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Sexual violence and child marriages

Ways out of the vicious circle of poverty and violence

Experiences of violence slow down girls on their way to a fulfilled, self-determined life. The projects of terre des hommes switzerland in southern Africa and Nicaragua show A targeted fight against violence opens up new future opportunities for young women.

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Around the world, women and girls experience domestic, psychological and sexual violence in their closest relationships. Different traditions, values and norms or state failure and social taboos make it difficult to fight it. Thus, gender inequality and sexual and domestic violence are often seen as normal and not questioned.

In this environment, it is impossible for young people, and especially for girls, to determine their own sexuality. These young people are not in a position to advocate for safe sex or to freely choose their sexual partners. Even the timing of their first sexual intercourse is usually out of their hands; girls are often married off at an early age or are confined to "sugar daddies" ...to be instructed. These promise young women a better life in exchange for sex. Family planning is then no longer in their hands.

The prevention of sexual violence and child marriages is a focus of terre des hommes switzerland's work in South Africa, Moçambique, Tanzania and Nicaragua. In the fight against the causes of violence, the partner organizations tackle different points.

Stop impunity
In the programme countries of terre des hommes switzerland, there are certainly laws on the prosecution of violence against women. But there is often a wide gap between law and reality. The partner organisations therefore draw public attention to the lack of implementation of the legal bases. Through protest actions and lobbying, they put pressure on the authorities and demand more efficient criminal prosecution in public.

The counsellor of a contact point explains a graphic on paper.

Contact points with a comprehensive range of services
In order to help victims of violence, a wide range of support services is needed that offer medical, legal and psychosocial counseling in one place. Knowledge and support give victims the courage to break out of violent relationships and file a complaint. The partner organizations of terre des hommes switzerland are pioneers in this, psychological and social counselling to offer.

Help from young people for young people

The experiences of our partner organisations in their work show that above all the "young people for young people" approach is effective in reaching young people well. Especially when it comes to sex and sexuality, working in youth clubs is an effective way to break the silence and build trust. It is a youth-friendly way to deal with these sensitive issues, because talking about sex with adults is difficult for many young people or is not tolerated by society.

Develop positive and healthy sexual behaviour
Our partner organisations see young people and their phase of life as an opportunity for young people to develop into responsible adults and want to do so. To do so, however, young people also need an environment that supports and promotes the development of positive and healthy sexual behaviour among young people. Therefore, working with families, communities, schools and other institutions is essential: The goal is for young people in Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe to be able to determine their own sexual life and to shape their family planning.

What we do

Help for victims of sexual abuse - Partner organization LifeLine in South Africa

Empowerment for girls and women - Partner organisation Amudem in Mozambique

Red background, the sign for the sexes together in one and the word gender equality.

This part of the project work relates to the fulfilment of the sustainable development goal 5.2 of Agenda 2030 (UNO).

The content of the target:
"Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking in human beings and sexual and other forms of exploitation".

Hafid Derbal
Programme coordination Zimbabwe and South Africa, Desk Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
061 335 91 54 | hafid.derbal(at)terredeshommes.ch
Hafid DerbalProgramme coordination Zimbabwe and South Africa, Desk Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

061 335 91 54 | hafid.derbal(at)terredeshommes.ch

Is the Corona pandemic a driver of sexual violence against girls and women in South Africa? How does terre des hommes switzerland implement the cross-cutting issue of gender in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development? Why is our solidarity with young people in the global south particularly important right now? 

The big personal interview for International Women's Day on 8 March 2021 with Gabriela Wichser, Head of Programmes and Member of the Executive Board of terre des hommes switzerland.

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