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Sexual Violence Against Children

Sexual violence affects millions around the world, and children in poor countries are some of the most vulnerable.

They are at risk in their homes, schools and in their communities. But, with no money for a lawyer, it’s harder for impoverished children and their families to get justice.

In many places, there is no meaningful justice system response to sexual violence against children. Police are often untrained on investigations, and courts don’t protect children during the intense trial process. As a result, rapists know they can target children without fear of the law.

The Facts arrow-simple-bottom

In the developing world, the threat of sexual violence is ever-present: Studies find that children are most likely to be victimised by sexual violence in the places where they should feel safest, like their “neighbourhood, home or school.” [1]

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 victimised 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.

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