Girls and women, especially younger girls, are the victims of gender-based violence in staggering numbers. Studies show that 42% of women who have been raped were forced to have intercourse before age 18, including 12% before age 11 (Black et al., 2011). Additionally, child sex trafficking is increasingly being recognized as a modern form of sexual slavery that is taking place across the country. Girls who have histories of physical and sexual abuse are especially vulnerable to sex trafficking.
Sexual violence has significant consequences on the lives of girls.
Sexual violence can lead to ongoing physical, mental and economic consequences. Many rape survivors feel doubly victimized, with widespread reluctance on the part of schools and law enforcement to believe women’s accounts of rape, long delays in processing rape kits, selective prosecution, and the criminalization of “child prostitutes” who in reality are young girls victimized by sexual violence. (The White House Council on Women and Girls, 2014).
Sexual violence can also have adverse effects on girls’ ability to stay in school and hold down jobs, further limiting their opportunities. Girls who survive sexual violence must be met with a response that recognizes them as victims of child abuse and ensures that they have access to resources that address their trauma and ensure their safety.
Girls Inc. takes a holistic approach to combating sexual violence, focusing on disseminating information about girls’ rights, advocating for policies that protect young women, and addressing the root causes of sexual violence. Girls Inc. aims to advance public policies that protects the dignity and rights of young women and girls, especially those from vulnerable communities, while developing public awareness and social media campaigns to give visibility to gendered violence in the U.S.
Girls Inc. is proud to be on the Steering Committee of the Girls at the Margin National Alliance, a collective of local, state, and national organizations reaching across disciplines and systems using a holistic perspective to address root causes of the complex issues confronting girls and young women at the margin.