Gender-Based Violence

Gender-based Violence (GBV) is an umbrella term for any harmful act that is perpetrated against a person’s will, and that is based on socially ascribed (gender) differences between males and females. Throughout history, GBV has been an integral component of armed conflict. Sexual violence is often systematic, for the purposes of destabilizing populations and destroying bonds within communities and families, advancing ethnic cleansing, expressing hatred for the enemy, or supplying combatants with sexual services. Evidence suggests that the use of rape as a method of warfare has increased in recent years in conflict-affected areas. 

For more information about the IAWG’s work on GBV, please see the GBV Sub-Working Group page .

Key Messages:

The risks of GBV increase in conflict-affected settings, particularly for women and girls. Men and boys can also be at risk of GBV.

Standardized emergency response measures for women who have been sexually assaulted– including the provision of emergency contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy; prevention and treatment for STIs, including HIV/AIDS; and psychosocial care–must be available at the onset of each new emergency, along with food, shelter, and water.

Violence and abuse increase risk of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep difficulties, eating disorders, and emotional distress.

Facts & Stats

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Worldwide, 35 percent of women have experienced either physical or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence as of 2013.

Reference: UN Women, Facts and Figures: Ending Violence against Women. 2013.


Of the women killed in 2012, almost half were killed by an intimate partner or family member.

Reference: UN Women, Facts and Figures: Ending Violence against Women. 2013.


Over 700 million women worldwide were married before the age of 18 years old and more than one third, around 250 million, were married before the age of 15.

Reference: UN Women, Facts and Figures: Ending Violence against Women. 2013.


Worldwide, up to 50% of sexual assaults are committed against girls under 16 years of age.

Reference: UN Women, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women, Fast facts: statistics on violence against women and girls

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A survey conducted in Jordan from March through December of 2013 found 83 percent of Syrian women surveyed were not aware of any services available for survivors of gender based violence.

Reference: UN Women. Gender-Based Violence and Child Protection among Syrian Refugees in Jordan, with a Focus on Early Marriage. 2013