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Because of its scale, multiple manifestations and impacts, violence against women and girls constitutes a major public health, as well as human rights, challenge. UNFPA takes a leadership role in addressing such violence, in its many forms, because it jeopardizes the reproductive health and well-being of women and girls in many situations.
Some of the ways in which gender-based violence compromises sexual and reproductive health include:
- Threats and coercion within intimate partner relationships that restrict women’s access to contraception and other forms of reproductive care.
- Sexual violence is exacerbated in conflict and disaster contexts. The chaos and a breakdown in social structures often leads to increased lawlessness, risk of abuse, and lack of access to critical and appropriate care.
- Every day, 37,000 girls are married before age 18, and often much younger, which puts their health at risk, undermines their chances of getting an education and limits their options.
- More than 3 million girls face the prospect of female genital mutilation or cutting, a practice with serious immediate and long-term health effects and a clear violation of fundamental human rights.
- More than 600 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime, and even where it is illegal, perpetrators often go unpunished.
Preventing abuse from happening, and addressing the outcomes as early as possible are at the core of UNFPA’s work in these priority areas.
- Policy making and legal protection
- Collecting and analyzing data
- Addressing GBV through sexual and reproductive health programs
- Building violence prevention into humanitarian responses in conflict and natural disasters
- Reaching out to adolescents and youth
- Sending messages to men and boys about gender equality and zero tolerance for abuse
- Joining hands with faith-based networks and traditional cultural leaders
- Sharpening the focus on the most vulnerable and marginalized people
UNFPA is active in this year’s Commission on the Status of Women, playing a sponsoring role in more than a dozen side events.