violence: an analysis of data from population-based surveys. Lancet Global Health 2015(3): e332-40.

                                                              • In general, girls who have attained secondary education are up to six times less likely to be married as a child, in comparison to those with little or no access to education.

                                                              Reference:  Malhotra, A., Warner, A., McGonagle, A., Lee-Rife, S. (2011). Solutions to End Child Marriage: What the evidence shows, p 14.; UNICEF. (2007)a. Progress for Children: A World Fit for Children Statistical Review. 6, 45. New York: UNICEF. Or UNICEF. (2007)b. The State of the World's Children 2007. New York: UNICEF.

                                                              • An analysis also found that higher proportions of women active in the formal economy is linked to lower prevalence of partner violence.

                                                              Reference: Heise, L and Kotsadam, A. (2015). Cross-national and multilevel correlates of partner violence: an analysis of data from population-based surveys. Lancet Global Health 2015(3): e332-40.