Global and Regional Trends in Women’s Legal Protection Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Harassment

ENDING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS:
Global and Regional Trends in Women’s Legal Protection Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Harassment
World Bank, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and the Global Partnership for Education.
PAULA TAVARES AND QUENTIN WODON
FEBRUARY 2018 :: 20 pages
Report PDF: http://pubdocs.worldbank.org/en/679221517425064052/EndingViolenceAgainstWomenandGirls-GBVLaws-Feb2018.pdf

KEY MESSAGES [Editor’s text bolding]
:: Laws against domestic violence and sexual harassment are important to provide women with legal protection and signal commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal target of ending all forms of violence and harmful practices against women and girls by 2030.

:: The share of countries with laws on domestic violence increased from 70.9 percent to 75.9 percent thanks to legal reforms in seven countries over the last four years.

:: Legal protection remains weak for sexual violence as a form of domestic violence, where laws are lacking in more than one in three countries. For economic violence, half of the countries do not have specific legislation. For two in three countries, unmarried intimate partners are not protected under the domestic violence laws. Gaps in legislation are most common in the Middle East and North Africa and in sub-Saharan Africa.

:: More than one billion women lack legal protection against sexual violence by an intimate partner or family member and close to 1.4 billion lack legal protection against domestic economic violence, with little progress over time in both cases. In addition, in many countries, even when married women may be protected against domestic violence, women in unmarried intimate relationships may not be protected.

:: The share of countries with laws on sexual harassment increased from 83.7 percent to 86.5 percent thanks to legal reforms in Cameroon, Chad, Egypt, and Guinea over the last four years.

:: One in five countries do not have appropriate laws against sexual harassment in employment.
The proportion is six in ten countries for sexual harassment in education and four in five countries
for sexual harassment in public spaces. Criminal penalties for sexual harassment are in place in
only two thirds of countries and less than half for sexual harassment in employment.

:: Estimates of the number of women lacking legal protection against sexual harassment in employment, education, and public places are at 362 million, 1.5 billion, and 2.2 billion, respectively. Estimates are higher when based on the lack of criminal penalties for perpetrators.

:: While laws against domestic violence and sexual harassment are not sufficient to end these
forms of abuse, they are an important step that countries can and should take towards ending violence against women and girls.
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Press Release
More than 1 billion women lack legal protection against domestic sexual violence, finds World Bank study
WASHINGTON, February 1, 2018 – More than one billion women lack legal protection against domestic sexual violence, says new research from the World Bank.

The study, Global and Regional Trends in Women’s Legal Protection Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Harassment, also found that close to 1.4 billion women lack legal protection against domestic economic violence. Economic abuse entails controlling a woman’s ability to access economic resources (money, education or employment) as a form of intimidation and coercion. In addition, women are often not legally protected against specific types of sexual harassment outside the home, such as at work, school, and in public places.

Violence against women takes many forms, including physical, sexual, emotional, and economic. Violence leads to negative and, at times, dramatic mental and physical health consequences. It leads to increased absenteeism at work and limits mobility, thereby reducing productivity and earnings. It leads girls to drop out of school because going to school puts them at risk of abuse. It affects women’s decision-making ability within the household, including being able to seek services when needed.

“Gender-based violence is a global epidemic that endangers the life of women and girls with a wide range of negative consequences not only for them, but also for their children and communities. Ending this scourge is integral to the development of women’s human capital and unleashing their contribution to economic growth,” said Quentin Wodon, World Bank lead economist and co-author of the study.

The elimination by 2030 of all forms of violence against women and girls, and of all harmful practices such as child, early and forced marriage, and female genital mutilation, are two of the targets adopted under the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. These targets have intrinsic value, but they also matter for reducing poverty and creating inclusive societies. As just one example, ending sexual harassment in schools can boost educational attainment for girls, leading to higher earnings in adulthood…