"You never enter a heart through violence."
    - Winston Churchill

In the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the United Nations described 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”.

Unfortunately, the UN quickly realised that women are not the only ones who deal with sexual and gender-based violence. This is why they changed the definition, which has become more widespread: “Sexual and gender-based violence refers to any act that is perpetrated against a person’s will and is based on gender norms and unequal power relationships.”

Still, women continue to be the group most at risk of sexual and gender-based violence. Survivors of this type of violence are much more likely to be women.


The numbers say it all:

  • 1 in 3 women in the world has been a victim of physical, sexual, or psychological violence
  • 1 in 5 women is a victim of (attempted) rape.
  • 93% of all sexual assault victims are women.
  • 75% of rapists are people that the victim knows. In cases involving minors, this is 85%.

Still, averages cannot tell us everything. Globally, 33% of women have faced gender-based violence, but even in Japan – a country that is generally seen as very respectful towards women – 15% of women experience this type of violence. In Latin America – where macho masculinity is more expected – most women (53%) deal with gender-based violence.

Different sides of gender-based violence
Out of doors, life is more dangerous for women than for men, simply because criminals usually see women as easier targets. But the people who commit gender-based violence are most often male romantic partners. This aggression ranges from verbal abuse and domestic abuse to rape within a marriage and murder.

In many countries, domestic abuse is seen as a minor offense and the people who do it are not or barely punished. There are even countries where raping the person you married is not seen as a crime and the offenders are not persecuted.

Other forms of sexual and gender-based violence will be explained in the chapter about child marriages, female genital mutilation, and sex trafficking.

1) When talking about gender-based violence, people usually do not immediately think of climate change. Still, there is a link, especially in Africa. What do you think this connection might look like?