Current Status + Progress
Worldwide, around 15 million adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 have experienced forced sex in their lifetime. Boys are also at risk, although a global estimate is unavailable

Sexual violence is one of the most unsettling of children’s rights violations. As such, it is the subject of dedicated international legal instruments aimed at protecting children against its multiple forms. Acts of sexual violence, which often occur together and with other forms of violence, can range from direct physical contact to unwanted exposure to sexual language and images. ‘Sexual violence’ is often used as an umbrella term to cover all types of sexual victimization.[1] Although children of every age are susceptible, adolescence is a period of pronounced vulnerability, especially for girls.

[1] “Sexual violence against children encompasses both sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children and can be used as an umbrella term to refer jointly to these phenomena, both with regard to acts of commission and omission and associated to physical and psychological violence.” Interagency Working Group on Sexual Exploitation of Children, Terminology Guidelines for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, ECPAT International and ECPAT Luxembourg, Rachathewi, Bangkok, June 2016, p. 16, open PDF from <www.unicef.org/protection/files/Terminology_guidelines_396922-E.pdf>.

KEY FACTS[1]

  • In 38 low- and middle-income countries, close to 17 million adult women report having experienced forced sex in childhood. In 28 countries in Europe, around 2.5 million young women report experiences of contact and non-contact forms of sexual violence before age 15.
  • Worldwide, around 15 million adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 have experienced forced sex in their lifetime; 9 million of these girls had been victimized within the past year.
  • In 20 countries, nearly 9 in 10 adolescent girls who have been victims of forced sex say this happened for the first time during adolescence.
  • Data from 28 countries indicate that 9 in 10 adolescent girls who have experienced forced sex report being victimized by someone close/known to them.
  • Friends/classmates and partners are among the most commonly reported perpetrators of sexual abuse against adolescent boys in 5 countries with data.
  • Based on data from 30 countries, only 1% of adolescent girls who have experienced forced sex reached out for professional help.

SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN CHILDHOOD

SEXUAL VIOLENCE AMONG ADOLESCENT GIRLS

[1] All these key facts were calculated on the basis of data from DHS and MICS conducted between 2005 and 2016. The estimate of contact and non-contact forms of sexual violence before age 15 was calculated on the basis of data from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), Violence against Women Survey 2012, available at <http://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2014/violence-against-women-eu-wide-survey-main-results-report>. For further information on the data and methods of calculation, see United Nations Children’s Fund, A Familiar Face: Violence in the lives of children and adolescents, UNICEF, New York, 2017.

Methodology

For further details, see: A Familiar Face: Violence in the lives of children and adolescents, UNICEF, New York, 2017.