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Sexual Violence Against Children

Sexual violence is a truly global epidemic that leaves millions around the world terrified in their homes, schools and neighbourhoods. Sexual violence can include rape, molestation and other forms of sexual abuse. Although anyone can be a victim of sexual violence, this form of violence most frequently impacts women and girls—and impoverished women and girls are particularly vulnerable.

3:56

"When I came to this place… yes there is justice for people with few resources, and this made me really happy. I thanked God for it."

Yessica* Abused at 14 years old in Bolivia (*Pseudonym)
The Facts
  • An estimated 1 in 5 women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime. [1]
  • In many developing communities, basic daily activities—taking public transportation, using a community latrine, collecting water—can put girls and women at particular risk of sexual assault. [2]
  • For many poor girls, school is the most common place where sexual violence occurs—and sexual violence, or feared sexual violence is a common reason girls leave school. [3]
  • In the developing world, the threat of sexual violence is ever-present: Studies find that children are most likely to be victimized by sexual violence in the places where they should feel safest, like their "neighbourhood, home or school." [4]

[1] United Nations. "Unite to End Violence Against Women: Fact Sheet." (2008).

[2] United Nations Millennium Project "Taking Action: achieving gender equality and empowering women" P. 112

[3] World Health Organization. "World Report on Violence and Health." 156.

[4] Shireen J. Jejeebhoy and Sarah Bott. Non-Consensual Sexual Experiences of Young People: A Review of the Evidence from Developing Countries.

Understand The Issue

Survivors of sexual violence everywhere face obstacles to justice, but the roadblocks are particularly devastating in the developing world. Victims, even children, are often blamed for the abuse, or their testimonies about the abuse are disregarded, or they are pressured to remain silent because of the intense stigma attached to rape. The perpetrator may offer to pay the victim’s parents some money in exchange for not pressing charges or even marry the victimized child—both of which can be extremely tempting offers for large families struggling to make ends meet.

If a police report is made, local police are unlikely to locate and apprehend the suspect, much less conduct an appropriate forensic investigation of the crime scene. If the victim’s case makes it to court, a survivor of assault may be forced to testify in front of his or her attacker. Cases often take years to reach a decision, requiring repeated and often traumatic visits to court. For these reasons, most reported cases never reach the judgment stage. When there are no real consequences for rapists and criminals, vulnerable children and women are left to pay the price.

Our Response

IJM combats sexual violence against children in Africa and Latin America.

Rescue Victims: We ensure the child is safe from the perpetrator (including moving to a safe home if the child is in further danger at home).

Bring Criminals to Justice: We collaborate with local authorities to investigate cases, help arrest criminals and support prosecution of rapists and other child abusers.

Restore Survivors: We provide trauma-focused therapy, help survivors prepare to share the truth in court, and support families so children can heal in a safe and stable environment.

Strengthen Justice Systems: We provide training and hands-on mentoring to law enforcement, judges, medical and other professionals, and advocate for reforms to the court process to protect children.

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Petra Kooman

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pkooman@ijm.ca
519.679.5030 x.229

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