Understanding the issues
Violence against girls and young women is a widespread and complex issue and comes in many forms, from sexual assault to early and forced marriages, to domestic violence and trafficking.
It can be a psychological, physical or sexual act that causes a girl harm and deprives her of her free will. It can take place at home, at school, in a community.
Why does violence against girls happen?
The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts believes that gender inequality and discrimination are the root causes of violence against girls and young women, and also a consequences of this violence. Gender inequality creates gender roles, norms and expectations that reinforce and reflect girls and young women’s experience of and risk of violence. These roles, norms and expectations are socially constructed and in many communities men and boys are expected to play the role of tough and violent masculinity, leading to the acceptance and justification of violence against women and girls.
Girls are especially vulnerable to violence as they face the double discrimination of their sex and age. They are subject to harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage and sometimes they are even killed before birth - simply for being girls.
Violence against girls and young women is a human rights abuse and a global problem that is not defined by national, financial or racial lines. Yet, more often than not it is considered as an issue that “happens somewhere else", a “private matter,” or is taboo to challenge. Girl Guides and Girl Scouts across the world are taking action to break the taboos and end the violence.
If we don’t take a stand, who will?
Download a more in-depth definition of the issue detailed in our violence against girls position paper and visit the Frequently Asked Questions section to learn more about the campaign and how men and boys can be allies and champions in the fight to end the violence.
The Stop the Violence campaign’s non-formal co-educational curriculum Voices against Violence tackles seven different forms of violence against girls in its' activities: domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual violence, dating violence, the sexualisation of girls, female genital mutilation and early and forced marriage. Factsheets exploring the causes and consequences of these can be found on pages 38 - 64 of the Leader's Handbook. These factsheets are coming soon as individual downloadable resources.
Violence against girls is a sensitive topic and these factsheets may be distressing to some people. Please handle with care and have someone in mind you can speak to if you are affected by what you read. Visit the Safety Considerations for more information and support.