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Activities and instruments

Combating violence against women and girls

A woman recovers from rape in a hospital in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Violence against women is one of the most serious and widespread violations of human rights worldwide. One in three women around the world experiences physical or sexual violence at the hands of her intimate partner or other men at some point during her life. In some countries up to 70 per cent of women are affected. Many women suffer multiple discrimination and are therefore at greater risk of becoming victims of violence. Indigenous women, women in rural regions, women living with a disability, and displaced and migrant women, for instance, fall into this category.

In the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development the international community set itself the goal of ending all forms of violence against women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation (Sustainable Development Goal 5.2). In addition, all harmful practices such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation are to be eliminated (Sustainable Development Goal 5.3).

Detailed information about German activities in regard to combating female genital mutilation can be found here.

The prevention and combating of violence against girls and women is a key objective of German development policy. It is included in both the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development’s 2014 Gender Equality Strategy Paper and in the second Development Policy Action Plan on Gender Equality 2016–2020 (GAP II).

Domestic violence

Women from all backgrounds and social strata, of different income and educational levels can become victims of domestic violence. The majority of cases are never reported to the police or brought to justice.

German development cooperation supports the national efforts of partner countries to enable the victims of gender-specific violence to have better access to justice and high-quality services. This includes supporting Germany’s partner countries in taking an active and critical look at established social norms and gender stereotypes and working in a targeted manner towards eliminating existing structural inequalities. It is important to incorporate boys and men in these efforts as well.


Women in armed conflicts and peace processes

Mass rape and other acts of violence against women are increasingly being used as weapons of war. Germany is engaged in international efforts to promote the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1820, which defines sexual violence as a war crime. This includes campaigning for perpetrators to be brought before either national courts or the International Criminal Court.

Development cooperation also supports measures by the German government aimed at implementing UN Resolution 1325 ("Women, Peace and Security"), which affords women an important role in the settlement of conflict. Germany also supports violence prevention measures.

In future, particularly when it comes to the issues of peacebuilding and displacement, German development cooperation will be focusing even more on both the specific challenges faced by women and girls and their needs, and will be implementing measures to protect women and girls and to prevent sexual and gender-specific violence. Close cooperation with civil society and women’s organisations is essential for this.


Trafficking in women, forced and child prostitution

Another important priority area of action in international development cooperation is combating trafficking in women, and forced and child prostitution. In cooperation with the international community, the German government supports preventive measures, victim and witness protection schemes, and victim rehabilitation and social reintegration efforts.

This includes prosecuting Germans who sexually abuse children abroad once they have returned to Germany.


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