MALA will join Together for Girls for The Every Hour Matters campaign  at the 2016 Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) aim to increase awareness of the importance of rapid access to post-rape care and urge global, national, and community leaders to improve access to comprehensive services. 

Sexual violence is a highly pervasive global problem. An estimated 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner or non-partner sexual violence. Rape is also highly prevalent in children. The Violence Against Children Surveys (VACS) conducted in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa estimate that 25 percent of girls’ first sex was forced, the majority of which occurred before the age of 16. In the United States, about 11 percent of high school girls report experiencing rape, however the majority of these rapes go unreported to the police or other authorities. One global study found that only 7 percent of women reported gender-based violence to a formal source and the VACS found that less than 5 percent of girls and boys who experienced sexual violence ever obtained services to help them recover.

Survivors of rape may not disclose for a number of reasons, including the stigma surrounding rape, lack of knowledge about the importance of or access to quality healthcare services. In many instances, the perpetrators of rape are known to the survivors and there is fear of reprisal from the assailant or the community. Cultural norms are also significant and may have additional untoward consequences. In some settings, the shame and potential loss of a bride price or of raising a defiled child may outweigh the risk of accessing care to prevent HIV and unwanted pregnancy. Structural constraints also play a major role as many areas lack comprehensive post-rape services, trained healthcare providers, reliable social services, and clear policies on what action to take in case of rape, specifically when it comes to minors. Undeveloped referral systems and circuitous requirements that reporting must first occur with the police also restrict people’s access to care.

The campaign will provide information to national and sectoral leaders, policymakers, healthcare workers, the media, and the general population about the importance of this critical service and feature a call to action and resource materials to promote service availability and timely access. Partners’ country offices and other institutions will be encouraged to use the campaign resources to develop a similar campaign in country, tailored to the local context and situation. The campaign will also include a large social media component which we anticipate will also be widely disseminated through our partners in the global north.

Title: Every Hour Matters: Surivivors and Global Leaders Discuss the Importance of Accessing Post-Rape Care
Date: Monday, March 14, 2016 from 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM EDT
Location:  Thai Cultural Center, Room 1

Audience: CSW participants including representatives from INGOs, partner organizations, country representatives, foundations, grassroots organizations; youth advocates and college students; and members of the press.
The parallel event, held outside the United Nations, will increase awareness about the importance of comprehensive post-rape care and the critical importance of timely access to health services. It will feature global and national-level leaders and advocates, including survivors of rape, service providers and youth, who are dedicated to advocating for post-rape care in a variety of settings. Global heroes featured in Safe magazine, including Zainab Khan and Shinjini Das, will also participate as speakers. The event will provide information on the importance of this critical service and discuss the current barriers to survivors receiving care, including unsupportive laws and policies, stigma and lack of awareness of the benefits. It will also highlight what changes are needed to promote access to care and showcase actions countries have successfully taken to increase access. Finally, the event will feature artwork from young women from across the world who were asked to use their creativity to show us how they would address gender-based violence, gender inequality and lack of access to healthcare services.

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