Sexual violence

Last update: June 2023 | Next update: October 2024

In more than one-third of countries, at least 5 per cent of young women reported experiences of sexual violence in childhood

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.


Sexual violence in childhood


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


Within the multi-faceted area of violence, current monitoring efforts are focused in two areas, each of which has a dedicated page that can be accessed below.