Sexual violence affects millions of children and women around the world, and those living in poverty are some of the most vulnerable. They are at risk in their homes, schools, and their communities.
Statistics show 1 in 2 sexual assaults happen to girls who aren’t even 16 years old, and up to 2 in 3 women in the world have been through it. Sexual violence includes rape, sexual assault and molest. It is a serious crime that happens everywhere and every day but is particularly significant in places where the justice system is not functioning.
When a justice system fails, victims often do not report crimes because they have little or no confidence that it can help and protect them. In countries with unreliable justice systems, perpetrators continue to commit sexual violence because they face no consequences under the law. But when abusers are forced to face the consequences of their actions, they think twice about committing their crimes.
When IJM began exploring opening a Guatemala office in 2005, human rights experts warned that our mission could be impossible because the system was too broken. But the Guatemalan government has worked closely with IJM to strengthen their justice system in cases of sexual abuse, especially of children. Today, there are stronger laws and a Sex Crimes Unit in Guatemala, evidence of a country making a serious effort to protect women and children from sexual violence.